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They Have Sold The Homeland of Frontier Gandhi To Assassins!

by Saba Gul Khattak, 16 April 2009

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The News

Thrown to the wolves for peace

By Saba Gul Khattak

Pakistan is full of contradictions and betrayals. Often the two go together. This time, the betrayals are at several levels: the betrayal by the ANP of its ideology of non-violence; the army’s betrayal of the soldiers and civilians killed and injured during the fighting with Fazlullah and his cronies, and the massive destruction that followed (which is being compared to the 2005 earthquake); the betrayal of women by women’s representatives in the assemblies; and the great betrayal by almost the entire parliament voting to approve the unjust Nizam-e-Adl Regulation.

Abdul Ghaffar Khan (popularly called Bacha Khan) must be turning in his grave. The provincial information minister stated that opposing Nizam-e-Adl means opposing the ANP’s ideology of non-violence. The ANP leadership needs a primer in what resistance meant then and now. Non-violence was used to rid India of British colonialism, not to continue it in the name of the people.

Bacha Khan was fighting, not promoting, religious obscurantism. He condemned the mullahs for opposing education, arguing that they deliberately wanted to keep his people backward. Sufi Mohammad and his ilk are opposed to women’s education, political, social and economic rights; their concept of justice and rule is based upon fear. They have imposed "jizia" upon minorities. Bacha Khan may well have said to the ANP leadership what he said to the Congress 64 years ago: "You have thrown us to the wolves."

One-third of the NWFP has been handed to the Taliban on a platter. Parts of several other districts in southern NWFP are also under de facto Taliban control. Why hasn’t the ANP ceded these districts to the Taliban for bringing "peace" there as well? Is the grand plan to turn the NWFP into a place like Taliban-controlled southern Afghanistan, a black hole from where people’s voices do not reach the world? The few voices that come through are asking for education, for employment, an end to cruel and unjust speedy justice, for peace, for contact with the rest of Afghanistan.

For years the ANP leadership demanded that Pakistan’s policies be made in the Parliament instead of in the GHQ. However, the ANP criticised the president for giving the proposed regulation for debate to the Parliament and threatened to quit if the regulation was not enforced. It is determined to fulfil the unfinished MMA agenda!

The National Parliament is the ANP’s partner in capitulation to the militants’ terms. A stunning majority, representing almost all major political parties in the national Parliament, hastily approved, without debate, the regulation that denies basic human rights to the people. This exposes the criminality of most political representatives and raises some questions: if the Parliament can vote a separate system of speedy justice for one part of the country, what prevents it from voting in unjust systems in other parts? And, in doing so, do they not disqualify themselves from representing the people who would then only be represented by those with the weapons of fear?

The implementation of the Nizam-e-Adl brings into question the relevance of the MNAs and MPAs from Malakand Division. Who do these MPAs and MNAs represent when the entire government accepts Sufi Mohammad and Fazlullah as the "true" representatives of the people? Should not Sufi Mohammad appoint/nominate Fazlullah, et al, to the national and provincial assemblies?

The silence of the women MNAs and MPAs — a majority of whom entered the assemblies on women’s seats — is yet another betrayal. They voted in a system that will render all women of Malakand Division unequal citizens. Their failure to condemn the Taliban treatment of women, and the ANP-PPP government’s attack on women activists, shows that these women are too grateful to their male-dominated political parties for their appointment, for them to question misogyny.

Chances are that like the MNAs and MPAs from Malakand Division, the women’s representatives will not stay in the assemblies too long as the Taliban disapprove their presence in such arenas. By keeping mum, the women’s representatives have not only betrayed themselves, they have also betrayed their constituency — the women of Pakistan.

For military officers to offer prayers led by Fazlullah must raise questions of loyalty from soldiers in the future. Precious lives of soldiers were lost, without a cause. It will confirm the misgivings that officers betray their soldiers. The military needs to answer the families of civilians, who were killed, injured, displaced and who lost their assets and livelihoods, why it attacked them when it exists to defend them.

Meanwhile, the government continues to pretend: after bartering away people’s rights, exposing them to medieval punishments, it asks donors to provide $45 million for the reconstruction of Swat! When it cannot maintain its writ, and acts as a subsidiary for the Taliban, what justification can it provide for asking the international community for the reconstruction of the district after throwing the people to the wolves?

The voices of sanity from Swat have been silenced through the weapons of fear, whose use the Taliban are well skilled in. The provincial government’s propaganda in favour of obscurantist forces has added to their plight. The national Parliament has betrayed them also. Who will speak for the people of Malakand Division and the rest of Pakistan?

Are there any avenues for the numerous women, men and children of all ethnicities, religions and classes who do not want medieval systems of justice before being bombed or cut to pieces? In the past, WAF had challenged Zia-ul-Haq’s violations of women and minorities’ human rights. Today, it would have to be WAF and other brave civil society organisations that raise their voice against the multiple betrayals that the people of this country continue to suffer.

(This article is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use.)