Saturday, May 23, 2009

From Swat Accord to Civil War

By Saeed Qureshi

The promulgation of Taliban Justice System in Swat and Malakand is a sure recipe for a civil war in Pakistan. This civil war will take place between the liberals and the Taliban on one hand and the Taliban and their ideological rivals within the Islamic fold on the other. There are clear indications that Taliban who have scored a victory in Swat would spread the tentacles of their justice system to other vulnerable areas in Pakistan. Thanks to the weak and vacillating leadership in Pakistan, and army’s major engagement in the FATA, that after almost a decade of their defeat in Afghanistan by the conglomeration of Northern Alliance and US forces, the Swat faction of Taliban triumphed in staging a come back with their queer brand of Islamization.

After his release, in his first sermon before a rally of his supporters, the pontiff of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid Maulana Abdul Aziz, has, in anticipation, categorically sounded the trumpet of a coming Islamic storm in Pakistan. He said that the Islamic Shariah would be enforced in the whole of Pakistan. It means that there must be already a pre-planning of the next phase of Taliban’s Islamic revivalism movement with a replica of what they had imposed in Afghanistan plunging otherwise that liberal country into a furnace of frightening punishments and no progress.

The Taliban’s pedigree of Islam is basically anti feminist and therefore one should well nigh be imagining that the women folk in Pakistan would either have to remain within the precincts of the homes or else go out with an escort (no one other than their husbands), veil clad and concealing their entire body from top to bottom.

The Taliban would adopt the same strategy of brutalization and harassment through suicide bombing, randomly killing the citizens and hanging their parts of the body on the lamp posts or trees. Pakistan, that is momentarily, one of the most unstable countries would be caught up in a strangle-hold that would further compel the fumbling and weak rulers of Pakistan to concede more ground to the shrew Taliban whose ideological thrust would remain unrelenting till they establish theirs sway over the entire Pakistan. Thereafter they might launch their holy crusade against India.

If that is the future picture of Pakistan, then several possibilities can come up. The United States and NATO would move into Pakistan to stop Taliban and similar Islamic militants to take hold of the nuclear arsenal. Pakistan would be thrown back into the mould of Afghanistan that remained a battleground between the Islamic militants and the foreign troops till the ouster of Taliban.

That situation might be to the liking of US and purveyors of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and capability. Under the urgent compulsion of flushing out Taliban who will pose a real gubernatorial threat to the civil society in Pakistan and sound a death knell to the freedom of the people, the embattled foreign forces on the soil of Pakistan would demand the control of the nuclear regime to stop it from slipping into the hands of the fanatics. The conflict between the two contenders i.e. The NATO and American military on one side and the Islamic militants on the other will not be confined to days or months. It might drag on for years together.

In the wake of such dreadful scenario, the federation of Pakistan will come under enormous pressure from Baluchistan province that would go in an open revolt for secession. Will our leaders who should then be reduced like Karazai of Afghanistan can stop this trend of cessation to be led by Baluchistan and apprehensively to be followed by NWFP and Sindh?

The MQM”s unequivocal rejection of the Swat Deal between the ANP’s provincial government and the Federal PPP government on one side and the Taliban on the other reflects the admirable vision of this party to save Pakistan from being turned into a dark age’s theocracy. Theirs is the only saner, progressive and pragmatic voice in a climate of opportunism, compromise, cowardice and rank hypocrisy of the ruling elite. It speaks for the courage, conviction and honest intent of the MQM that despite being the coalition partner of the PPP at the center and having its own government in Sindh has stood by what is in the best interests of Pakistan. Believably sooner or later there will be an exodus of Taliban to Karachi and Urban Sindh. The Taliban are already stalking and swarming Baluchistan and NWFP provinces. The capitulation of Islamabad to Taliban’s cohorts headed by Maulana Abdul Aziz and the revival of religious activism at the Red Mosque by the uprooted fanatic religious elements (also the external religious outfits), might not augur well for the peace of the federal capital and the adjoining areas.

In such a projected scary spectacle what could be the role of the armed forces of Pakistan! Like the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan, it would join hands with the foreign fighting forces to embark upon a long drawn military blitz of wiping out the Taliban and other obscurantist outfits from Pakistan. It is also incumbent upon Pakistan army, the only armed, organized and disciplined entity to save Pakistan from disintegration and stop the religious extremism that aims at taking roots and pushing Pakistan into the lap of unislamic theocracy.

But while the Taliban would venture to Islamize Pakistan with their model, the other Islamic factions that profess different beliefs might resist them also. The clash of beliefs will lead to a war between conflicting sects. For instance there is a huge population that believes in saints, shrines, mystics and their miraculous powers. These branches of Islamic faith are called Qadria, Chishita or Naqshbandia. There are countless shrines and tombs of the holy saints all over Pakistan where the credulous and superstitious flock and are ready to make any sacrifice fro them. The beliefs of these sects and those of Taliban will collide. In Swat, the Taliban are already destroying the shrines of these dynastic holy families having enormous wealth, pelf and holy clout over the people. This is likely to be a combat between two dogmatic rivals that might weaken both of them.

The civil society in Pakistan will be severely jolted and enormously perturbed over the expansion of Talibanization to the rest of Pakistan. It is with coercion that Taliban have been able to overpower the people of Swat and Malakand as well as debilitate law enforcement agencies. Even the army had to beat a retreat. But Taliban were able to prevail because of the smaller population and area of these remotely located northern valleys.

They might find it difficult to have an easy catch in Pakistan. The civil society will be up in arms against them along with the followers of the shrine creed. The US and NATO in tandem with the Pakistan Army might turn the tide against Taliban and emasculate them. That will take time but once it happens, it would be an historic deliverance of Pakistan and the region from this freakish cult of Gog and Magog.

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