Swat, one more time
By Kamran Shafi
Tuesday, 10 Feb, 2009 | 02:14 PM PST |
….And now for the feedback on last week’s piece in which I had suggested a huge caravan made up of all the political parties: leaders, workers and us, the common, lay people of Pakistan, to go into Swat carrying food and clothing for the poor who had been displaced in their thousands by the firing (I did not say, ‘fighting’, everybody kindly note!) between the so-called security agencies and the extremists.
I have never had as many emails in response to an article. Most of them have been complimentary; two were hate-mail, calling me a kafir; and the usual, in which one is abused personally and viciously whenever one questions the army and/or the ISI for inefficiency and ineptness and duplicity. There were also some which asked in what proportion the political parties should be expected to participate.
In response, I can only thank those who support the idea and request them to please raise awareness among the people in general, and among their contacts within the political parties on a very urgent basis; bless those that call me a kafir and hope that their tribes increase; and last but not least, ask those who use personal abuse rather than reason to make a point, that they say what they say in open letters to the editor rather than in restricted emails. As to the proportion of the numbers of political party workers, I would suggest 100 for every MNA.
Zahid Zaman, a course-mate who reads books and whose counsel I respect, suggested to me after reading my piece on the Swat caravan that I should propose that the provincial government of the NWFP, or whichever name you wish to call it, move to Swat for as long as it takes to bring peace to the area.What a great idea! Why didn’t I think of it, I said to myself?! That was just the thing the provincial government should do — move lock, stock and barrel: all the ministries, babus, naib qasids and all; the police hierarchy, you name it, to Saidu Sharif. There to stay until the Mullah Radios and their murderous and barbaric ilk are chased from their redoubts — probably comfortable, luxuriously heated houses in the heart of Mingora — and until the people of that poor but bounteous land are enabled to get on with their lives as they have done for millennia.
Yes, that is exactly what Chief Minister Amir Haider Hoti should do, and take his top adviser, his Dad Azam Hoti with him to guide him, and advise him on how to sort out the Swat imbroglio. Just that one move should send the shivers up the establishment’s spine like nobody’s business! Just watch them find Mullah Radio’s FM station then.
Which reminds me: the ‘rocket science’ of triangulation, or to put it another, more modern way, ‘trilateration’ is, as I suggested last week, as old as the Swat hills. Why then has the great ISI, the Mother of All Agencies, not been able to find Mullah Radio’s radio station? When will this great charade end, please, sirs?
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke should be in the Land of the Pure by the time you read this. Might one ask him one more time to route any/all enquiries he might have on the quite frightening and completely out of control situation in Swat/Fata to the civilian government and to no other agency?
This is imperative, ambassador; to give the elected government the confidence it so badly needs in staring down the men on horseback (well, actually sickly donkeys, if you ask me) who were so strongly and so foolishly supported by the previous US administration. You must remember, ambassador, that the United States made itself so many enemies only because it was perceived to be close to the dictatorship of the army rather than to the people of Pakistan.
Also, it is a great idea to tie US aid to specific aims and objectives, and to route it ALL through the civilian federal government, leaving it to the government to determine how much goes into which sector: education, health, infrastructure development, defence, war on terror, whatever.
To my own government I say: since you have stuffed the idea that this ‘war on terror is our war’ down our throats so hard, repeating the mantra ad nauseam and so often, it is time you stopped begging the Americans for every little expense incurred on it. Such as diesel fuel! Ask for night vision devices, for helicopters, for equipment to detect incoming FM signals for that matter (!), but do please stop asking for diesel money! We must have some self-respect if it is indeed ‘our’ war.
So then, who will the United Nations ‘fact-finding’ mission to investigate Benazir Bhutto’s cruel murder first interrogate? Surely Asif Ali Zardari, president of the Citadel of Islam, for saying out loud that he knows exactly who the killers are!
Joke, joke!! While this is a joke, could a head of state of any other country in the whole wide world say he knew the killers of a person, any person, without being pounced upon by crime investigation agencies of the state itself?
Can you imagine President Barack Obama saying any such thing without the D.C. police knocking on the door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and asking questions? Leave America aside, can anyone imagine the Indian president, or the prime minister, saying such a thing and the local police and the CBI not asking them to explain themselves?
We are a very unique country indeed. Ambassador Holbrooke has his job cut out for him.