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Thursday, 25 December 2008

Barbarism in Swat

By Khurshid Khan

SWAT’S Sangota Public School was blown to smithereens on Oct 7, 2008 — a dark day in the history of the area.

This convent school was established in 1964 by Miangul Jahanzeb, popularly known as Wali sahib, the last ruler of Swat who not only donated land for the school but also provided generous financial aid for its construction and operations. It was renowned for its quality of education in the entire Malakand region.

This epitome of architectural perfection was situated in a beautiful and enchanting location on the left bank of the meandering and bounteous Swat river, spreading the light of education. Most of the teachers were Irish nuns who had devoted their lives to educating Swat’s children. They arrived in the bloom of their youth and returned in the autumn of their lives. They also educated the young girls in neighbouring villages and hamlets, without any thought of financial gains, teaching them the same courses as were being taught in the school in the morning.

A co-education system was in place until the 1990s but after the establishment of Excelsior College, the boys were shifted there and from then onwards only girls were admitted to this prestigious school. The school was closed on the DCO Swat’s orders because of the turbulence and volatile atmosphere in Swat much against the wishes of the students’ parents. The school administration decided to vacate the premises and as soon as it was vacated, it was razed to the ground by militants the next day, as was the premises of Excelsior College.

The first school in Swat was established in 1922 by Miangul Abdul Wadood. Both boys and girls were educated here until the primary level. It was not until 1926 when a separate school was established for girls. His successor Miangul Jehanzeb established a network of schools and colleges in the whole of Swat, Buner, Shanglapar and Indus-Kohistan which were then a part of the Swat state.

Education was not only encouraged but free. Scholarships were awarded and students were sent to western countries for higher education. Those who completed their education were given attractive employment. Thanks to these incentives, people swarmed to Swat for education. Students from Dir, Chitral, Malakand, Charsadda, Mardan, Swabi and other parts of the country turned to Swat for education.

After the merger of Swat state in 1969, several other schools and colleges in the public sector were opened, especially girls’ schools and colleges. Private schools also emerged. Gradually, Swat came to be regarded as a centre of learning by adjoining districts. But this evolution of education was strangulated by the militants in 2007 and 2008. Swat is now being pushed back to the pre-1922 period. Even then there were no militants who destroyed their own people.

Adjoining districts Shangla, Buner and Dir have suffered equally adverse effects. The people of these areas sent their children to Swat for education but now they are compelled to send their children to Peshawar, even to Punjab, where expenses are comparatively high.

Meanwhile, back to the Sangota Public School. The religious extremists and rival private schools generated negative propaganda against it but parents were not taken in by these rumours and continued to send their children to school there. They knew that not a single student had been converted to Christianity.

The people of the nearby villages looted the furniture, libraries, computers and other precious accessories of Sangota Public School and Excelsior College after their destruction declaring it war booty. The vandalism and looting continued all day. Security forces stationed in the overlooking mountains watched this humiliating process but still remained silent and unmoved. Eyewitnesses say that even if the forces had fired in the air, the looting would have stopped.

Taliban spokesperson Muslim Khan in a BBC interview alleged that the school had been following a co-educational system and was also preaching Christianity. Therefore, its signs had to be obliterated. But what about the scores of other schools where there was no linkage whatsoever with co-education or Christianity? Why were these demolished?

There may be two hidden motives, i.e. to discourage education and increase poverty in Swat. Ignorance and poverty breed extremism and this is actually happening in Swat. Unemployment is on the rise. People are drawn towards militancy because they are given a handsome remuneration for becoming one of the Taliban. State-of-the-art weapons, handsome salaries and the assurance of paradise in the hereafter are some of the temptations that lure the youth.

These young men are the major source of strength and power for militant leaders. Through them militants have succeeded in banishing the influential people of Swat and have compelled political leaders to kneel before them. Police do not dare to patrol the areas and the army is very cautious in its movements and operations here.

The barbaric Huns destroyed the Gandhara civilisation in the 5th century AD and burnt to ashes educational institutions including the university at Taxila. Today, all the laboriously constructed educational institutions are once again the victims of vandalism. Precious cultural antiquities are being destroyed. These barbaric activities are certainly the handiwork of a strange and peculiar mindset.

