Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Killing Fields of Swat

By Saeed Qureshi

A colossal human tragedy is taking place in Swat. An orgy of blood is let loose on the swat inhabitants who are in the crossfire of both the brutal militants and a protector army. The war in swat and displacement of the huge population are such immense issues that need to be dealt with adroitness and unstinted resolution. The scenic valley is fast turning into the killing fields.

The government in Pakistan is weak and wobbly. It’s time, either there is a national government or the army takes over for a limited period of time- say a year or so-to stabilize the country, hold elections and recede to barracks. It is clear that the democracy alone is not a recipe or short cut to remove the heap of problems that poor Pakistan is face with.

Pakistan needs an articulate, sober and statesman like head of state who is not perched on the heap of forgiven felonies or exposed to questionable past and who is true to his words. How long our president can remain unleashed from the encumbrances of the past. The time for some one’s atonement for past shadowy doings should not be unlimited. Mr Zardari has not shown any inclination to improve upon his conduct; actually there is an inherent deformity in him of ineptitude and deviousness. He likes to dodge than to deliver. He is back bencher not the front runner. He is cut to be a mediocre, not to lead. In face of Swat calamity and the Balochistan abyss, he is still capable of giving a broad grin as if all was well with the state of Pakistan.

He agreed to restore the judges after colossal economic loss and social upheaval. His dillydallying on the promised amendment of the 17th amendment and expunction of 58-2/B, exemplifies the degree he can be tenacious on dishonoring his promises.

The saintly prime minister with a heavy baggage of shrine legacy, is too soft and perhaps naïve to effectively deal with an extra ordinary crisis and an earth shaking chaos. He is sandwiched between an overbearing yet vacillating president and an over-worried army head. His latest speech announcing action against the militants and financial succor for the displaced families of Swat indicated as if his head is in the hands of a non challant president while the tail is stepped over by the COAS.

The unique US visit, in these troubling situations, could have been cashed as a window of rare opportunity. But it went awry because Mr. Zardari is not Z. A. Bhutto or not even his shadow. Simple sweet grins, warm handshakes and bear hugs hardly matter in cutting the Gordian Knots of international diplomacy. One needs to be compelling, articulate and well stocked with knowledge. One could have bargained for 1.9 billion or 40 billion dollars, depended upon the advocacy and caliber of a pleader.

Mr Hussain Haaqani, the Pakistan’s envoy in Washington is a brilliant diplomat but he cannot fight to the last and his mandate is limited because he is not the president of Pakistan. The cultivation of American lobbies and to make meticulous arrangements for the presidential visit is all that he could do. And that part he has played exceptionally well.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s silver tongued foreign minister and a scion of shrine dynasty like the prime minister , some how remained overshadowed in the string of events in Washington. He was mostly conspicuous by his absence on the front rows.

The country is crying wolf. The combatants in the Karachi battlefield are outbidding each other to prove who would be a bigger goon in the final count. Elsewhere in the country the life is reverting to the cave period – a complete jungle law, no security, no food, no water, no power, no medicines, no transport et al. It’s a free for all situation and a field day for the mighty. The land grabbing mafia is on the rampage, aided and abetted by powerful politicos, law makers and law enforcers. The dacoits and robbers of all hues have spread their tentacles in the entire length and breadth of Pakistan. So much for the people’s rule, a people’s revolution and the rule by a people’s party!

Pakistan is a country where Muslims live, with countless mosques, shrines and unlimited number of relgious demagogues spewing, in full fury, five times a day the message of peace on behalf of Islam. They never tire exhorting their listeners that Islam means peace, justice and equality and help to poor. But where is the peace and all those nice values ascribed to Islam? The more steadfast Islamists cut the throats of their Muslim brethren decreeing them as infidels, yet the clerics say one individual’s unjustified murder was the murder of the whole humanity. Doesn’t this dichotomy make Islam a laughing stock? Perhaps the Muslim faithful have started disbelieving the sermons of Muslim preachers: only to be thundered from the pulpit but not to practice.

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