The Fallacies of Mainstreaming ‘Jihad’
By Ayesha Jalal, Dawn, 14 Feb, 2009
Ayesha Jalal speculates on the challenges which face this country in future years as part of Dawn.com's launch special 'Flash Forward Pakistan: Where do we go from here?'
Not for the first time in its short and eventful history, Pakistan stands poised to make the proverbial descent into anarchy or, if wiser counsels prevail, settle down to being the normal place so many of its citizens and well wishers abroad would like it to be.
As on many occasions in the recent past, Pakistanis are divided and confused about how to avert disaster without compromising on what they value as emblems of their national sovereignty and Islamic identity. Whether reading newspapers or watching any of the newly set up television channels, it is impossible to avoid the sinking feeling that comes from a realization of an ever-widening gulf between ground realities and the sharply varied perceptions of them among Pakistanis. Being in denial about the threat posed by the expanding web of militancy gripping the northwest of the country is a relatively minor problem compared to the naïveté expressed in some newspaper columns and television talk shows about settling matters with the militants through political dialogue and accommodation.
It is true that purely military solutions never work and have to be supplemented by political approaches in order to resolve intractable conflicts that have got out of hand. Yet, history is replete with evidence that there can never be lasting peace unless all sides in a dispute acknowledge some sort of constituted authority and agree to work within its legal parameters. However well-meaning, suggestions by certain ‘experts’ in Pakistan to bring the bands of armed men galvanized around the likes of Maulana Fazlullah in Swat and Beitullah Masud in South Waziristan into the political fold, are ultimately wrong headed.
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