Skip to main content

VIEW: Swat Deal: Profitable Merger or Hostile Takeover?

PUBLISHED IN THE POST AS Swat deal: a hostile takeover? SEP 22, 2008

When a house came under rocket attack in Peshawar cantonment on 19th May, the incident went without serious comment because after all, these acts are commonplace enough in 2008. What made it significant for me was that the very house had once been my home. That would be the year when Soviets had all but withdrawn from Afghanistan and the only close call then had been an airspace incursion from the Afghan side of the border. But, what happened in the confrontation between the fearless Afghan pilot and military officials present that day is no where as alarming as what happened 19 years later with the fearsome pro-Taliban and the State officials elected today.

A peace treaty in war torn Swat has a nice ring to it. Does a pacification strategy towards militancy mean that a country which stood up to Communism capitulated to Fascism? Not so, say government officials who hasten to draw a distinction between peace loving militants all set to renounce violence over hard core elements bent on carrying out so called ‘jihad’ in neighbouring Afghanistan and openly loath to giving up claim to the killing fields of Pakistan. But a great deal hinges on the successful implementation of this 4-pronged strategy where the tribal elders have been recruited as intermediaries between State and subversive elements: domestic stability, global security and similar cheering notions.

Here is what people can expect in the coming days with a 3 stage agreement that began with a ceasefire on May 9, 2008, followed by the headline that “Taliban ban NGOs, women education in Orakzai Agency”. Briefly, the agreement promises truce with Pak Army and security forces: women allowed to work: polio vaccinations permitted, music shops and barbers free to operate, foreign militants expelled, private militias disbanded and display of arms prohibited. In short, everything people are entitled to as free citizens of any sovereign State. In exchange for the release of captured militants, withdrawal of Pak Army troops and imposition of Sharia – the Islamic law in Swat and Malakand.

Roughly translated, this means that local Taliban will let women work; ‘Let’ being the operative word here; only if they are forced into the veil. Else, they probably will be sorted out in the grand traditions of the jirga. So we can safely assume that this Sharia is the kind that dragged our neighbour back to the Stone Age. Then there is the proviso that government schools and hospitals stand to be monitored and ‘erring employees’ dealt with severely, Taliban style. CSNEWS.com reveals that a local Taliban Commander’s permission is required to send a female to school. Such is the agreement, accompanied by thinly veiled threats by Taliban ordering the State to ‘O-behave’ and stay the course or incur the wrath of an ‘organized power not to be easily thwarted’. Finally, the ones who wrecked Pakistan’s internal security may sue our current President for nothing less than crimes against humanity, or rather against their people.

And here is what we may expect elsewhere in Pakistan. Nothing. A key aspect of the contract has already been breached with a renewal in the cycle of violence in Islamabad and continuance of bombings and suicide attacks during and after the ‘peace’ agreement in and around the tribal belt. By early June music shops started winding up business in Kohat, an attack on the President’s life was foiled and 4 policemen were ambushed by signatories of the peace treaty. To date, the Capital remains on high alert.

Despite such open violations, the army pullout went ahead as per schedule, release of militants has already begun and the tribal supervision meant to ensure compliance appears questionable. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister draws attention to the spirit behind the deal which in his words is neither capitulation, nor compromise but peaceful coexistence. Perhaps the Taliban did not get the memo. When Ben Franklin stated that there never was a good war or bad peace, he was clearly not referring to us.

Now Pakistanis may not have voted in any Taliban sympathizers, the entrepreneurial spirit of Taliban seems to have found a new home nevertheless. The story with the fugitive from Afghanistan had a happier ending for he surrendered unconditionally; the MIG-21 now sits in a museum in Karachi and its pilot went on to pursue his American dream. Not a bad deal.

Images Courtesy of: http://www.pakdef.info/pakmilitary/airforce/warbirds/images/mig21_957.jpg

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…

VIEW: Of Clarion Calls and Golden Statuettes / By Afrah Jamal

First Published in Daily Times /Saturday, March 17, 2012

Elegiac laments for a fading film industry are interrupted midway with news that could give the documentary film medium at least a new lease of life. It owes its resurrection to a young filmmaker, who mined troubling sound-bytes overheard in theatres where war, injustice or social disparity reigns supreme. Clips aired at the third Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) held earlier this year provided glimpses of her work, including the internationally acclaimed ‘Saving Face’. At the time, she had an Emmy stacked away for one documentary and was just weeks away from winning an Academy Award for another. At the time, she had been relentlessly crusading to rid societies of those anachronistic practices (among other ills) that weigh them down in the modern world. And — despite these glittering credentials — her work was largely unknown amongst Pakistanis.

