Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Swat opinion from Swat

  • Search our BLOG

  • HOME
    Terrorist Names SEARCH:

    Saturday, November 24, 2007

    Swat opinion from Swat

    What goes wrong in Swat?

    Shahzada Alamgir Swati

    One wonders what is going on in Swat. Obviously all is not well. All that is appearing in newspaper columns indicates our lack of understanding. We are unable to perceive what is actually going on there. Is it only the issue of demanding Shariah implementation? Is it the government's denial of budging on the demands of the militants? Should the government resort to such an extreme action if it is just a political or religious issue?

    In fact, most of the people but also the well-informed media men are not aware that it is neither an issue of Shariah implementation, nor is it sense of deprivation, etc. Shariah was the demand of Sufi Muhammad of Tehrik Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM) about three decades ago. At that time there were neither Taliban nor al Qaeda. He was not receiving backing or funding from any foreign country. This indigenous movement led to an agreement with the then provincial government of Aftab Sherpao. However, the courts' name was changed such as Ilaqa Qazi's adalat, etc, which are still working. During the Taliban move, Sufi Muhammad went to Afghanistan along with 500 minor students. Later in a fierce fight, all his students were killed. He fled back to Pakistan and went into hiding. This put him in a great dilemma as parents and relatives of those innocent students were outraged. Sufi was left with no option but to stage-manage his surrender to the authorities in order to save himself from being killed by the locals.

    In his absence, Sufi's son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, known as 'Molvi Polio' and 'Mullah Radio', took control of his father-in-law's madrassa. The military operation in North and South Waziristan resulted in the expulsion of a number of foreigners including Arabs, Uzbeks and Tajiks, who sneaked into Swat Valley and chose Maulana Fazlullah's area as their hideout. Molvi Polio's background gives us some dubious accounts of his past life, but as locals talk about, he was expelled from a madrassa near Rawalpindi on a charge of unnatural offence. He remained involved in criminal activities and emerged as a gang leader who used to collect bhatta using a den inside a Dir cave. Locals' resentment was evident from the fact that they stayed away from sending their children to his madrassa when suddenly he took over the charge after Sufi Muhammad's 'disappearance'.

    Wealth started pouring in along with mysterious movement of unknown faces. Brand new high powered four-wheel vehicles started roaring around. Fazlullah got bodyguards and started moving on a black stallion with a double-edged sword in his hands. Some locals also got attracted towards him, thanks to his generosity and hospitality. As things unfolded, it came to the fore that al Qaeda and Taliban-connected foreigners, most of them Tajiks and Uzbeks, were the source of stuffing his kitty. This is, however, a myth as from where had those men of al Qaeda and Taliban who were supposed to be on the run got money? Those whom we call men of al Qaeda are not supposed to be in the age group between 20 to 30 but 50 to 65. They must be of Osama or al-Zawahiri's age. They are the people who, in their 30s, joined jihad against Russia in the early 1980s and later joined the Taliban in Afghanistan. They never went back, even when the tide turned against them after 9/11. But the people we see around Fazlullah, none of them happens to be in the 50s or 60s. They are all youth and battle-worthy mercenaries. I am sure al Qaeda and Takfiris mostly consist of people from the Middle East and Arabian Africa.

    Let us find out who are the men around Fazlullah in Swat and Baitullah Mahsuod in Waziristan. According to AFP, Reuters, AP, Asia Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post and The New York Times reports, these Chechens, Uzbeks and Tajiks are criminalswanted by their respective governments. Many of them sought refuge in Afghanistan after President Islam Karimov launched a crackdown against them. Many of them took part in the Chechens' war against Russia and the bloodshed unleashed by Putin's army led them to seek refuge in areas along the Pak-Afghan border. These people's presence in Swat is no more a mystery. The question is how they got heavy weapons, money and men? The question is why they chose Swat and other areas? It was understood that Pakistan Army's 90,000 troops are deployed at the porous Pak-Afghan border; a few miles of it has also been fenced. NATO forces are vigilant on the other side of the border. When locals in Waziristan, sensing that those foreigners had nothing to do with Islam and were exploiting their hospitality, they took arms against them, killed many of them and forced others to flee. Why they chose Swat as their next hideout is not difficult to answer, but here we will have to see who actually happens to be the mastermind of all that has happened and what is going to happen.

    It is everybody's guess that there is someone working from behind the scenes who does not want this unrest to end. The unrest is engineered to go out of proportion, sending a strong message to the world that the strategic assets of Pakistan can go into extremists' hands. Therefore, think-tanks are suggesting to the US administration to shift this arsenal to California lest there is no time left. The game plan is different from what is being seen on the surface. An Indian think-tank's website has claimed that New Delhi has its ground assets placed in Swat Valley and Pakistan army commanders' conversation is being recorded and passed on to Fazlullah and his men. Pakistan's Director General Military Operations had mentioned the hand of enemy countries and the Peshawar Corps Commander endorsed the fact that Fazlullah's men are using highly sophisticated equipment. That is why the government saw a technical difficulty in jamming more than 100 radio channels through which the 'Mullah Radio' delivers secret messages and jihad or Shariah sermons. Peaceful citizens of Swat and surrounding areas are terrified. Fazlullah and his followers are threatening them against moving to safe places and using them as human shields. Ancient archaeological sites, which date back to the Buddhist era, are under threat of extinction. It is time to stop their advance, extirpate them from their roots and clean the Valley of their influence, once and for all. But at the same time there is need to introduce social reforms, development plans and transformation into the mainstream of society. This has to be taken as an opportunity to knock out the unwanted and pave the way for a permanent solution. The government will have to solve problems, it will have to remove the sense of deprivation and injustice and restore the confidence of locals who are peace-loving and equally patriotic.

    The writer, a resident of Swat, is an academic, author of a number of books on history and archaeology

    Ray Robison UpDATE, Outlook




    Post a Comment

    Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

    << Home