A three day seminar conducted by Pakistan Army at Swat.
“The fundamental responsibility of a Muslim ruler is to create conditions conducive enough whereby the people can lead their lives according to ‘Sirate Mustaqeem’ (straight path).” Raja Mujtaba
Prime Minister Yuosuf Raza Gillani concludes the seminar
General Ashfaq Kayani delivered the key note address
War on terror has left many questions, scars and created many new problems that are not easy to address but need our urgent attention and focus. Many would keep writing for and against but that will not solve the problem. What we need is a focused approach that rises above every other interest and keeps the national interest paramount.
If we look back at the history, Pakistan Army has never failed to deliver be it in internal insurgencies or external threats. In erstwhile East Pakistan, Army did a commendable job but the political process was never allowed. Main hurdle being Z A Bhutto who wanted to grab power by all means.
In February 1973, there was a private dinner at the residence of Anwar Jehangir Khan, then a federal secretary. Amongst his selected guests were also Qudrat Ullah Shahab and Khurshid Hassan Mir. In those days, the later was a Minister without portfolio and the Secretary General of Bhutto’s People’s Party. I questioned him point blank about the statement of Z A Bhutto, “Udhar Tum, Idhar Hum” (you in that wing and we in this wing). This was a clear message to disintegrate Pakistan. To my questioning, first he denied this statement, seeing my determination to get the truth he began to give evasive answers, hearing the conversation, Qudrat Ullah Shahab walked towards us and told Khurshid Hassan Mir in very categorical words, that he must not evade but give the truth. When left with no option, the truth came in the following words, “The high command of PPP had decided that the 1970 elections were the most fair elections in Pakistan’s history, never before that and nor after that such fair elections would be held. Hence it was decided the PPP must not sit on the opposition benches.” Now after quoting this, I would leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusions.
Here I would not dilate what Bhutto did at the UN General Assembly and how he treated the Polish resolution but I would say it with certainty that in East Pakistan, it was a political failure but the entire blame was shifted on the army. It was Bhutto who began to ridicule the army at every forum. Pakistan Army should take a lesson from this past history. Unfortunately even now it’s the same PPP that’s in power. If there is another major catastrophe, they would very conveniently shift the entire blame on the army and clean their hands off all this muck.
Starting of Swat operation was no easy task, the disgruntled who were not finding any relief from the political governments were pushed to the wall where they became tools in foreign hands. Mostly the lot who formed TTP were from low social cadre with little or no education took up arms against the governments that paid no heed to their genuine demands. What they were demanding was justice, end of oppression and poverty with equal opportunities for all. Every so called democratically elected government confined themselves to slogans and rhetorics, not paying any heed to people’s problems.
Here it must be mentioned that primarily it was General Parvez Musharraf who pushed the country in this war of America with no exit plans. He mercilessly handed over people to FBI and CIA etc. for paltry sum of money. It is said that his son sold Dr Aafia Sidiqqui for some 55,000 dollars. Likewise he also handed over Mullah Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan was also handed over to the Americans. Likewise many more innocent people were handed over. These people became possible plants for America to destabilize Pakistan. Once their indoctrination was completed, they were released to get back to Pakistan via Afghanistan where they were further briefed and armed to fight Pakistan at every front. Thereafter, series of suicide raids started shaking Pakistan to hilt.
The PPP government elected in 2008 without giving a study owned the American war on terror as Pakistan’s war. This further deteriorated the law and order situation in the country. Army’s image hit rock bottom, people began to hate army. The new elected government’s only concern was to please and appease America that in turn raised the anti-American sentiment, even the moderate educated Muslims turned anti-America therefore getting radicalized of people with less or no education is nothing surprising.
The indifferent attitude of the government functionaries makes the things worse. In the last floods where the whole country was under water, both President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gillani for having ball on foreign tours. People felt abandoned and degraded then what choice do people have? The failure of the government to respond to people’s needs along with it’s role in to derail the reinstallation of judiciary was enough for the people to get disillusioned. Justice is the basic need of any society, when the whole judicial system was choked and placed in a deadlock then with no possibility of any redressing of problems in sight further complicated the situation.
