Posted by Raza Rumi
Zubair Torwali has reported from the field and debunked the perverse myths on the flogging video. This is followed by the brave and daring Samar Minallah’s account of the flogging saga and what more proof do Taliban sympathisers want. PTH is carrying these two pieces in solidarity with these two individuals who believe in a progressive and peaceful Pakistan and condemn militancy at great personal risk.
Swat has witnessed many harsh and cruel days. For about two years, it presented a view of Afghanistan during the heyday of the Afghan Taliban. The man who ignited the situation against the state of Pakistan — Sufi Mohammad — was spared (seemingly by design) for about three years. The MMA was then the ruling government in the province. In 2008, a half-hearted operation was launched under the name of Rah-e-Haq but it was evident then that the action being taken against the insurgents was not serious. However, soon the situation became very grave and serious when the hanging of slit-throated and beheaded bodies became a routine, and the Grain Chowk in Mingora became notorious as the ‘Khooni Chowk’. Upon intense pressure from the people of Swat and the media, the government decided to try and settle the issue peacefully. A long deliberation and negotiations were carried out at the start of 2009 to reach a settlement. In the wake of this endeavour, a peace deal was signed with the Taliban in February 2009. Emboldened by the very apparent capitulation on the part of the government, the militants expanded their writ to the nearby districts of Buner and Dir. The people’s reaction to the peace deal was mixed. Some thought it would bring permanent peace to the Valley but there were many who were cynical and thought that the peace deal was carried out on the terms put forward by the militants. They were of the opinion that since the Taliban were non-state actors, they would not comply with the truce. Their apprehensions proved true and the Taliban extended their ‘rule’ beyond Swat. Continue reading
By Ibrahim Khalil
The Defense Ministry is optimistic that Military will finish Swat operation in a few days. Let us hope and pray that it ends as predicted. However, contrary to what many people believe, end of military operation will not mark the end of the problem. If the reportedly successful Bajaur operation has taught us anything, it is that a new set of challenges will be waiting for us once the military declares the area fit for repatriation of IDPs. The government needs to have a plan in place to tackle these challenges otherwise any gains that army has achieved in its war with extremists will be lost in the battle for hearts of IDPs. Continue reading
Posted by Raza Rumi
Let us all us join hands to alleviate the sufferings of the people who need our help
North West Frontier of Pakistan faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis as more than 1,200,000 displaced people flee the mountain districts of Swat, Buner, Shangla and Lower Dir as the war between insurgents and the government of Pakistan intensifies. As the army has moved into these to initiate military action to evict the area from the insurgents, the people of these areas are leaving their homes behind in hundreds to safer sanctuaries in other parts of the province. The displaced people are leaving in a hurry carrying barely anything from their homes to help them through this tribulation. About 10% of these are being accommodated in camps established by the government at fourteen locations. Another 90% are finding refuge with social networks of families, tribes, clans, schools etc in districts far removed from their homes. The main districts where the pressure is falling are those of Mardan, Swabi, Malakand, Nowshera, Upper and Lower Dir, Peshawar, Charsadda. Continue reading
By Pamela Constable and Haq Nawaz Khan
Washington Post Foreign Service
GOLRA, Pakistan, May 6 — Hajji Karim and his extended family of 70 were camped in a dirt-floor stable 10 miles outside Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. It was as far as they could get from the Swat Valley, where thousands of people are fleeing from the ravages of the Taliban and the imminent prospect of war with government forces.
When Taliban fighters first entered Karim’s village last month, he recounted, they said they had come to bring peace and Islamic law, or sharia, to Swat. But the next day, two of the fighters dragged a policeman out of his truck and tried to slit his throat. Horrified, a crowd rushed over, shouting and trying to shield the officer. The fighters let him go, but the incident confirmed the villagers’ worst suspicions. Continue reading
By Bill Roggio
The Pakistani government has launched a military operation in the Taliban-controlled district of Buner. The operation is the second in three days in the Malakand Division, a region recently ceded to the Taliban in a controversial peace agreement. The Malakand Division encompasses nearly one-third of the Northwest Frontier Province.
Paramilitary fighters from the Frontier Corps backed by regular Army units, artillery, helicopter gunships, and attack aircraft moved into Buner this afternoon after the government warned the Taliban to “leave Buner or face action.” Continue reading
Raza Rumi laments the tragedies of our times, and says that the state cannot be absolved of its responsibility to protect citizens against terrorism (The Friday Times)
Lahore has finally been encircled by the layers and tremors of violence. If the events of March 2009 were not enough, there is now a concerted effort to create panic in the city. In the past few weeks, girls’ schools have been threatened that they would face the music for educating girls and promoting co-education. How can children and their middle-class urban parents survive these gruelling times? (pic left:Pir Baba’s shrine is now closed to visitors )
I have been naively protecting my children from the gory news. This is an age of violence. If a news channel displays human limbs and heads and the shrieks of a flogged girl, the cartoons present extensive violence and deadly, sadistic stunts for entertainment. Indeed, these are strange times to live in anywhere, especially in the land of the pure. Violence is a commodity; each news item carries an advertised price tag, and of course the cultural experience gets brutalised in this maze of uncertainty and confusion. Continue reading