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Monday, 23 March 2009

Talat Masood: Revisiting the Swat deal with the Taliban

Revisiting the Swat deal
Monday, March 23, 2009
Talat Masood

The Swat peace agreement, signed between the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM) and the ANP-led government of the NWFP, seems to be running in serious difficulties. Broadly, the agreement aims at imposing Sharia law in Swat and Malakand division.

Regrettably, the agreement was signed from a position of weakness. The army was hesitant to undertake another major counter-insurgency operation in Swat, when two earlier ones had failed to dislodge the militants from their hideouts. Moreover, the ANP having given a commitment that it would seek a negotiated settlement, and the army not in favour of a military operation, preferred a negotiated settlement.

The government and militant leader Sufi Mohammed offer different interpretations to the agreement, and differences have surfaced on the question of the formation of the courts. Sufi Mohammed, who refuses to accept the present panel of judges for presiding over Qazi courts, has announced the formation of Qazi courts, appointed his nominees as Qazis and is establishing appellate courts. In reality, the Taliban are aiming to transform the entire legal and administrative system and are not prepared to integrate the Sharia in the existing judicial and bureaucratic structure.

The TNSM in all probability will apply a harsher code of conduct. During the Wali’s times the ruler was in full control of the state and it was his appointed courts that were functioning. And the state’s administration was the implementing authority. Mullah Fazalullah is now calling the shots and the state has buckled in.

The Taliban of Swat have tasted power and will not be content with the adoption of Sharia. Mullah Fazalullah and his father-in-law of Sufi Mohammed practically rule Swat. The civil administration cannot go against their wishes and even the army at places has to move with their concurrence. No NGO’s are allowed to function without their approval. The close linkage between Mullah Fazalullah and Baithullah Mehsud is another source of serious concern.

Lack of clarity in policy formulation, poor coordination and weak resolve on the part of the provincial and federal governments and ambivalent attitude of the army in fighting counter-insurgency operations has emboldened the Taliban.

It is evident that the army that has proven itself in conventional wars has been less than effective while fighting insurgents in FATA and Swat. This phenomenon is not peculiar to Pakistan. Great Britain had won World War 1 with its allies but was forced to negotiate a treaty with IRA leaders.

The clamour for Sharia and the support of Sufi Mohammad and Mullah Fazalullah is essentially a demand for justice and good governance that the people have been denied. The fairness and quick implementation of justice was the key to its acceptability. Whether the same standard of fairness and quick disposal of justice prevalent in the 1960’s will be maintained by the newly appointed Sharia courts is questionable.

People are also deeply worried about their personal security. Many people in Swat have been compelled to provide at least one member of the family to the TNSM. In the current circumstances, when the government’s writ is virtually absent, ordinary people consider associating with Taliban a means of providing security to themselves and their families. In this way they associate with the system where maximum power resides.

If the Sharia demand increases in the entire NWFP and is ultimately adopted then there would be two legal systems in Pakistan. Sharia operating in the west and the Pakistan penal code in the east! It is possible that in future militant groups in Punjab may make similar demands in their area of influence.

On the other hand, if the government is able to use the peace deal to get a foothold in Swat and establish its writ by placing a strong administrative structure that can provide a reasonable level of governance then it could be justified. But the converse seems to be happening. Mullah Fazalullah by putting Sufi Mohammed in front has very cleverly outsmarted both the ANP government and the military and consolidated the Taliban position. The growing demands of Sufi Mohammed on the government are a clear indication of their motives. (The News)

The writer is a retired lieutenant-general. Email: talat@comsats.net.pk


Anonymous said...

Well Pakistan seems to be continuously at odds with itself and the rest of the world.

Munna said...

I don’t subscribe to Mr. Masood’s view that the army has proved itself in conventional wars. History has shown this to be patently false – as events in Bangladesh, Siachin and Kargil have shown.
In fact, where the army has actually excelled is in the field of persecuting and victimizing its own citizens. An apt analogy for Pakistan army would that be of a local bully and an alcoholic slacker (drunk on power) prone to domestic violence, who after being whipped on the streets, vents out his frustration on his hapless family.
And as for Mr. Masood’s assertion, that clamour for sharia is basically a vote against tardy justice is misleading. For one, there is enough evidence to suggest that demand for sharia in Swat has been mostly voiced by those lusting after power, backed up by powerful militia. The average Joe doesn’t have a choice but to murmur his assent, for the implication of not doing so are horrendous. If sharia were to be the panacea for tardy justice, why only Swat, the whole country should have been up in arms.

Aamir Mughal said...

In fact, where the army has actually excelled is in the field of persecuting and victimizing its own citizens.[Munna]

Munna is correct to the hilt. Sometimes I wonder why the hell these TV Channels even invite these Anal Retentive Khakis instead of them they should invite Professors of Strategic Studies, Pilitcal Science and International Relations.

Regardingexcelled is in the field of persecuting and victimizing its own citizens, here is a glimpse:

Do note that the disappeared persons were not Jihadis but Secular political workers.

