Drokpa, India/Pakistan: Around 2,500 Drokpas live in three villages in the Dha-Hanu valley of Ladakh, which is situated in Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. The Drokpas are completely different from the Tibeto-Burman inhabitants of most of Ladakh – tall and fair, with big, lightly coloured eyes, full lips and distinctive noses and eyebrows. Historians have identified the Drokpa people as the only authentic descendants of the Aryans left in India. For centuries, the Drokpas have been indulging in public kissing and wife-swapping without any inhibitions or consideration for marital relationships. Since the practice was banned by the authorities, the Drokpas now only conduct this passionate display in the absence of outsiders.
Mohenjo-daro meaning Mound of the Dead was one of the largest city settlements in the Indus Valley Civilization which thrived in ancient times along the Indus River. Mohenjo-daro itself is located in Larkano District in the modern day province of Sindh. Built before 2600 BC, the city was one of the earliest urban settlements in the world, existing at the same time as the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Crete. The archaeological remains of the city are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
PESHAWAR: A decisive operation has been launched against militants in the Tirah valley of Bara by Special Services Groups (SSG) forces along with regular troops, during which at least 23 troops have been killed along with local lashkar men.
Scores of militants have also been killed in the offensive during the last three days.
Official sources confirmed to Dawn.com that several soldiers, including SSG commandos, have been killed in the battle for Tirah valley on Saturday, around 30 militants have also been confirmed dead along with scores of others injured.
On late Sunday evening, a clash took place between security forces and militants in Akka Khel area of Bara tehsil. Ten militants were killed in the fighting, official sources said.
Sources said that SSG commandos along with regular army troops and Frontier Corps are battling to root out the last pockets of resistance in the Tirah valley especially on the border of Orakzai Agency.
The landlocked area is reported to be a bastion of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other foreign militants.
The offensive has entered a crucial phase, after softening of targets by gunships and jet fighters.
Ground troops along with local volunteers have been mobilised to clear the area.
Security experts had already hinted at a decisive strike in the Tirah valley as the TTP and Lashkar-i-Islam had started consolidating their positions in the valley.
The two groups pose a serious threat to the settled areas especially Peshawar.
The FC media cell had confirmed on Friday that four soldiers were killed and over 14 militants had died in the clashes which have been continuing since then.
Sources have confirmed to Dawn.com that one dead body of an SSG commando and six injured SSG soldiers along with eight other solders were shifted to the CMH Peshawar on Saturday.
By IQBAL JAFAR
No two countries in the world are so close in their experience as a young nation and yet so far apart in their political compulsions as Israel and Pakistan.
To a lesser degree of uniqueness, these two countries have much to do with the questions of war and peace in the vast landmass from the Nile Valley to the Indus Valley, that once was a cradle of civilization, and could next be its graveyard. What happens in these two countries and between them and their neighbors should be of great interest for the international community.
Born only a few months apart, both on a Friday, Israel and Pakistan share an incredibly long list of other remarkable, even uncanny, commonalities.
Consider: both were carved out of a British colony; both were created in the name of religion by leaders who were secularists at heart; both were born as geographical oddities, Israel in three blocs and Pakistan in two; both saw large-scale exodus and immigration in the first year of their existence; both got involved in territorial disputes with their neighbors immediately after birth; both have borders that have yet to stabilize after more than six decades of existence.
5 killed, 5 injured in clash between rival militants groups
Firefight between Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansarul Islam began when latter’s fighters attacked stronghold of LI militants.
PESHAWAR: At least five militants were killed and five others were injured when clashes erupted between Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) and Ansarul Islam (AI) in the Sanda Pal area of Tirah Valley, Khyber Agency.
According to locals, the firefight between the two groups began in the early hours of Monday when fighters of AI attacked Sanda Pal, a stronghold of LI militants.
They claimed that four militants of the Mangal Bagh-led LI had been killed and two were injured, while one fighter of AI was killed and three were injured.
Clashes between the two groups occur frequently as AI fights the LI to gain control of the area.
According to sources, heavy weapons were used in the fight and AI fighters took control of a number of small outposts to reach Sanda Pal – the main outpost.
Residents living in the secluded valley have little communication with the world.