It is shocking and surprising that as schools and colleges in Swat are being levelled to the ground one after the other, the people do not protest and the government is averse to taking serious action. Parliamentarians are also silent spectators. Their tongues are tied and their hands fastened.

The process of Talibanisation is progressing in Swat. There are many simple-headed people there who either openly or secretly support the movement, all in ignorance and clearing the ground for it. The valley is fertile and all the ingredients of building and maintaining a civilisation are there in abundance. In spite of possessing all these valuable resources, if we still keep silent, then barbarism will certainly replace civilisation in the valley.

One hopes that the demolition of educational institutions, especially of girls’ schools, does not mean that the people of Swat will stop educating their children. After all, the wheel of time is not meant to reverse its direction; it must move forward. (Dawn, 25 Dec 2008)


Umar Zaman said...

this is by far the best, most balanced blog on Pakistani politics I have seen so far. do carry on the good work, friends.

Anonymous said...

Foreign elements are involved in the acts of recent terrorism and suicide attacks in the country and were actively supported by corrupt ruling mafia backed by imperialist neo-cons. Indian spies and Intelligence agencies are also exploiting the situation in the garb of Taliban, and damaging the country on behalf of Israel/US/India nexus. Real and genuine Taliban feel grief and sorrow over the death of common Muslims. Generally speaking, there are three types of Taliban in Federally Administrative Tribal Areas.
First type of Taliban are those resisting US imperialist agendas and want to expel US from Afghanistan. These Taliban though do not have any agenda about Pakistan. The second type, are the local Taliban, they want to implement Islamic system and Shariah in their own areas. These elements are active in one form or other form in Tribal area especially Swat before 9/11 and even before Soviet Afghan War. Swat was a small independent state which opted for Pakistan, at the time of partition, on guarantee of independent state from Mr. Jinnah. The state was governed by Shariah law. Swat state laws and governance was a natural, efficient and effective law which suited local tradition and Pathan culture. Justice was quick, simple and cheap. The British justice system practiced in Pakistan is based colonial state structure. It has long and unending proceedings, spread over years and even then there is no guarantee that the justice would be provided to the victim, due to culture of false witnesses, clever/fake lawyers and obliging judges. The Pashtuns were basically nomads and during 18th they started living in small villages. If someone from their family is offended by someone and they do not have remedy for that injustice, the family remains under social pressure/stress and feel a great shame. Under the British system, they see the oppressor and his relatives everywhere in the village and feel ashamed for not having natural remedy.
Normally it is considered that Taliban are remnants of Soviet Afghan Mujahadeen. However Shariah demand and Taliban movement date back to Bhutto regime in seventies when Swat state was annexed to Pakistan contrary to Jinnah commitment to Wal-e-Swat. Prior to that, Swat state was very developed till 70s and had very efficient and effective local administration, Qazi courts and Police System under patronage of Wali-e-Swat based on local tradition and mostly Shariah laws. Earlier Qazi Courts, local administration and police was replaced by existing corrupt Pakistani Police, inefficient/ineffective civil bureaucracy (DCs/ACs) and normal court system, which are colonial legacies and skewed state structure designed for colonial brute regimes. Their movement was hijacked/exploited by Zia-ul-Haq on his false promises of Shariah based Government for his eleven year draconian rule on US backing. Similarly many other uprising for change (namely labor and student movement) against colonial state structure and establishment were crushed and exploited by the agents of status-qou and colonial remnants in Pakistan ruling establishment.
