Daily Archives: September 16, 2010

In The Name Of National Sovereignty

 By Raza Habib Raja

One of the most hyped up slogans on the media and the rightwing nationalist circles is of “National Sovereignty”. This slogan is so powerful that Pakistani leadership particularly that of PPP is always on the defensive. According to this “National Sovereignty” school of thought, Pakistan has sold its soul to the foreign powers due to personal greed of the ruler class and has compromised the autonomy by facilitating the drone attacks.

Currently the drone attacks are in full swing and almost daily we hear news regarding militants being killed. At the same time and not surprisingly these attacks, despite killing militants are continuously being cited as a “proof” of the great treachery. But then in the past, everything ranging from Nazam-i-Adl in Swat to Military action against Militants in tribal areas has been bracketed under the same category.

More than anything else, I find the whole issue of National Sovereignty, particularly the way it is interpreted and projected in the media as grossly irrational. It is in fact a manifestation of the worst kind of irrational patriotism. I would call it irrational patriotism because it is based on instincts and does not conform to rational self interest.

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Filed under Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, violence, War On Terror

The Battle for Pakistan: Dir

Dir Manzoor Ali’s excellent paper published here

Spread over 2,040 square miles in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Dir is fertile and picturesque, producing wheat, barley, and fruits and covered in fir, pine, and walnut trees. However, the terrain is craggy and inhospitable, and most of the population lives in the remote valleys and mountains that dot the district. Like neighboring Swat, Dir was a “princely state” until 1969, when the district was formally merged into the NWFP. Formerly a single district within the NWFP, Dir was divided into two districts — Upper and Lower Dir — in 1996.

Upper Dir is divided into five administrative units, or tehsils, called Dir, Barawal, Kohistan, Wari and Khall, while Lower Dir is divided into six: Timergarah, Balambat, Lalqila, Adenzai, Munda and Samarbagh. The population of Upper Dir is about 575,000, while the population of Lower Dir is approximately 720,000, according to a 1998 census. The districts have seven seats in the provincial assembly and two in the national assembly.

History of Dir: the forest and the treesDir and the neighboring districts of Chitral and Swat formed the NWFP’s Malakand Division, which was created in the 1970s and for the first time introduced federal governance to the area, replacing the traditional system of justice. In 1976, a legal dispute erupted between the nawab, or prince of Dir, who had previously controlled all the royalties from Dir’s forests and timber production, and the federal government, which had formed a corporation to harvest the forests. Timber merchants went on strike and killed two policemen in the Sharingal area of Dir. People in Karo, Nehag, and Usherai Darra also revolted against the state and demanded the abolition of the government’s corporation. Police and paramilitary scouts in Dir were not able to control the situation, and the Pakistani army was called in to to restore order. Later the same year, the government reduced its share of felled timber to 20 percent and ceded the rest to the traditional owners of the forests.

For the rest of this policy paper, click here.

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Filed under movements, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan