Mar 3, 2009

Shaky in Swat

It is no surprise at all that the truce in Swat is under threat. Indeed, we would all have been left perplexed if this had not happened. Sufi Mohammad Khan has now demanded that the Nizam-e-Adl regulation agreed upon with the provincial government now be enforced within two weeks and Qazi courts made operative. The fact that none of us really know what the peace agreement includes in the first place adds to the doubts surrounding the whole issue. The attack on a security convoy and the kidnapping of an FC commandant further highlights the futility of dealing with men who cannot be trusted. Sufi Muhammad Khan conveniently claims the attack was a 'mistake', but how do we know such 'mistakes' will not be made again? The fact is that the militants are divided; attempts are on from within their ranks to sabotage the truce and by doing so discredit Sufi Muhammad. It seems very likely that their tactics will succeed.The authorities need to face up to the fact that they are dealing with desperate men; judging by their actions and their words, some at least among them seem poised on the brink of insanity. Who else but the deranged would behead people and stick their heads atop poles or hold up toddlers close to the gory scenes of such killings to ensure they witness them? Reason seems pointless when used against such people. There are indications that Sufi Muhammad is under immense pressure from more hard-line militants led by his son-in-law to step up demands on the government. It is increasingly clear that the truce in Swat cannot hold. Any hope of a lasting peace that allows people to resume normal lives can come only when the militants are vanquished and their leaders punished for the crimes they have committed. Until this happens, we will see, at best, only temporary solutions in Swat while the hold of militants grows steadily stronger as a result of the failure to decisively crush them.

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