The third group of Taliban are those who formed an organized group to achieve their vested criminal interests mainly drug trade on backing of local totalitarian ruling elite, various foreign Intelligence agencies and imperialist neo-cons. Their objectives are loot/plunder masses for their own kitty, while at the same time they will defame/malign and make controversial the cause/name of Taliban who are resisting imperialist neo-cons in Afghanistan and colonial remnants in Pakistan. They use various tools of terror, violence and disinformation. These elements have nothing to do with Islam or Taliban and they are simply using the name of Taliban. US and India trained them in Khurasan and Hirat provinces of Afghanistan. These trained elements were injected into tribal areas of Pakistan in order to spread chaos and crisis. Chaos and crisis is one of the reason due to which President Musharraf justified his clinging to Power. These foreign elements in the garb of Taliban are involved in the acts of terrorism in different cities of Pakistan like Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. Their violence and chaos justifies excessive use of fire power by state agencies for various incidents like Red mosque, Nov-03 and May-12. Their acts of violence also hijack various peace initiates, therefore whenever there will be a peace talks, either US will directly attack or some suicide bomber will hit inside Pakistan on the name of Taliban or Pakistani Ambassador issue will pop out.
Generally speaking real Taliban are crude and have various short coming, however misdoings of Taliban have been blown out of proportion by imperialist western backed media. But over all they were much better than present day US/West Puppets in Afghanistan and similar other prostitute states/governments ruled by puppets of the West/US. Taliban were from the people and they were answerable to people. Their roots were in the people of that area, therefore there could stand up against alone super power of world, whereas Pakistan being a nuclear state has been subjugated by US for last eight years. Their police system, justice, law/order systems were simple, straight forward and it was delivering to the common. It is very ironic that media and academics become so much idealistic when they deal with Taliban? Like any other system Taliban also had short comings. However normal Pakistan Police, courts and law order system is totally corrupt, highly inefficient and ineffective. Media and academic will tolerate 1001 errors in present skewed setups based on colonial draconian legacy and justify present setup full of corruption by corruption for corruption. Present setup is 90 % corrupt name any institution, any walk of life.
Just like present setup Taliban had some shortcoming and they can rectify that if they are guided and given time. Taliban are much better if compared with present corrupt Police, Bureaucrats, Executives and Courts of Pakistan. Yes at some points Taliban were wrong and they need to be rectified and criticized. After past 50 years one has to admit that present colonial state structure is incapable of rectification. We can tolerate/justify 50 years wrong doings of one system but can’t tolerate indigenous effort for nation building due to their stupidity.