Picture of Secret Detentions Emerges in Pakistan By CARLOTTA GALL Published: December 19, 2007



Page: 2


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies, apparently trying to avoid acknowledging an elaborate secret detention system, have quietly set free nearly 100 men suspected of links to terrorism, few of whom were charged, human rights groups and lawyers here say.

‘MI handed Dr Aafia over to US’ By Faraz Khan

Friday, August 08, 2008


KARACHI: The Sindh Home Department has alleged Military Intelligence (MI) detained Dr Aafia Siddiqui in 2003 and then handed her over to United States-based agencies, Daily Times learnt on Thursday.

Dr Siddiqui is under trial in New York, accused of Al Qaeda involvement and attempting to kill FBI agents while detained in Afghanistan.

Sources close to the matter claimed the Interior Ministry asked the provincial home departments for detailed reports on missing persons a couple of weeks ago, and that the list prepared by the Sindh Home Department included Dr Siddiqui and her three children, Maryam, Ahmed and Suleman. The report confirmed MI detained Dr Siddiqui and her three children in Gulshan-e-Iqbal on March 30, 2003, later handing her over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The FBI declared the arrests of Siddiqui and her teenage son Muhammad Ahmed, while her other two children, Maryam and Suleman, remain missing.

Dr Fauzia, Siddiqui’s younger sister, declined to comment when asked about the missing children.

Dr Siddiqui’s mother, Ismat, told Daily Times that she did not know who detained her daughter but said she was told an officer from the law enforcement or intelligence agency admitted he arrested Dr Siddiqui. After Dr Siddiqui’s arrest, FBI officials apologised and promised to release her, but this promise has yet to be honoured. “If Aafia was genuinely a criminal, our lawyer would not have taken the case as he did a thorough investigation into our family and found no evidence of any wrongdoing,” she said. When contacted for comment, no senior official in the Sindh Home Department was available.


AI Index: ASA 04/001/2006 (Public) News Service No:

In Pakistan, the indifference shown to the enforced disappearance of terror suspects has contributed to its spread beyond "war on terror" related cases. The enforced disappearance of members of other groups such as Baloch and Sindhi nationalists are now also being reported. Courts are swamped with habeas corpus petitions to determine victims' whereabouts. State agents routinely deny holding the victims or knowing anything about their fate or whereabouts.

"People should be arrested and detained according to the law, not forced into a van in the middle of the night and swept off to an anonymous detention centre where they risk torture and further abuses. Individuals have the right to challenge their detention, to see a lawyer of their choosing and talk to their families. Families have a right to know where their relatives are," said Catherine Baber.

Notes to Editors

Amnesty International will be releasing a report on enforced disappearances related to the "war on terror" in Pakistan later this year. If you would like to receive this report, please contact the press office.

Amnesty International is lobbying for the draft International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance to be adopted by consensus and without amendment at the 61st session of the UN General Assembly this year.



Soiled Hands:

The Pakistan Army’s Repression of the Punjab Farmers’ Movement Human Rights Watch July 2004 Vol. 16, No. 10 (C)




We were produced before Major Tahir Malik. He asked why we had not made the contract payments. We answered that we had no money. They took us to the torture cell and Jallad [“tormentor”] Munir started thrashing us with a leather whip. He made us all strip naked and whipped us till we bled. Major Tahir Malik would personally supervise the whippings, abuse us,
laugh at us, and punch us…. We were produced before officers again in the morning. They would insist that we pay the contract money. Upon our refusal, it would begin again. —Interview with Mohammad Iqbal, Okara, October 23, 2003 They snatched our milk and our bicycles. Gomi, the informer, took away the milk and bicycles. They blindfolded us and took us to Rangers Headquarters. As soon as we got there, they started beating us with sticks. After a while we even stopped crying or screaming… There were sixteen [adult] farmers [already present when] we
arrived there. [We saw them being] beaten badly with a flat leather whip by Munir ”Jallad” and Inspector Aashiq Ali in the presence of Major Tahir Malik. The farmers were bleeding and crying in pain. Some were weeping out of fear and sitting with their heads bowed.

The farmers were bleeding and crying in pain. Some were weeping out of fear and sitting with their heads bowed. —Interview with Abid Ali, age ten, Okara, October 24, 2003

Without a trace by Declan Walsh Friday March 16, 2007 The Guardian


Seven-year-old Saud Bugti's father was picked up by secret police on a street corner in Karachi last November. No one has heard from him since. He has joined the ranks of Pakistan's 'disappeared' – victims of the country's brutal attempts to wage war on both al-Qaida and those who fail to support the government. But how many innocent people are being caught up in this? And what is America's connection to the barbaric torture of suspects? Declan Walsh reports

Much before the declaration of emergency right under the nose of USA!

Please find attachment on "Reports on Human Rights Situation During Year 2006."

Asian Human Rights Commission 19floor, go-up commercial building,
998-canton road. Mong Kok. Kowloon. Hong Kong - China


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