People in power never want to address the root cause but just kill the product of the cause. If people in power address the root of the problem, then they would have to forego many of their perks and privileges what to talk of their blatant corruption of every kind. To this end no political party or individual is willing to give up.
The 3 day seminar organized by Pakistan Army at Mingora, Swat was a mega event. It had participants from all walks of life and from foreign lands also. For the first time an event was conducted by Pakistan Army where politicians, NGOs, local people, media, opinion makers, academia etc. with divergent views were sitting under one roof. Army was magnanimous to take criticism with a smile.
Lt General Mustafa, the former Chief of General Staff gave a complete run down on how the operation was planned and launched with minimal damage to property and civilian casualties. Army handled a mass migration of over 2.5 million people from the battle zone before commencing the operation. This movement in itself was an operation of a magnitude. The people who moved out from here to other parts of the country were welcomed as guests by fellow Pakistanis. After three and a half month, their move back into their homes with no losses to property or belongings was a major feat from any standards.
Presently Pakistan Army is busy rehabilitating juveniles who were recovered from the terrorist groups. Army has deployed Dr Fariha Peracha along with her team. She is a dedicated worker and very professional. But what she is doing there will not de-radicalize the society but only only a few handful of people who have been made available to her. What she is working on is the cure process, what’s required are the preventive measures. If already not, Army should mobilize some centers for her own men who also need to be decompressed after such a heavy tense fighting all around. I am definite there must be many officers and soldiers who would have had some adverse affects of this war. They too need a follow up.
Preventive measures are neither with the army nor with Dr Fariha, these squarely rest with the politicians at all levels, more so in Islamabad. This is not Army’s duty, any deeper involvement in this, would distract or draw it thin for its actual role. This responsibility must be shouldered by the federal/provincial governments under their supervisions. On the first day of the seminar Mian Iftikhar, Khayber Pakhtoonkhawa Minister for Information also addressed the participants. His whole emphasis was on party promotion but never talked of how to bring normalcy to the area or rehabilitating the juveniles back in the society. It was a meaningless participation of his.
As said by Jalaluddin Romi, “A state can survive on kuffar but not without justice and fairplay.” No government ever has given any heed to this basic pillar of Islam or any civilization. People were being suppressed and pushed back, open katcheries (courts) were held in routine with some selected audience and all ok report was generated. The gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ widened by the day. As the gaps widened so did the disillusionment and despondency.
The rulers must set their course right, bring their false elevated of living at par with the rest, must not be a drain on the financial health of the country, must provide space to everyone to vent his/her feelings. Now in this acute load shedding, the rulers must share the sufferings like in the battle of trenches, where the companions came to the Prophet (S.A.W.) with stone slabs tied on their stomachs to kill their hunger. The great Prophet raised his shirt and showed them that he had tied two slabs. Seeing this all went back and had no complaints.
Justice is the key issue, justice is the bond of a society, justice is the last resort of any person and let it be provided as the first resort also. For it to become the first resort, merit needs to be adhered to and very strictly. In Swat everyone talked of the Nizame Adal of the Waali (Ruler) of Swat. Talking to Mussarat Ahmed Zeb, the daughter in law of the last Waali, she explained that it was a three tier process. The Lower Court was manned by the Tehsildar then was the Qazi Court followed by Supreme Court. The Supreme Judge was the Waali. Nizame Adal was predominantly was Shriah based followed by common sense. Litigants were free to go to any court and the court would listen to them for a speedy and cost free justice. This system needs to be given a thorough study with suitable recommendations it must be implemented in rest of Pakistan.
FATA is another sore point, it deserves immediate attention of the authorities. What must be done is to declare it a province, appoint a governor and let the local Tribal Maliks manage it in their own style and tradition. This way it would be drawn into mainstream of the national integration.