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Anonymous said...

In search of Pathan Tribal Identity

Skirmish of Wazir/Mehsud/Burki Tribes against British Army in enlightened and civilized colonial era Tribes were mostly led by Faqir Appi, who was Wazir. Syeds (Mullahs) in Wana were instrumental for wheeling/dealing and keeping Wazirs, Mehsudes, and Burkis united, intact and motivated against British. An ordinary Pathans has to consider himself the best therefore he would not allow anyone else to lead him even if he is Pathan. Though Pathan does not have Piri/Murdi or Feudalisms like rest of Indo-Pak particularly Sindh/Punjab because they were never Part/Parcel of enlightened and civilized British Royal India. Nonetheless they respect/regard only Syeds after themselves in the whole universe.
Few clans from Syeds, Wazir, Burkis and Mehsud, being weak hearted could not face the heat, so therefore quietly came down and opted for enjoying the peace and cool life in adjoining area of Bannu, DI Khan, Lucky Marvat and Mianwali. These fleeing clans were welcomed by British. Presently mostly from these fleeing clans are well settled and have average education and some power in Pakistan. Those in hill always look down and still taunt their cousins for their forefathers rent seeking behavior. As a return those fleeing clans of Wazir, Mehsud and Syeds like rest of Pakistanis (especially Husain Haqani) consider those in hills backward, evil, uncultured, uncivilized, terrorist and considers themselves enlighten, modern and forward looking.
Those freedom living tribes are still bearing US/Western Defacto-Colonialism with help of local Establishment. These tribes does not understand that resistance against might, struggle for truth is obsolete as it does not pay any more in this land of pure cartels. By the way, what good Faqir Eppi did by fighting against our colonial masters if compared with collaborators and middle men who still rule and control our fate, I mean Establishment. Generally it is considered that it is feudal class who collaborated with Colonials for exploitation/deprivation and they are main beneficiaries of that era till today. There is true to some extent, however it is a smoke screen to cover various other cartels, mafias and other brute forms of feudalism. Feudalism is rampant in every walk of life of Pakistan. Do not you think a DCO till recently lived/acted like a royal feudal? What about SP, he seems to be Generation Next Feudal. Big dirty fishes of Pakistan i.e. 50-60 Business mafias/cartels controlling II Chundrigar Road and Mall Roads (mostly beneficiaries/ blue eyed of East India Company) are also feudal in nature. As a simple example just Google the reason for vast fortune of Agha Khan. So called poor class political parties like MQM also rely on feudal violent tools for exploitation and deprivation. Do not you think well-heeled acolytes university professors are not feudals. Go and see their dirty politics and leg pulling which they do for petty gains. I have never been impressed by Deeni Madrasha/Mullah but what about clerk cloning Macaulay’s plants (Western Universities/College) in name of education, enlightenment and progress. I leave rest all such white collars feudal to your imagination in every sphere of life.
Most of the tribal clans coming down to settled area were naïve and not smart, and intelligent like Saifullah Family fore fathers. Saifullah father Faizullah was shepherd, however he sided with Colonial Royal Army against Waziri/Mehsud/Burki tribes in Wana/Meran Shah. Saifullah Marvat and his father was first Muslim League in Lucky Marvat area since 1930s. Aslam Khatak (Brrother in-law of Saifullah) was also among first Muslim League in adjacent Karak District since 1930. He along with Chaudery Rahmat Ali while in Cambridge on British Royal Scholarship. They coined the name of Pakistan. Aslam Khatak and his family main services for British Royal Army were against Ajab Khan Afridi (Dara Adam Khel). Gen Ali Quli Khan (Musharaf competitor for CAS back in 1997) is nephew of Aslam Khatak and one of his brother in law was Governor. Saifullah family share a vast fortune of more than 25 concerns like Lucky Cement, Mob link, General Tires, Nissan Ghandraha etc. It is such irony that most of the Army/Air Force units which are fighting now in Meran Shah, Wana and other tribal areas have also fought with same tribes/clans till 1947. Another big irony India is fighting in held Kashmir for last 30 years and how many times they have used Jet Fighters for bombing Kashmiris. Azad Kashmir held today by Pakistan was not liberated by Pak Army and Air force rather liberated by same clans/tribes who are sometimes labeled as Taliban, uncivilized, dirty Naswar eating Pathans, and according to Nadeem Paracha (The Dawn Writer/Aaj TV anchor) a pseudo-intellectual think that in north/tribal area no woman live and only men/goats live.
Some time I feel crippled when I think about my Identity. When I am unable to read my mother language and unable to related to my profound history which has been made irrelevant and meager. I can hear this history in local songs and it is off course trouble some for local establishment (various economic/political/feudal/bureaucratic cartels controlling II Chundrigar Road, Mall Roads and Constitution avenue) but also international establishment (Jews/Zionist/US/UK). Though we will not find any consensus on the definition/causes of terrorism but there is 101 % agreement on ethnic cleansing of all those who in one way or other resisted colonial five/six decades ago or still think of resisting neo-colonialism or their imposed local cartels of business/politics/bureaucracy/identity. In Pakistan, in every walk of life those people are in control, whose forefathers in one or other way helped British or East India Compnay. Rest all are masses, they does not count anywhere. While for last fifty we are crushing those people who were/are against local and international establishment or show any such inclinations.