The area has been under the influence of militants, including the LI, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Ansarul Islam, who have consistently targeted each other over territorial disputes and sectarian differences.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune
Via – Twitter » TF’s Tweet
– The preservation of Moenjodaro was discussed at a conference held in Karachi on Saturday in which archaeological experts, top Sindh government officials and Unesco representatives participated. While the provincial government allocated Rs100m to help conserve the 5,000-year-old Indus Valley Civilisation and World Heritage site, experts in their desperation suggested burial of the ruins until such time that technology became available to control the rising water table and salt levels in the soil that threaten the prehistoric site. International experts have reportedly been struggling for years to conserve Moenjodaro, in the process experimenting with various techniques that just do not seem to give the desired results. This is extremely worrisome. ….
Read more : DAWN EDITORIAL » Aboard the Democracy Train
– As a child growing up after India’s partition, Kashmir to me was always a part of India. Only in middle school did I begin to realize that it was considered “disputed territory” by much of the world, the sentiment being especially fierce in neighboring Pakistan. The map of India that we studied in school showed Indian Kashmir as a larger territory than what was actually under Indian control. Parts of it in the north and the west were in reality, within China and Pakistan. The scenic northernmost state, a popular destination for summer tourism and the backdrop of many a puerile romantic song & dance number of made-in-Bombay movies, was not a very urgent topic of discussion for the general Indian public. Kashmir for most Indians, evoked benign, pretty images of apple, apricot and walnut orchards, chinar trees, shimmering lakes, snow capped mountains, houseboats, fine pashmina shawls, lacquered papier mache ornaments and the valley’s light skinned aloof inhabitants.
Later in my teen years I began to understand that Kashmir was not the placid paradise we had imagined as children. Its politics were complicated and its population sharply divided on the state’s rightful status – part of India, part of Pakistan or a wholly independent/ autonomous entity. The difference of opinion fell across religious lines. Kashmiri Hindus wished to remain with India and the majority Muslim population of the state did not. Even then, things were mostly quiet and free of turmoil. There were quite a few Kashmiri students in my school. Many had ancestral homes and relatives in Kashmir and they visited there regularly during summer breaks. Those friends were all Hindus. Come to think of it, I did not know a single Kashmiri Muslim on a personal level until I was in college. There were Muslim traders and merchants who came down to major Indian cities bearing expensive and much coveted Kashmiri merchandise such as saffron, dried fruit, nuts and embroidered woollens, but they did not reside in the plains permanently and their children did not attend our schools. The first Kashmiri Muslim I came to know well was Agha Shahid Ali, a graduate student a few years ahead of me in Delhi University who later became a lecturer of English at my college as also a poet of some renown. It was Ali who first revealed to me that most Kashmiri Muslims did not identify themselves as Indians and many felt a greater emotional and cultural allegiance with Pakistan. An equal number wanted an autonomous state with a very loose federation with India for economic reasons. The Indian government spent large sums of money to subsidize the state’s economy and prohibited non-Kashmiris from buying land there while also meddling in local politics. Kashmiris became increasingly suspicious of the central government’s motives and the rift with India widened both politically and culturally.
Despite tensions and uncertainties, Kashmir never experienced the sectarian violence that had racked the eastern and western wings of India around partition time. Even when India and Pakistan fought several wars over their disagreement surrounding the region, Kashmir itself remained relatively free of communal strife for many decades after India’s independence. The uneasy calm ended in the late 1980s and early ’90s when the Kashmir valley became a battle ground for armed insurgents trained in Pakistan and the Indian military forces. The conflict caused a communal rift among long time residents and resulted in a mass exodus (some say expulsion) of Kashmiri Hindus from their homes. Those tensions remain to this day laced with bitterness on both sides.
I had never visited Kashmir when I lived in India. By the time the political upheaval unfolded in the 1990s, I had already left and had been living abroad for a decade. Kashmir’s troubles and deteriorating political situation were not something I paid close attention to until the Kargil War erupted in 1999. It became clear then that Kashmir had become an intractable problem for India. I am still not sure how I feel about the situation. What can India gain by holding on to a territory whose residents do not want to be a part of India? Can India protect regions like Ladakh and Jammu in the vicinity which identify firmly with the rest of India? What would happen if India does decide to vacate the valley and stops spending money to placate the population and maintain the large presence of its armed forces? Would Kashmir valley remain “independent” or will some other country like China or Pakistan march in and establish control even closer to other Indian states? How does one balance the interests of Kashmiris and the rest of India? Is peace ever possible when the citizenry perceives the government as an “occupying force?” Most confusing of all, will Kashmiri Hindus be permitted go back to the homes they abandoned out of fear and panic? And even if it was possible, would they ever want to return to a place that had cut all ties to India? ….
