Cease fire in Swat. Capitulation to Islamist extremism


Taliban insurgents in the troubled north-western Swat valley of Pakistan have announced an indefinite ceasefire.

The announcement follows a deal struck last week between a radical cleric and North West Frontier Province Government that brings Sharia law in return for an end to the insurgency.

The Taliban have been assessing that deal and Tuesday’s move followed a meeting held by the group’s leader in the region, Maulana Fazlullah.

Many people living in Swat are happy to hear the news of cease fire.
“I am so happy. I am excited. This will bring peace to my village.” This was the response of a resident.
Why they were happy?
Thousands of people have fled and hundreds of schools have been destroyed in Swat since a Taliban insurgency began in 2007. The people of Swat have long been caught in the crossfire between the army and the Taliban. More than 1,000 civilians have died in shelling by the army or from beheadings sanctioned by the Taliban. Thousands more have been displaced.
The Taliban now control the entire countryside of Swat, limiting army control to parts of the valley’s capital, Mingora.
Sharia law or not people were so much terrorised by the violence that they now want peace some how.

“They [the Taliban] have made commitment that they will observe a permanent ceasefire and we’ll do the same,” Mr Javed, the commissioner of Malakand.
He said that the army would scale back its operations in the valley and asked residents who left Swat because of the fighting to return home.
Schools for boys would reopen, although it is still not clear whether the Taliban will allow re-opening of girl’s schools.
The Taliban has agreed to dismantle their check posts,but not to lay down their arms.

In about 20 months or so, we have had 187 of our schools bombed out, of which 121 are girls’ schools,” says Sher Afzal Khan, the district head of the education department of Swat.

Another 86 schools cannot be used because they are camps for the army or the Taliban, or they are in combat zones where children and staff cannot go, he says.

“Nearly 60,000 students have been affected,” says Mr Khan.

Institutions of higher learning are no exception.

“Three months ago, the Taliban banned male medical students from attending practical lessons in the gynaecology ward and the labour room,” says a professor at Mingora’s Swat Medical College.

Soon afterwards, the Taliban started sending representatives to keep a watch at the college hospital to ensure the ban was not being violated.

“We had to shift gynaecology classes to Mardan (another district in the north-west). There is now a proposal to shift the entire college to Mardan, along with its staff and equipment,” the professor says.

This is a cowardly capitulation to Islamist extremists by the Civilian Government and Political Parties of Pakistan.

The deal was struck after the military failed to defeat the militants. The fear created by the Taliban in general public resulted in the deal getting support even from secular politicians.

Previous deals with Islamists had only resulted in strengthening and legitimising the militants.

It is said that al-Qaeeda and Afghan Taliban leadership are shifting to Swat thinking it will be more safer than other areas because it is farther away from Afghan border. From here they can carry out the larger aim of Talibanising whole of Pakistan.Islamabad is only a 100 miles from Swat.

There is concern that this peace deal will also not last, with some analysts believing the Taliban want to control territory, not just amend the legal system.

When will the Government and the political parties in Pakistan realise that negotiating with Islamist extremists will undermine the shaky democratic structure of their polity?
Photos from BBC News website
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6 thoughts on “Cease fire in Swat. Capitulation to Islamist extremism

  1. I’m sure some people in Pakistan blame their army’s inability to control Swat on India – if only India had let go of Kashmir, their armed forces would not have been spread so thin…This Taliban situation wouldn’t have arisen…

  2. Bones, I do not think the failure of Pakistan army was due to lack of personal or resources. The failure was due to lack of will. Mullah-Army nexus nurtured and developed by the top brass of Pak army from the time of Zia ul Haq is the biggest curse of Pakistan.

  3. I think this will affect us in India also. Any victory of violence and fear gives courage to others with similar intents. But I also feel so sad for the people there, what kind of life is this? And shame on Pakistani government to have given up like this.

  4. Yes it will affect India. But ironically Pakistan’s internal problems on the western border seems to have good effect on Kashmir.Pakistan is I feel less keen to interfere in Kashmir now.The separatists there are now working more on their own.

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