In defacto-colonial society like Pakistan most of roles are supposed to be clerk type, which are boring, insignificant and monotonous. These roles/opportunities are never impressive. With passage of time procedures policies and work practices have become obsolete, are against simple rational and mostly based on mistrust, difficult to extent where pity/ordinary jobs are accomplished with huge wastage of time, money, manpower and resources. The biggest motivation in life is work and trust, however most of the time, our productive work pace is dead slow and unrealistic. Pakistan was supposed to continue inherited colonial state structure. Therefore middle/lower classes in general and poor most in particular are exploited and deprived at multiple levels on pretext of various merits, standards, ethics and unseen Berlin walls erected by our colonial masters. Our pre-1947 pseudo freedom fighters and so called god fathers did not have vision, capacity or planning for these issues. Muslim league was Sarkari League from the first day of its origin. The main objective was to create faithfulness among Indopak Muslim for British Royal Establishment. Similarly ANP and Congress at that time were preaching non-violence meaning that you do not fight against British Raaj. We were/are victim of the LAW OF NECESSITY even before our birth. This so called politics/democracy/voting is for fooling the Masses. It does not implies that Gen Mush, Zia, Ayub are better than Zardari, Nawaz, BB and other stuff. They all are pawns among thousands pawns controlling whole Muslim world for the their Western Masters.
Unquestioned and unconditioned subordination is expected in every walk of life Due to same colonial traditions. While all corrupts (various economic/political/feudal/bureaucratic cartels controlling II Chundrigar Road, Mall Roads Lhr/R-Pindi/Pesh/Queta and Constitution Avenue) will enjoy, control and set the rules of games. They will exploit masses in name of democracy, identity, merit, logic and history. Crippled honest masses will be expected to be a tiger, who will able to bear rotten system for whole life, dodge the corrupts and avoid all temptation against all natural forces. The only way to survive is absolute conformist behavior, and any deviation/difference on any issue/crisis/identity is not tolerated. Most of our state rules/laws/ traditions/norms are decades old and date back to colonial era therefore mostly irrelevant and inapplicable. As a result middle and lower classes in general and poor most in particular are manipulated according to corrupts (various economic/political/feudal/bureaucratic cartels controlling II Chundrigar Road, Mall Roads Lhr/R-Pindi/Pesh/ Queta and Constitution Avenue) politics, whims, goals, personal agenda and likes/dislikes. Wrong practices are justified by these corrupts by other wrong practices. Our colonial social set up expect/support/ promote only conformist roles. Role redesign opportunities or change in such colonial societies like Pakistan are limited by design. The narrow range and depth of social roles does not have any space for innovation or change. For past 60 years, it is not coincidences or masses errors that every time we have laid flat in front of US or West.
Shahzeb Khan English Lecture in GC University in one of his article writes about the same in DAWN that “Few of us know that tens of thousands of British officials were denied reappointment in their home country once India and Pakistan won independence in 1947. They were not terminated but were disallowed to work because they were considered unfit to work in a free and democratic country. The context of colonisation influenced working habits of these officials while they were in India. These officials considered themselves part of the metropolis and that they were there only to govern the subjects of the colony. This notion was accompanied with a set of ‘skills’ which these officials were supposed to internalise. After they arrived in India, they were indoctrinated with the ideas of 'superiority' and ‘inferiority’ of Indians they were supposed to govern. “
Any rational and thinking animal in such colonial society, will consider honest/sincere growth/existence in Pakistan, out of context, irrelevant and wasteful not only for honest/sincere and his family but Pakistan also does not need such people. Only Idiots and super idiots thrive, who are well connected and fattest. If any honest continue to live in Pakistan as honest/sincere, he lead boring, static, hypocritical life and this feeling constantly pinches him like wearing a shoe of small size than his foot. On other hand, if he leaves for abroad, he start from zero and have to work really hard for his existence some where else as second grade citizen without any noble IDENTITY. At this juncture in our national life, we Pakistani have to redefine our original identity based in Islam and Land (Punjabi/ Sindhi/Balochi/Pashtoo), which will burgeon our potentials and endow our faculties for more exacting. We have to shed our colonial identity (insecure and fragile) imposed on us. We should undertake a fresh challenge, an IDENTITY -altering venture that allow us to paint the happenings and experiences of our existence and our dreams on a broader canvass. I rest our IDENTITY dilemma for your kind comments, expert advice and candid opinion. I can bear facts without sugar coating.

Thank you and best regards.
FM Shah

“We cannot understand the role of the people in history unless we also understand the historical illusions which misrepresent history in order to serve the interests of privileged classes. Thus culture must be studied as a weapon in the struggle of classes.”

John Howard Lawson, The Hidden Heritage, 1950

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