Daily Archives: May 10, 2009

Arundhati Roy at Karachi Press Club

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Do the Swatis exist?

Abbas Zaidi

Only till two weeks before, Pakistan’s overwhelmingly right wing media, the traditionally left leaning Awami National Party (ANP), the born again Islamists like Imran Khan, right of the centre Nawaz League, and the centrist Zardari People’s Party were applauding the agreement between the ANP government and the Taliban. With the honorable exception of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM), the entire political leadership of Pakistan ganged up and pushed the ANP-Taliban agreement through the national assembly without a word by way of debate. This was a complete disgrace to whatever democracy stands for. There were people like Dr Hoodbhai who called the agreement an appeasement, but all the dissenting voices, very few of them indeed, were killed off by the government and the media. It was claimed that soon the agreement would result in total peace in Swat. TV channels cried hoarse claiming that the people of Swat had been dying for the agreement. “The people of Swat want peace and this agreement will restore peace”. TV reporters gave countless “verbatim” accounts of the sudden explosions of joy in every part of the Swat valley. I remember watching a foul-mouthed anchor, who is dead sure there are Jews and Hindus behind every trouble in Pakistan, claiming that “a wave of euphoria has swept the entire peace-loving people of Swat who are willing to sacrifice everything for peace and Islam”.

Interestingly, no Swatis were ever interviewed to voice the above claims. Continue reading

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