No class war in Swat

No class war in Swat
The News, December 18, 2008
Farhat Taj

In his article, "Behind the Crisis in Swat" (The News, Nov 27), Sartaj Khan argues that the current religious militancy raging in Swat is a class war. He writes: 'the militants are targeting the khans regardless of their political affiliations and have given their fight a class dimension."

The fact is that the Islamist militants are targeting those khans who are politically active and influential. These are the khans who can be a hurdle in the way of the savage mediaeval order interpreted as Islam that the local and foreign jihadis want to impose on Swat and other areas of the NWFP and on FATA. Khans who are not politically active, keep their eyes closed to the brutalities of the jihadis and keep their mouths shut about them are not targeted. If it were a class war, every khan, regardless of his political leanings, would have been a "legitimate" target. Moreover, the jihadis are also targeting the poor political workers of political parties, especially the ANP, not because they are khans but because they have nationalistic and secular credentials.

In Swat and other Pakhtun areas the Taliban and Al Qaeda have happily joined hands with those hardened criminals who share the "benefits" of their robbery, murders and kidnappings with Taliban-Al Qaeda gangs. Leaders of a genuine class war would think many times before striking any kind of alliance with criminals.

Schools indiscriminately bombed by the Taliban in Swat include those where the khans were not educating their children, who would go to elite schools in Swat, elsewhere in Pakistan and even in Western countries. The Taliban have bombed small village schools where children of poor people received education. How can this be justified in terms of class war?

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