Pakistan needs help

Sunday, April 12, 2009
Daily Times

The pressure on President Asif Zardari to sign the Nizam-e Adl Regulation in the Malakand Division is growing as more and more opinion writers and TV discussants bitterly accuse him of having sabotaged the “peace” in Swat. After the signatory to the “peace agreement”, Sufi Muhammad, walked out of his “peace camp” Thursday, opinion in the country is divided, and the minority who express the view against Talibanisation are split further on the “drone attacks”, one half of them choosing to stand by the conservatives who don’t mind Talibanisation.

As President Zardari pauses, pen in hand, to sign the qazi courts law in Swat, the Taliban of warlord Fazlullah broke into the Buner district, saying they wanted to do some “tabligh” (spreading the message of Islam) there. But they got into trouble with the local Buner jirga for overstaying their pledged short stay and killed some local people and the police. The Swat administration then ordered its police into Buner but the policemen understandably refused to go. After that, according to one TV channel, the Buner jirga was made to apologise to the Taliban who immediately occupied the tomb of a local mystic and are now entrenched there, taking time out to patrol the Buner streets in a show of force. Meanwhile, a qazi in Swat has sent a number of shopkeepers to prison for not saying their namaz, as a signalling of obedience to his real rulers, the Taliban.

What many people find depressing is the point of view developing at once in favour of Talibanisation and the ANP. Hidden behind this attitude is an admission of defeat and acceptance of a new order under the tutelage of the Taliban and its patron Al Qaeda. ANP leader Haji Adeel minced no words when he said Friday that his party decided to do the deal with Sufi Muhammad because the army had let the ANP government down by not taking on the Taliban in Swat. His argument was that the ANP was elected by the people of Swat against the Taliban order but its inability to dislodge the militants was causing popular support to shift again to Fazlullah. The ANP is in despair about the army ever getting the upper hand even in Bajaur where it was supposed to be making some headway. There are reports that in some NWFP districts, terrorists caught by the army are released after verbal “orders” received from senior officers.

The Taliban see themselves winning and will give no quarter. Islamabad has been sealed off and people are not allowed in without ID cards. Yet the majority of those living inside Islamabad are not on the side of the state since the Lal Masjid incident in 2007 and want it to surrender. The English medium schools in particular and schools in general perceive themselves under threat in Islamabad and in the Punjab province and have been closed down. The readiness of the helpless victim to exonerate the tormentor is in evidence as a collective Stockholm Syndrome, and the politicians are sniffing the air for suitable opportunism to win the next election, even if that means letting the Taliban prevail. In Lahore the police is converging to the view that the Lahore attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team and the police training school in Manawan were done by India, despite the fact that Baitullah Mehsud has accepted having ordered the Manawan attack.

Why is this happening? Pakistan could be changing sides, deserting the global war against terrorism and joining up with the Taliban against India in Afghanistan and Balochistan. The army has tried to get the measure of the Taliban in the battlefield and has found them too strong. After that, turning the face away from the international community because of the “India factor” means accepting the Talibanisation of Pakistan. The US-NATO alliance can see that coming after the latest “trust deficit” meetings in Islamabad, which means the crucial funds expected to come from the US and the international organisations will come only with tough conditions. A large number of citizens in Pakistan are slipping into depression while others are actually advising Islamabad to turn down the “foreign funds” since Pakistan is rich enough to look after itself only if it is “well-governed”. And good governance for them, incredibly, is simply de-linking Pakistan from the “imperialist West”.

Pakistan needs help because it can’t fight the Taliban. What should the world community do when it sees a state being usurped by terrorists who clearly intend to spread their terrorism around the world? Despite the verbalisations in Islamabad and the media, the world should hear the desperate call for help from the state of Pakistan.

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