General Kayani, what is stopping you to arrest Fazullah, your comrade in arms?
Madness in the mountains
Friday, February 06, 2009
The militants who control most of Swat have gone mad. They have now threatened to kill lawyers and judges, as they represent a system that they oppose. Instead of the Constitution and code of law, they wish to impose their own version of Shariah law. What kind of order this would bring can be judged from the evil that seems to be a militant hallmark, unmistakable even when an attempt is made to disguise it behind a thin veneer of false morality. It is this morality that Maulana Fazlullah and his men resort to when they make their threats over the illegal FM radio they continue to run. The latest such threat has been made to the lawyers, with the Swat Bar Association warning all of its 300 members to stop attending the regular courts or risk death. And such threats must be taken seriously given by the brutal manner in which the militants have conducted themselves in the valley. In fact, in the same report which spoke of the threat to the legal community of Swat, was a sorry tale, given by a person none other than the region’s police chief, of how the militants had recently gang-raped and killed four women in Kabal – and a total of nine in all in recent weeks.
Out of fear caused by this terror, leaders of the legal community in Swat have suggested enforcing Sharia. This would be a folly. In the past too deals with militants or attempts to appease them have led nowhere. It is time now to stop them in their tracks. The men of Maulana Fazlullah have run amuck. There can be no doubt about this. It is absurd that some in high places continue to defend them. Force is needed to halt them before they inflict still greater damage. The stories emerging from Swat speak of terrorized people who feel helpless in the face of the brutality unleashed on them. These people live with militants who do not hesitate to kill, to maim, to beat or to ridicule. Business and indeed life itself in that once peaceful valley amidst tall mountains has been paralyzed. The military needs to immediately deliver on its promise to act decisively in Swat. There is so far little evidence that its operation is succeeding. The government’s job is to ensure this happens. Allowing the situation that now exists in Swat to continue, while ministers sit and twiddle their thumbs or make meaningless statements in Islamabad, would be nothing less than a crime against humanity. Every effort must be made to liberate Swat and to place Maulana Fazlullah behind bars to answer for the many crimes he is guilty of before still more mayhem takes hold in a part of the country where the state has completely relinquished its writ.