Feb 18, 2009

Pakistan's Swat Valley in Islamic way

In a highly positive move, Pakistan has rightly entered, again, into a deal with Taliban movement in tribal zones to establish Shariah system in Swat Valley of the country. According to the peace deal made, Pakistan has agreed to enforce Islamic law in the Swat Valley - a part of the country as part of a peace deal with the Taliban movement that has announced a10-day ceasefire. Observing that Islamic law is within the framework of Pakistan, the US has refrained from making any comment on the peace deal between Islamabad and a Taliban-linked group for enforcing Shariah law in the Swat Valley. "As I understand it, Islamic law is within the constitutional framework of Pakistan. So I don't know if that is particularly an issue for anyone outside of Pakistan to discuss, certainly not from this podium," State Department spokesperson Gordon Duguid, refraining from passing any comment on the peace deal with the Taliban militants, when pressed by the western media to hit both Taliban and Pakistan. Duguid said: "We've seen these sorts of actions before. What is, of course, important is that we are all working together to fight terrorism, and particularly to fight the cross-border activities that some Taliban engage in attacking in Afghanistan." Many countries like “secular” India are keen to see Pakistan divided and fight bloody wars amongst its splinter groups. USA wants to “fulfill” the Indian dreams in troubled Pakistan. One does not if the Taliban movement seems to have become a threat for the Pakistan army like the Mukti Bahini in then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1971. But a furious Taliban leadership has decided to send their fighters to Islamabad as a reaction to the army operations in the Swat valley on the troubled border with Afghanistan. The Taliban have already started painting walls in Islamabad with its threats, compelling the administration in the capital to erase these messages quickly. Swat was a princely state till July 28, 1969. The Islamic state of Swat was established in 1849 by Sayyed Akbar Shah. The state of Swat was kept in abeyance from 1863 to 1926, but Sharia law prevailed through Qazi courts during this period. The courts were restored by the British in 1926. Qazi courts operated till 1969 when Swat finally became part of Pakistan. Residents of Swat think it was easy to get justice before 1969 through the Qazi courts. The Taliban have exploited the delay in justice. The ANP swept the 2008 election with the slogan of peace and justice and now rules the NWFP in collaboration with the Pakistan People's Party. The ANP leadership seems to have convinced President Asif Ali Zardari to promulgate the Sharia regulation in Swat and the promulgation will be announced in a few days. Washington is in touch with Islamabad administration to “do something” about this. In the past, when former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf entered into a peace agreement with the militants in the tribal areas of the country bordering Afghanistan, the US at a later stage was very critical of such a pact. Annoyed with the peace move by Pakistan with the “sworn enemy” of USA, the US-led NATO worked against the deal and made that collapse on its own with subversive mission of NATO. However, the agreement failed to yield the desired results. Meanwhile, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO which has 55,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan expressed concern over the Pakistani truce with the Taliban militants. “Without doubting the good faith of the Pakistani government, it is clear that the region is suffering very badly from extremists and we would not want it to get worse." It could mean NATO is waging an anti-Islamic war in Islamic world. US President Barack Obama] has approved the deployment of 17,000 additional troops in Afghanistan. "This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires," Obama said. Immediately, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced the deployment of more than 12,000 troops to Afghanistan. This includes 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, consisting of 8,000 Marines and 5th Stryker Brigade of 4,000 soldiers. Such an announcement was being anticipated for the past several days, even though Obama also talked about withdrawal of forces. The US President, however, clarified the surge of troops in Afghanistan does not pre-determine the outcome of Afghan strategic review, which is currently being done by his administration. Instead, Obama argues, it will further enable our team to put together a comprehensive strategy that will employ all elements of our national power to fulfill achievable goals in Afghanistan. .But his duality was discerned even before taking over presidency, Obama had announced his intention to increase the US troops in Afghanistan as he believes the main threat to the United States comes from the safe haven of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Genocides by US-Pakistan military in tribal areas have annoyed the Taliban. Many religious scholars in Islamabad want an Islamic government in Pakistan. Many in Pakistan support the Taliban even in the capital and they have warned against "collaborators" of the 'pro-American Zardari government' which they consider not different from the previous Pervez Musharraf regime. The Taliban in Swat and Bajour are strong now. The Taliban have accused some "militant" leaders in the tribal areas and some leaders of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the Harkat-ul Mujahideen and the Hizbul Mujahideen of trying to stop youngsters from fight against Pakistani forces. US-Pakistan tried all tricks to silence the Taliban movement, after US-led NATO destoryed Afghanistan and dethroned the Talban government. NATO War on Islam complicated situation both in Afghanistan and Pakistan and has forced the Pakistan government to take some extreme steps against the Taliban in Darra Adamkhel and Swat, but failed. Some diplomatic sources have revealed that Pakistan is now ready to release some arrested Taliban fighters in exchange for the Polish engineer and another kidnapped Chinese engineer, but the US raised some objections and the deal was not finalized. The Pakistani authorities successfully negotiated the release of kidnapped Pakistani diplomat Tariq Azizudin in 2008 and the release of kidnapped army personnel in 2007 by releasing some Taliban fighters. This time, US pressure complicated the situation. Though it confronts an East Pakistan-like situation from Darra Ademkhel to the mountains of Swat, the Pakistan army is not ready to surrender despite the fact that India is once again trying to exploit the situation by using threatening language against Islamabad. A top army officer linked with the “operation” in Swat said the "situation in Swat is much more complicated than East Bengal in 1971 where we were fighting against Indian-sponsored secular insurgents. The local population in East Bengal was fully supporting the insurgents, but the ground reality of Swat is not very different. Taliban are demanding the enforcement of Islamic law in Swat and all the local political leaders are supporting this demand under public pressure. Afghanistan's Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Khaliq Farahi was kidnapped last year and has still not been found. The Pakistani authorities are conducting a big search operation not only for him, but also for Iranian diplomat Heshmatollah Attarzadeh who was kidnapped from Peshawar last year. After the army intensified its operations in Swat, half a million people (the region has over 1.5 million population) have left the area in the last month. It appears, the Shariah move by Zardari regime is not for shaping any Islamic way of life, but to close down the rival organizations demanding Islamic format plus spirit in the country by silencing the Taliban movement and to resume the same policies that to appease the anti-Islamic nations and forces around the world. North West Frontier Province Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti of the Awami National Party, Governor Awais Ghani and the army high command have strongly recommended that the federal government enforce long pending Sharia regulation, which will be called Nafaz-e-Adal regulation. Swat district police officer Dilawar Khan Bangash said the Taliban will have no justification to fight the state after the enforcement of Islamic law in Swat. It is learnt that prominent rebel leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad of the Tehrik-e-Nafaze Shariat Muhammadi has assured the ANP leadership that he will start a long march from Dir to the Swat valley after the imposition of Sharia law. He will appeal to his son-in-law Maulana Fazalullah and other Taliban leaders to lay down their arms or face terror operations against them. Going by what the NATO says, the Swat Sharia move by Pakistan government is a temporary and tactical effort to silence those who seek a truly Islamic state but the ultimate goal should be to send out all foreign forces from Pakistani soil, allowing the leadership to embark upon Islamic rule in this Islamic state. This is where the Zardari government should focus on hereafter. Swat should also remain a truly Islamic region to eventually embrace the entire nation and influence the rest of the world. Media have a constructive role in this popular endeavour.
By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

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