Challenging Taliban Rule in Swat
The News, April 14, 2009
By Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: In a show of rare defiance, PML-N MNA Ayaz Amir stood up to the otherwise compliant members of his own and other parties in the National Assembly on Monday, probably in the light of open threats by Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) leaders to launch attacks on those who would dare to defy the deal. The MQM also showed some spine.
Ayaz Amir, a liberal intellectual and columnist, was the only parliamentarian to shout, “This agreement was signed under the shadow of guns and most importantly the guns of Taliban had turned out to be more powerful than the guns of our Pakistan Army.”
It was crystal clear that the serious threats of Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan, carried by all the morning newspapers on their front pages, were very much on the minds of all the scared looking parliamentarians. So except for those in favour of the deal, no one from the Punjab or Sindh spoke out.
None of them asked any tough questions from a visibly browbeaten Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who too was seen content with the fast falling writ of the state and his government, as many believed that a new state within the state had been created.
But, Ayaz Amir shined when he took a clear line during the debate, which was opposed to that of Nisar Ali Khan, his party leader in the House. Mr Amir did not have any doubt in his mind that this deal with Taliban would not work when he said: “We should not kid with ourselves.”
The desperate pleas of a genuinely worried Ayaz were, however, of no use, as his parliamentary leader Nisar Ali Khan had already given up in the face of mounting pressure from the supporters of the deal with the Taliban in the Parliament.
That was why, for obvious reasons, Ayaz Amir had little room left to say something more to condemn this deal after Nisar Ali Khan decided to back it. But, even then, left alone from all corners, Ayaz Amir was seen doing his best to criticise those powerful elements who were behind the deal to hand over Swat to the Taliban, which he believed was taken on gun point as Pakistan Army could not match the guns of the militants, or it did not want to.
Without naming Chaudhry Nisar Ali, Ayaz Amir clearly snubbed him, as he raised several valid objections which otherwise should have been raised by his party leader in the house. Only two sane voices were heard in the house of 342. But the most shocking part of these proceedings was that not a single woman parliamentarian stood up to protest the sweeping laws which would greatly affect the women of Swat.
Ayaz recalled the history of Pakistan and said whenever such attempts were made to Islamise the society, they had backfired. He wondered how could we stop the Taliban from controlling the neighboring areas of Swat and gave the example of Buner. He did not have any doubt that the army had failed to take control of the situation and the politicians were now acting from a weaker position after having left with no option.
For complete article click here
A bad precedent, says Farooq Sattar - The News
Taliban consolidating grip in Buner - Daily Times