Legend from Swat: Afzal Khan Lala
Interview by Abdul Haye Kakar
BBC Urdu dot com
Story of Afzal Khan Lala – by Rahimullah Yusufzai
Also read, Last Khan standing – by Sartaj Khan
For the sake of an ankle
Each day we think the situation in Swat cannot possibly become worse than it already is. Each day it does. The theatre of absurdities played out violently there brings daily tales of growing horror. The latest among these has been the account of a man murdered because he refused to raise his ‘shalwar’ above his ankle. Instructions to do so have formed part of a new dress code issued by the local militants. Other requirements put in place state that men must keep beards and wear skull caps. Women, of course, have already been ordered into invisibility.
How long the authorities will tolerate this madness? Swat has been reduced to a kind of jungle where the militants rule by force. Local people say they have no option but to comply with instructions issued over FM radio stations. The central square in Mingora has been re-named ‘Khooni Chowk’ because of the executions – often by beheading – that take place there virtually every day. Children are among those who gather to watch. The trauma suffered by local people is unimaginable. The latest outrageous murder just shows what kind of people we are dealing with.
It is sad that there has only been limited protest so far in the rest of the country against what is happening in Swat. Through the decades, people in one part of the country seem to have become isolated from others. Few look beyond their immediate interests. Even newspapers often focus on news essentially from their own areas rather than regarding the nation as a whole. The demands raised in the National Assembly for more decisive military and government action in Swat are welcome. But more is needed to exert pressure on decision makers. Human rights groups, political parties and all of us as citizens must rise to object to what is being done and demand an immediate end to the atrocities. (The News, Editorial, 24 Jan 2009)