Mar 2, 2009

Don’t create another Swat in Punjab

By Hamid Mir
Peace and normal life is coming back to the beautiful Swat valley of Pakistan after two years. All the major Pakistani political parties in the government and opposition supported the peace process except for human rights activists. Truce in Swat was largely welcomed in Pakistan but there are still some doubts in western capitals. Only a joint voice of all the political parties in support of peace deals with Taliban can remove these doubts. Unfortunately these political parties are no more united in supporting and promoting the peace process in Swat. Politics succeeded in Swat but is now failing in Punjab. PPP led by President Asif Ali Zardari and the biggest party of Punjab, PML-N led by Nawaz Sharif have now started a war against each other. This war will only destroy peace in the biggest province of Pakistan.President Asif Ali Zardari imposed governor’s rule in Punjab just to grab the chief minister-ship for his party and forced Nawaz Sharif to announce a civil disobedience movement. The man sitting in the President House is not realizing that he still needs a lot of efforts to bring peace in the other tribal areas as well as the whole province of NWFP. President House in Islamabad is also looking like a bunker. President cannot move freely even in the capital. He cannot win a war against terrorism without the help and support of Nawaz Sharif.People of Pakistan rejected Musharraf in 2008 election due to his pro-US policies but many analysts think that Zardari government is still following the old policies of Musharraf.Pakistanis rejected religious parties in the election 2008.Liberal parties like Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif Group), Awami National Party and MQM won in the big urban and rural centres. Results of election 2008 proved that Talibanization was not a threat because majority of Pakistanis are moderate but at the same time these Pakistanis don’t like US policies. New government in Pakistan failed to bring peace in the tribal areas and NWFP province due to US drone attacks. This failure created disappointment and that’s how a new wave of violence gripped the whole province. Awami National Party won the election in the most troubled province of Pakistan on the slogan of peace in 2008. This party kept trying to make peace deals with Taliban. At one stage ANP developed some misunderstandings with the army establishment due to its “proactive peace policy” but ultimately ANP successfully struck a deal with Taliban through Maulana Sufi Muhammad. Nobody in Pakistan and outside Pakistan could doubt the intensions of ANP because it is a secular and liberal party which is against Talibanization.It was death, destruction and displacement which forced both the civilian government and army to make a peace deal with Taliban. Swat was a no-go area for the ANP parliamentarians and ministers for the last one year but now after the peace deal ANP ministers are visiting Swat which means that civilian government is alive again in Swat. However, ANP President Asfandyar Wali is the most worried man regarding the imposition of governor’s rule in Punjab. He thinks that truce in Swat was just the beginning of a long process but the situation in Punjab may derail the whole process. The attack from the centre in Punjab is worse than the US drone attack in tribal areas.Drone attack destroys only a limited area inaccessible to the media. TV anchors cannot go to the mountains of FATA and they cannot show the disappointment and cries of the local population on their TV screens. Suspension of an elected assembly has destroyed the hopes of millions and created disappointment and anger all over Pakistan. We are watching agitation and fire in Punjab on our TV screens for the last several days. Governor Salman Taseer is losing his grip on the administration very fast because everyone knows that he doesn’t have the public support as well required numbers in the provincial assembly for bringing a PPP chief minister in Punjab. Who will be the ultimate beneficiary of this situation? Both Nawaz Sharif and Asfandyar Wali think that growing violence in Punjab will provide an opportunity to some militant groups in the province to emerge as Taliban. Presence of pro-Taliban militants in cities like Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Bahawalpur, Jhang and Attock is already reported in the media. Some militants from southern and northern Punjab and interior Sindh are part of the Taliban ranks. These militants will start taking over some villages and towns in Punjab and then they will take over small underdeveloped cities like Muzaffargarh and Attock. There will be not one but many Swats in Punjab. Instability in Punjab will completely derail the peace process in Swat and in other tribal areas. President Zardari will again ask army and USA to use tanks and drones, this time in Punjab. It will only result in more death and destruction. Fire will spread over from Punjab to Sindh.President Zardari still has some time. He should lift the governor’s rule in Punjab as soon as possible and start a meaningful political dialogue with Nawaz Sharif. If his government can reach a truce with Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah, then why not a truce with Nawaz Sharif? Zardari became President with the help of Nawaz Sharif.He can complete his term as president only with the support of Nawaz Sharif. If there will be no truce with Nawaz Sharif then President Zardari will be the biggest loser. It’s the writing on the wall.The writer works for Geo TV.

No comments:

Post a Comment