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April 14, 2009

Upping the Swat Game
Posted by Patrick Barry

There has been a lot of fuss over Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's decision to approve Sharia regulation for the restive Swat valley (in the Malakand division of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province) following the passage of a parliamentary resolution on the matter.  Knowledgeable hands including SFRC Chairman Sen. John Kerry (here) have expressed concern, concern which is not at all unjustified given the serious precedent this decision sets

But before everyone goes completely off the deep end, I think we should all be mindful that beneath the stories describing an emboldened Taliban and a weak Pakistani government, there is a much longer, deeper narrative, which does include a trend toward extremism, but also contains older traditions of religious politics, provincialism, and justice. I hope to blog more on this in the days to come, but for anyone looking to get a sense of the complexities at work here, I would strong recommend listening to Joshua White's speech at the Middle East Institute last month. No western analysis I've seen comes close to rivaling its nuance. 


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I look forward to it, Patrick. Simply calling these people terrorists is so . . .Bush-like. In the meantime, since I haven't seen anything like this elsewhere, I can't resist:

Babe Ruth was the Sultan of Swat.
He hit home runs a lot.
He’d take the baseball for a ride
And round the diamond with a jerky stride.
A tiny, comic trot.

The proclamation of Nizam-e-Adal (a system of justice)by Mr. Zardari, President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, should be understood pragmatically. Swat, a lush green valley and a home to attract thousands of tourist yearly, has witnessed bloodshed due to certain reasons. This valley and remnant parts of Malakand Division fall under the direct jurisdiction of the President of Pakistan. Even during 1980s, 90s, former Pakistani leaders, politicians, and governments vowed to setup Sharia Courts under the supervision of the federal government, but couldn't be setup. The urge for the stipulated system of justice rose during last one year. Federal government passed this system of law after parliamentary deliberations.

Firstly, The people of Swat stringently observe Islamic laws, and they have their own norms, values, culture, and local traditions whom they are adherent to for olden times. But due to Islomophobia-when every Muslim seems to be a terrorist- anti Islam feelings have taken roots today in every individual’s mind especially in the west. This system of law has been interpreted wrongly. The world has shown concerns over this deal as a clandestine to help terrorist groups invigorate themselves against NATO troops. But the real picture is different. Muslims are also like other dignified people in the comity of the nations. But owing to some hardliners who can be follower of any sect, creed or race, Islam is being dubbed as a religion of terrorism, and its followers are terrorists. That is wrong. Is every terrorist in the world a Muslim? Is every non-Muslim state free of this menace and evils? Do all non-Muslims not commit crimes? No religion or faith teaches brutality. Be it Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. If we have an unbiased analysis, we can see that Islamic world has the lowest rate of crimes. The US has the largest number of prisoners. Islam detests inhuman behavior and the killing of innocent people. The perpetrators of violence are not the ambassadors of any religion. They are criminals, and don’t represent Islam. No matter wherever they are. No matter what their religion is. They must be dealt and tormented with iron hand.

Secondly, is it not good to impose ban on the display or exhibition of any kind of arms? Is it not good to extend quick and cheap justice to remote areas like Swat?

Thirdly, Pakistan has been one of the oldest and the most loyal allies of the United States of America since its creation in 1947. It was Pakistan who helped the US oust the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan to breed the ultimate death of communism. It was Pakistan who broker the cordial relationship between People Republic of China and The US in early 1960s, and brought an end to the period of rivalry between these two powers. It was Pakistan who always preferred and upheld its relations with US despite threats from USSR, presently Russia. Is this sane what Pakistan is yielding as a non-NATO ally? Pakistan has already suffered from the greatest number of military personnel’s causalities in the War on Terror. Pakistan, economically challenged and with open theaters of war on its eastern western side bordering Afghanistan and on eastern side with India, is fighting a war of its survival. But on the other side, despite having done more than its capacities, Pakistan is forced to to do more. Pakistan must be propped up militarily and economically. Pakistan is a responsible state and its people are well-aware of their obligations. Despite personnel’s loss in the war on terror, Pakistan has also suffered from over $35bn loss economically. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has almost drought up.

The need of hour is: the world must realize and understand that it’s not alone Pakistan’s war. It’s a war that requires regional and global cooperation. We have common enemy to defeat. The duality of western friendship with Pakistan can better be deemed that on one side Pakistan is helping the world fight this menace of terrorism on the front as a non-NATO ally whereas, on the other hand its territorial integrity and sovereignty is being breached by the NATO drone attacks, and its intelligence agencies and army are being demoralized. International media is creating hype against Pakistan’s military falsely. This is repellent.

Hence, we need to unite hands against this scourge of terrorism by extending global cooperation, minimizing the trust deficit, and enhancing intelligence cooperation in order to create a safe heaven to live in.

Hence, we need to unite hands against this scourge of terrorism by extending global cooperation, minimizing the trust deficit, and enhancing intelligence cooperation in order to create a safe heaven to live in.

Hence, we need to unite hands against this scourge of terrorism by extending global cooperation, minimizing the trust deficit, and enhancing intelligence cooperation in order to create a safe heaven to live in.

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