The world is very concerned about the horrendous deal in Swat. We must take heed now. This is what Sydney Morning Herald wrote:
Pakistan surrenders to local barbarity
THE Pakistan Parliament’s surrender to Islamist thugs in the Swat Valley this week represents a disturbing development for the stability and standing of a nation which claims to be fighting Islamist terrorism. Swat was once a tourist Mecca where a moderate form of Islam was followed. But a Taliban insurgency, and the deal done between local militants and the Government in Islamabad this week means the valley and entire Malakand Province, some 200 kilometres from the capital, will be subjected to Taliban-style Sharia law, with its unique mixture of barbarity and hypocrisy. Women will be doomed to life as second-class citizens. Amputations and floggings – punishments already used by Islamist vigilantes – will become official policy, all with the unanimous approval of the national Parliament.
Pakistan’s founder, the late Mohammed Ali Jinnah, a liberal lawyer who liked his whisky, must be turning in his mazar in Karachi. Jinnah believed in the right of self-determination for the Muslims of the subcontinent. But he would have been appalled by the ascendancy of the mullahs and their unlettered henchmen. Yet the state Jinnah founded seems to have no stomach for the fight when it comes to defending his values, and the values of tolerance and democracy. Instead, it appears the country is to be surrendered piecemeal to terrorists. Videos showing women being lashed and young boys sawing the heads off live humans will circulate more widely, poisoning the minds of a new generation.
In 1971, the idea that Islam could unite the Muslims of South Asia in a single nation fell apart when Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan. But instead of getting the message, the country’s politically dominant army, led by the dictator General Muhammad Zia Ul-Haq, banned alcohol, had Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto executed, embarked on a nuclear weapons program, and raised an international legion of Islamist radicals to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The capitulation in Swat revives the unwelcome memories of Zia’s jihadi state.
Back then, the West backed Zia for his support in the Cold War against communism, and even today there are those who see submission to Islamabad’s Islamist fantasies as a necessary price in the wider struggle against terrorism. The Obama Administration and our own Government continue to urge Islamabad to be less ambiguous in its commitment to that struggle. The deal in Swat raises more questions about where Pakistan really stands, and consigns more Pakistanis to the feckless rule of the Taliban.