Saturday, April 18, 2009

The grand capitulation in Swat...and Islamabad?

Legal eye: The grand capitulation
The News, April 18, 2009
Babar Sattar

The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad. He is a Rhodes scholar and has an LL.M from Harvard Law School

It is hard to conceive an edict more shameful and frightening than Nizam-e-Adl Regulation 2009. In reviling its detractors and labeling them conspirators, the NWFP government and the federal government are now insolently marketing this deal with the devil as a sustainable basis for peace in Swat. The underlying argument in support of this deal being propounded by its advocates is that the state of Pakistan and the provincial and federal government were at the mercy of Sufi Mohammad, Fazalullah and their fellow Swati Taliban to establish order in the area. Given that surrender before these agents of violence was the only available option to save the lives of the citizens of Swat, this vile deal was unavoidable.

If it is true that the unequivocal resolve of the heads of all state institutions and the use of all state instruments and resources available to the government and the armed forces could not enforce the writ of the state in Taliban-held territory, there was probably no other option. Liberty, after all, would mean little to the dead. But in analysing the Swat deal, why must we make this binary choice between life and other fundamental rights? How come our ruling elites threw in the towel so expeditiously and in such pusillanimous manner? Why is the fundamental premise regarding lack of options in Swat not being challenged? What happened to the seventh-largest army in the world that, as we are repeatedly reminded, is capable of thwarting all external and internal security challenges confronting the nation?

Where is civil law-enforcement infrastructure that is meant to enforce rule of law and protect citizens from criminals who try to appropriate their lives, liberty and property? What happened to the ANP and PPP's ideology of tolerance, liberal political philosophy, and commitment to constitutional democracy and rule of law? And what about the rest of the parties in the Parliament – especially the PML-N – that joined hands with the ANP and the PPP to barter a part of the territory of Pakistan to avoid being branded "murtid" by Muslim Khan and his ilk, or because they neither have the inclination nor the ability to address the internal serious challenges confronting our nation?

Should we simply accept the replacement of anarchy in Swat by tyranny because the Swat deal has been inked by products of our democratic process or because the deal has been struck in the name of Sharia and criticising it would attract accusations of blasphemy from obscurantists who mistake themselves for divinely-ordained vanguards of our religion? Once you concede, as the ANP government has repeatedly done, that the deal that has produced the Adl Regulation is a product of necessity not choice, as there was no other way to curb the violence being perpetrated by the Taliban in Swat, a formal legalistic review of the merits of the law itself becomes immaterial.

For complete article, click here

MPs who opposed Nizam-e-Adl are no longer Muslims: Sufi - DT
Red Mosque cleric's militant message - BBC

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