The young Oscar nominee who took the stage that day would soon be the face of a bur…

BOOK REVIEW: DIARIES OF FIELD MARSHAL MOHAMMAD AYUB KHAN 1966-1972

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
PUBLISHED IN THE POST AUG 29, 2007

Books allow people to have their say. Diaries express what they actually meant. Therefore, every prominent personality must stray from the path of political correctness and leave behind a diary. One way to regain an insight into the defining moments of our history post ‘65 War would be through the diaries of Pakistan’s first military ruler and first C-in-C, Field Marshal M. Ayub Khan, who also authored the book, ‘Friends. Not Masters’. The personal lives of public figures are always intriguing; while their contemporaries indict/acquit them on consequences of their actions, diaries give individuals a rare shot at swaying the upcoming generation of juries. Recorded during the uneasy calm before an inevitable storm brewing on the Eastern horizon and Indian front, the entries, spanning 7 years from September 1966 - October 1972, are replete with shrewdness and candor of a narrator who observed the events initially as a key player…

BOOK REVIEW: Hira Mandi / Author: Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson

Published in Daily Times Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reproduced on Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson's Website

Translated from French by Priyanka Jhijaria

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

A programme about Hira Mandi did the internet rounds a couple of years ago. It claimed, among other things, that the sons of the ‘dancers’ reportedly end up as lawyers, doctors, artists — a few join politics and some even reach the military. These outrageous statistics may be one of the reasons the documentary was banned from the mainstream media. That and its primary premise — the plight of the fallen women — would prompt the conservatives to howl with dismay before scurrying off to bury any evidence in the backyard along with other bodies.


Claudine Le Tourneur d’Ison embeds such wrenching moments in a bold narrative where its doomed protagonist can hail the brave new world and its genteel patrons from an extraordinary vantage point. The expedition to the underworld with the unfortunate progeny and the hapless…

SERIES REVIEW: THE HEROES OF OLYMPUS / Rick Riordan (2013)

First Published inDaily Times / 5 Jan 2013

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Demigod fans who bade farewell to Percy – (son of Poseidon) & the Olympian franchise a few years ago must have wondered what the writer was up to as they came across a ‘final’ Prophesy conveniently left unresolved at the end of the saga.

The Last Olympian’ concluded the five part series wrapping up Percy Jackson & his merry band of demi-gods' extended arc with a high-octane finale and an emotional send-off. Though Rick Riordan had moved on to explore Egypt in ‘The Kane Chronicles’, he wasn’t done with Olympus, its ever shifting centre of power or its hoity-toity god population for that matter.

The cryptic warning heard in the final pages is used to establish the credentials of this spin-off. The gods return in the ‘Heroes of Olympus’ series - distant as ever and in Roman form heralding a brand new dawn with the promise of new crusades, a shiny new quest, fresh faces and an ancient threat. And Percy is b…

BOOK REVIEW: No Easy Day : The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden

First Published by Daily Times / Oct 06, 2012

Authors: Mark Owen & Kevin Maurer
Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
Published under the Title:Signed, SEAL(ed) and Delivered



The men who paid Pakistan a hurried visit in the dead of the night typically do not leave calling cards. Or talk shop with strangers. And they are expected to shun the limelight. One broke the commandment recently. As a member of the SEAL Team 6 — Naval Special Warfare Development Group or DEVGRU, Mark Owen (not his real name) had been in the downed ‘helo’ (helicopter) — the one Pakistanis discovered lying in their backyard.

His book provides a valuable timeline of events leading up to ‘Operation Neptune Spear’ in Abbottabad (or ‘Abababa’ as they insist on calling it), cutting through the official haze. With 13 consecutive combat deployments to his credit, the author paints a group portrait of America’s finest that had been handpicked for the job in an attempt to overturn the media-created hype. He calmly reasons, “If my com…

VIEW: WOMEN in the PAF: AN ENSEMBLE CAST

PUBLISHED in HILAL (Pakistan Armed Forces Magazine) Feb 2010

By Afrah Jamal

Progressive - Conservative - Contemporary - Professional; separately these terms could apply to any service; together they were reserved for just one - the PAF.

Pakistan Air Force has kept in touch with its roots through its glorious traditions and kept up with the changing times with innovative thinking. Oftentimes, traditions that made it stand apart have also stood in the way of, well - progress. Consequently, the service nimbly skipped past the one proposed change that was going to have a profound effect on the lives of countless young girls and would forever alter the way society perceived their womenfolk.

Before 1994, Lady Officers were a rare sight in the PAF. So rare in fact, that when male cadets donned wigs to represent the female species in annual variety shows, nobody wondered why. By 2010, women have become an indispensable part of the service. While, PAF was no stranger to a woman in uniform, a f…