Fail­ure of the war

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL -

De­lib­er­at­ing on Pak­istani Tal­iban ne­go­ti­a­tions with­out con­sult­ing women who are more than half the pop­u­la­tion is not just ex­clu­sion­ary but crim­i­nal ne­glect, since they are di­rectly an ag­grieved party. This is the cue for rou­tine re­sponses point­ing out that the women of Swat sup­ported the Tal­iban’s rise to power. But tak­ing that at face value is akin to a mod­ern-day di­ag­no­sis of drapeto­ma­nia.

Drapeto­ma­nia was a men­tal ill­ness di­ag­nosed by Amer­i­can physi­cian Sa­muel Cartwright in the mid-19th cen­tury, af­fect­ing only black slaves. The chief symp­tom of the disease was de­scribed as the un­con­trol­lable urge to run away, block­ing off the ex­ploita­tive con­text in which the trend emerged. Across Swat, women say Fa­zlul­lah of­fered them the op­por­tu­nity to be­come ac­tors shap­ing their en­vi­ron­ment. His ear­lier sermons in­sisted women were stake­hold­ers who would play an im­por­tant role in cre­at­ing an Is­lamic so­ci­ety that would be a con­duit for jus­tice and rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Once the Tal­iban started tor­ture and be­head­ings, women were ter­rorised. The Tal­iban’s vi­o­lence against women and their misog­y­nist ide­ol­ogy are well-known if not well-doc­u­mented. In­stead of a drapetomanic pathol­o­gis­ing of sup­port for the Tal­iban, we need to de­con­struct it to see what it rep­re­sented. For women in Swat, it was the prom­ise of in­clu­sion.

In­sur­gents ev­ery­where tar­get the state and its in­sti­tu­tions, but the Tal­iban have openly taken re­spon­si­bil­ity for bomb blasts and sui­cide at­tacks lead­ing to mass ca­su­al­ties among or­di­nary civil­ians in mar­kets and mosques across the coun­try. The cur­rent head­count of ter­ror­ism vic­tims in Pak­istan is es­ti­mated to be be­tween 45,000 to 50,000 peo­ple. Each has a story of un­speak­able an­guish. And now we want to ne­go­ti­ate with the per­pe­tra­tors. On what?

Noth­ing in Pak­istan is black and white. The ANP con­tra­dic­tions — of the party with the high­est num­ber of the Tal­iban’s vic­tims propos­ing peace talks with them — read in con­text war­rant some sym­pa­thy. In pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions, peo­ple across Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa state their firm be­lief that the army both col­ludes with and pro­tects as well as at­tacks the Tal­iban based on its cal­cu­lus of ex­pe­di­ence, and had it wanted it could have fin­ished off the mil­i­tants in the decade since the ‘war on ter­ror’ be­gan.

Peo­ple lace this nar­ra­tive with spe­cific ex­am­ples, such as the pitched bat­tle Pir Samiullah fought against the Tal­iban in Matta. He had raised a force of 500 peo­ple af­ter prom­ises of state sup­port but when he needed backup dur­ing five days of con­tin­ued as­sault, of­fi­cial as­sis­tance never came. Not only were his sup­port­ers mas­sa­cred, his dead body was ex­humed and hung from a tree for four days and his vil­lage burned down. There are numer­ous such ac­counts of tribal lashkars and aman jir­gas promised state pro­tec­tion and then aban­doned. If there is truth in the claim of the se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus’ dou­ble game, then it leaves the ANP in the un­ten­able po­si­tion of the front­line party with cadres rou­tinely as­sas­si­nated in a war it can­not win with­out state sup­port, which it doubts it has, hence its push for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. If such claims are not true, then be­yond Swat, the se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus has not done any­thing to war­rant peo­ple’s con­fi­dence.

Pub­lic crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion of Tal­iban ac­cused of bru­tal­i­ties would go far in restor-

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.