Read more → Accidental Blogger
By LYDIA POLGREEN
NEW DELHI — Thousands of bullet-riddled bodies are buried in dozens of unmarked graves across Kashmir, a state human rights commission inquiry has concluded, many of them likely to be those of civilians who disappeared more than a decade ago in a brutal insurgency.
The inquiry, the result of three years of investigative work by senior police officers working for the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, brings the first official acknowledgment that civilians might have been buried in mass graves in Kashmir, a region claimed by both India and Pakistan where insurgents waged a bloody battle for independence in the early 1990s.
The report sheds new light on a grim chapter in the history of the troubled region and confirms a 2008 report by a Kashmiri human rights organization that found hundreds of bodies buried in the Kashmir Valley.
Tens of thousands of people died in the insurgency, which began in 1989 and was partly fueled by weapons, cash and training from Pakistan.
According to the report, the bodies of hundreds of men described as unidentified militants were buried in unmarked graves. But of the more than 2,000 bodies, 574 were identified as local residents.
“There is every probability that these unidentified dead bodies buried in various unmarked graves at 38 places of North Kashmir may contain the dead bodies of enforced disappearances,” the report said.
The report catalogs 2,156 bodies found in graves in four districts of Kashmir that had been at the heart of the insurgency. ….
Read more → THE NEW YORK TIMES
By Asif Ali Zardari, The writer is president of Pakistan.
Just days before her assassination, my wife, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, wrote presciently of the war within Islam and the potential for a clash between Islam and the West: “There is an internal tension within Muslim society. The failure to resolve that tension peacefully and rationally threatens to degenerate into a collision course of values spilling into a clash between Islam and the West. It is finding a solution to this internal debate within Islam – about democracy, about human rights, about the role of women in society, about respect for other religions and cultures, about technology and modernity – that shall shape future relations between Islam and the West.”
Two months ago my friend Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was cut down for standing up against religious intolerance and against those who would use debate about our laws to divide our people. On Tuesday, another leading member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister for minority affairs and the only Christian in our cabinet, was murdered by extremists tied to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
These assassinations painfully reinforce my wife’s words and serve as a warning that the battle between extremism and moderation in Pakistan affects the success of the civilized world’s confrontation with the terrorist menace.
A small but increasingly belligerent minority is intent on undoing the very principles of tolerance upon which our nation was founded in 1947; principles by which Pakistan’s founder, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, lived and died; and principles that are repeated over and over in the Koran. The extremists who murdered my wife and friends are the same who blew up the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and who have blown up girls’ schools in the Swat Valley.
We will not be intimidated, nor will we retreat. Such acts will not deter the government from our calibrated and consistent efforts to eliminate extremism and terrorism. It is not only the future of Pakistan that is at stake but peace in our region and possibly the world.
Read more : The Washington Post
– Condemned the religious intolerance and human rights violations in Pakistan
HOUSTON, TX, USA. Tens of hundreds of Sindhi-Americans gathered in Houston on Saturday, January 15, 2011 to commemorate the 107th birthday of Mr. G. M. Syed, a national leader of the Sindh who waged a nonviolent struggle against religious fundamentalism and for freedom.
Sindh is home to the ancient Indus (Sindhu) Valley civilization and is now a unit of Pakistan. A vibrant Sindhi-American community numbering in the tens of thousands lives in various U.S. cities. More than 30 million Sindhis live in Sindh today. Sindhis are supportive of democracy and secularism and have been marginalized by security establishment of the country and its religious extremist reactionary ideology.
… For three years in a row now, Kashmiris have been in the streets, protesting what they see as India’s violent occupation. But the militant uprising against the Indian government that began with the support of Pakistan 20 years ago is in retreat. The Indian Army estimates that there are fewer than 500 militants operating in the Kashmir Valley today. The war has left 70,000 dead and tens of thousands debilitated by torture. Many, many thousands have “disappeared.” More than 200,000 Kashmiri Hindus have fled the valley. Though the number of militants has come down, the number of Indian soldiers deployed remains undiminished.