There are some external factors too that instigate radicalism; these also need to be addressed. One such strong factor is the US. American arrogance and stubbornness to pollute the Pakistani society with her cultural values that can not be accepted here. One such latest initiative has been promotion and patronage of gay culture. Recently the US embassy held a party with a message that the US would extend all help to the gays in the country. Now the Americans knowing it fully well that no Muslim society accept any official backing to such uncivilized acts but she is still adamant to push it down the throats of the Muslims.
Drawing of caricatures, using foul language against the Prophet of Islam is another strong factor that antagonizes the Muslims all over the world, Pakistan being no exception.
American presence in Afghanistan from where she is present to diminish Islam and Islamic values under the so called war on terror is another major contributor in radicalization of the society.
Continuous launching of the drones against tribal people where countless innocent civilians have been killed has also forced the people to pick up arms against the Americans and those forces that support American operations in the region.
On the sidelines of the seminar, talking to Ms Malkanthi Hettiarachchi, a delegate from Sri Lanka, I asked her how did her country manage to put an end to thirty years long war that was sponsored by India. She said that firstly both sides had exhausted and more so the Tamil Tigers and wanted a settlement. She was very specific in saying that Sri Lanka kept the Western powers at bay and never allowed them any role in this separatist war. The US and her allies took a serious offence to this and stopped all support to Sri Lanka. Both the government and the people were determined to go without it that ultimately proved to be a correct decision. She was all smiles in mentioning Pakistan’s help in this context where the Sri Lankans could defeat the Tamils. Later they were brought on the table to seal the long war to a positive logical conclusion. Reason for not allowing these powers a role was stated by Malkanthi was that they tend to spread tentacles and bring in more problems. Raymond Davis’s role in Pakistan is a point in case.
Pakistan should take a note of what she said. After all Sri Lanka, a much smaller country pitched against a much larger country through a proxy war managed to defeat India. And how important it is get away from the influence of the US.
Seeing the performance of the Pakistan Army, the locals have developed a strong faith in her that they are demanding permanent army presence in Swat. Army is not the permanent solution, every department must play her role. Law and order is the responsibility of the provincial governments therefore it must be managed through civil administration. To reinforce their efforts, its recommended that a para-military force, namely Swat Scouts may be raised there. This, besides providing them with security would also generate employment for the locals that’s so badly needed there.
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff presented his keynote address. In his address he mentioned that Pakistan Army shall remain answerable to the parliament through her members which was widely appreciated. But people did feel that since army was conducting the seminar therefore Gen Kayani was the host and he should have mixed up with the participants instead of locking himself up in a room with a selected few. General Zia was very popular for he would miss no opportunity to mix up with the people.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani was a complete disappointment. People were of the opinion that he would announce some heavy financial outlay for the development of Swat Valley but it was a complete silence on that account. Being a public man that he claims with a pride too shunned to meet the public and kept a long distance from the participants.
To conclude, Swat must be declared war ravaged area and given development at an accelerated pace. It is fruit growing area that has lot of potential to develop on the Chinese model. Besides its tourism potential be developed and exploited to its maximum benefit. This would certainly draw almost everyone into some kind of employment.
General amnesty be announced to all, including the king pins. A time frame should be laid down. Those who surrender, welcome them with open arms and screen them through a process and graded accordingly. Keep them under watch for the next few years. This amnesty should also be extended to Balochistan and Karachi.
Restructure the judicial system, the political system, where the CEC would need to be far more assertive and independent.
No one should be allowed to play with Islam. As this hurts the feelings of the masses then that tend to radicalize them. Those who do not believe in Islam in spite of the fact of being born in a Muslim home must be told to keep shut.
No political party should be allowed to operate against the state ideology. This should be made clear through CEC and candidates so fielded must give an undertaking that they uphold the Islamic ideology of Pakistan.