Militancy: 1200 schools closed in Swat

She, a B.A. student, wrote that it was her dream to complete her education before her marriage, which was expected next year, but all the educational institutions forced to close and girls threatened to not attend any school, college or university which ruined her life and career and wasted one precious year.

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4 Responses to Militancy: 1200 schools closed in Swat

  1. How Swat the Valley of Tourism was lost to Terrorism?
    Swat, a scenic valley in the NWFP, Pakistan has always been a tourist attraction as its topography is extremely beautiful. A fertile land sandwiched between two ranges of picturesque mountains and a blue water river flowing in the middle makes it a natural tourist and picnic spot. However the valley was thrown into a war and destruction when a so called Pro-Taliban group headed by Fazlullah got control of the region. The government forces have now regained control of the most parts of the area and it would seem that ultimately they shall prevail. However Swat offers a classic case study from where the government and the communities need to learn few valuable lessons. Two important questions need reflections and answers. How extremism came to Swat and living there need to questions may arise chief among them- how Swat was lost? and how identical terrorist encroachment in other parts of Pakistan can be avoided. Let us soul search and find answer to these questions:
    HOW SWAT WAS LOST TO EXTREMISM AND TERRORISM:
    The following are some of the key factors which contributed to the Swat take over by extremist elements:

    SPILL OVER FROM THE AFGHAN WAR:
    The origin of most of the extremists can be traced back to the war in Afghanistan against Russia. The American CIA in collaboration with Pakistani intelligence agencies started recruiting civilians mainly from Pukhtoon areas of NWFP and tribal areas and brain washed them to fight against Russians. The same strategy was also used to fight a proxy war in Kashmir. Civilians Pukhtoons brainwashed into believing that the war in Afghanistan was a Jihad (Holy war) against infidel occupying forces enthusiastically fought. However when the Russians were driven out of Afghanistan the Western powers and the Pakistani intelligence agencies washed hands from Afghanistan and left it to self-destruction without ever thinking that it will have spill over effects in Pakistan and the world at large. The recent turmoil in Swat is the side effects of that flawed strategy where people once used are dumped in self and others destruction.

    MISUSE OF RELIGION:
    The main theme adopted by the Fazlullah team in Swat was the imposition of Shariah or Islamic laws. In the beginning of 2007 he had begun to call the Swat Valley an “Islamic Emirate.” and started imposing Taliban style of Islam publicly punishing petty criminals and beheading some of them in the guise of Islamic laws. As almost all of the people are Muslims no one wanted to be seen against Islam and thus kept quite. In fact tribal governance was deliberately promoted and mistakenly perceived as Islam. In fact some of the local authorities also refrained from confronting these bands of thugs who beautifully exploited and misused the name of Islam and took control of the whole region. It is not the first time that someone has used the religion for their own interests rather history is full of thousands of examples when cunning dictators, terrorists, manipulators, business people and other sick minded people misused religion and the whole communities were subdued. tribal governance mistakenly describing it as Islam.

    FEAR TACTICS:
    “It was gruesome,” was how a resident of Shakkardarra described the scene of beheading of the law-enforcement personnel. He told Dawn newspaper in Pakistan on phone that masked militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles brought the four men to the village at around 5pm, fired a few shots in the air and then beheaded them. The men, said to be in their mid-20s, had their hands tied together. They were pushed to the ground on the main Matta-Mingora road and had their heads chopped off. “Let this serves as a warning to all those who spy for the government or help the government. All sons of Bush will meet similar fate,” the resident quoted one of the militants announcing shortly before the execution. The public execution and use of brutal force was to scare the people and scare they did as no one wanted to become an identical example.

    DISUNITY AMONG THE PEOPLE:
    As a teen I used to remember that people in my village will immediately unite and fight back any outsider interfering with their lives or communal affairs. It is not surprising how villages comprising of tens of thousands of people armed to the teeth were scared from hardly 10 persons in each village who represented this bigotry because there was no unity. In fact everyone was hoping that these bands will harm others and do not touch them. On the other hand most of the Khans and rich people who could have provided leadership to the masses left their villages and shifted to safe places in big cities like Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. My mother says that most of our neighbours in our village in Swat had left. This disunity coupled with collective cowardice on the part of the people encouraged these extremists to control the area who committed abominable excesses on them including beheading, public lashing, demanding food by force etc. My mother laughingly told me that the Mullahs will announce in loud speakers and ask people to bring eggs and other good food and people out of fear will oblige. “It is total cowardice” she quipped.

    ECONOMIC MOTIVES:
    Chamnay Khan one of the leading commander or also known as Amir in Chuprial village, Matta is one of the die supporters of this movement. Siddique a friend from Swat informed me that how once in Thailand the said Chamnay Khan drank almost the whole bottle of whisky. It is also reported that in Malaysia the said person was involved in homosexuality and begging donation even from non-Muslim Chinese. Judging from the character of Chamnay Khan his main aim for joining this group was not his love for Islam but his love for extra money and wield control over others which he did. It would seem that most if not all of the supporters of this group were un-employed youth who received a daily allowance of Rs. 200 per day for carrying out various tasks including public intimidation and providing security services to their leaders.
    The loss of Swat is a case study in Classic mistakes which offers few lessons both for the Pakistani government and the world at large. The first lesson which one can learn from this is that government must never exploit people and make them fight for their own selfish design. Worse still is to dump them once their utility is lost. The same happened in Afghanistan and Pakistan where people who were hand in glove with US and Pakistani forces and fighting along side them turned their guns on them. There was no strategy on rehabilitating the Jihadis and it was natural that they would create troubles for everyone. Effective post Afghan war planning would have saved everyone the endless long war which is now being fought. Another valuable lesson from Swat is that no one including the government should misuse or allow the religion to be misused. The world can learn from Malaysia which also being a Muslim country have effectively succeeding in avoiding misusing religion by vested groups. Religious freedom should not be confused with religious manipulation the second being used as a guise to achieve one’s selfish designs. Another important lesson which can be learned from the Swat is that the government must also empower the moderate forces and organize them to prevail over extremist movements. If needed committees at village and other levels must be formed with financial and armed support from the government to protect themselves from extremist and fanatic ideologues. Finally and probably the most potent solution to identical problems will be the provision of speedy and cheap justice, economic, and employment opportunities as well as free education and heath services. It is good that Swat has already been regained but to retain it we must not repeat the mistakes and take the measures prescribed.
    Dr Adalat Khan is an international columnist who is based in Malaysia and can be reached at dradalat@gmail.com

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