But India’s military domination ought not to be confused with a political victory. Ordinary people armed with nothing but their fury have risen up against the Indian security forces. A whole generation of young people who have grown up in a grid of checkpoints, bunkers, army camps and interrogation centers, whose childhood was spent witnessing “catch and kill” operations, whose imaginations are imbued with spies, informers, “unidentified gunmen,” intelligence operatives and rigged elections, has lost its patience as well as its fear. With an almost mad courage, Kashmir’s young have faced down armed soldiers and taken back their streets. …
Read more : THE NEW YORK TIMES
The flat out refusal of the Kurramis, who have lost over 1,200 souls since April 2007, to cede their territory and pride to the jihadists and their masters has thrown a wrench in the latter’s immediate plans. Having failed to dupe the citizenry, the establishment has elected to bring them to their knees by force
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited a tribal agency last week but he did not tender an apology to some local families, whose dear ones — including children — were killed by the Pakistan Army gunship helicopters this past September. Not that one was holding one’s breath for the general’s regrets but it would have presented some semblance of fairness given the Pakistan Army’s demands for apology and furore over the NATO choppers killing its troops in the same region during the same month. Well, life is not fair as it is, especially for the people of Kurram — the third largest Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).
The crime of these civilians, killed by their own army, was that they had been resisting the influx of foreign terrorists into their territory. Despite the claims put forth by the military about the NATO incursion, it is clear now that the latter had attacked the members of the Haqqani terrorist network who were using the village of Mata Sangar in Kurram to attack the ISAF posts in neighbouring Khost, Afghanistan. Reportedly, the de facto leader of the Haqqani network, Sirajuddin Haqqani, was in the region at the time of the NATO attack.
What has also become increasingly clear is that the Pakistani establishment is trying its level best to relocate its Haqqani network assets to the Kurram Agency in anticipation of an operation that it would have to start — under pressure from the US — in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) sooner rather than later. This is precisely what the establishment had intended to do when it said that the NWA operation would be conducted in its own timeframe. The Taliban onslaught on the Shalozan area of Kurram, northeast of Mata Sangar, in September 2010 was part of this tactical rearrangement. When the local population reversed the Taliban gains in the battle for the village Khaiwas, the army’s gunships swooped down on them to protect its jihadist partners.
This is not the first time that the security establishment has attempted to use the Kurram Agency to provide transit or sanctuary to its Afghan Taliban allies. It did so during the so-called jihad of the 1980s and 1990s when the geo-strategic tip of the region called the Parrot’s Beak served as a bridgehead for operations against the neighbouring Afghan garrisons, especially Khost. In the fall of 2001, the Pakistan Army moved into Kurram and the Tirah Valley straddling the Khyber and Kurram agencies, ostensibly to block al Qaeda’s escape from the Tora Bora region. The Tirah deployment actually served as a diversion, as al Qaeda and key Afghan Taliban were moved through Kurram and in some instances helped to settle there. …
Read more : Daily Times
Event organized by Asha Chand of Sindhi Sangat.
By: Fayaz Amar Buriro
I have found some amazing similarities between Punjab and Sindh, where I shocked to see that majority of our regional activists are aloof from these facts. Here I am trying to show some of these:
>>Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) contains Sindh & Punjab, … the Moen-jo-Daro & Harappa are vital proofs.
»In history, there were Great India and Persia, which had large scope of sovereignty. The Baluchistan was buffer state between Persia and India.
»There is a Natural boundary between Sindh & Baluchistan to keep them safe and protect from each other, the same is not with Punjab and Sindh. There is no any natural boundary between Punjab and the Sindh. More over for the better understanding to the culture and language both have one mixed race nation called Siraiki. This nation is working natural way of exchanging the parameters of Sindh as well as Punjab.
»Sindh & Punjab have same agriculture based economy; this base is not with Baluchistan.
»Before the Islam, Sindhis and Punjabis both were religiously Hindus, but when we look in Baluchs, they were Kurd mixed old dogma believers.
»The linguistic grammar and rhythm of Sindhi & Punjabi are same because both languages born from ancient Sanskrit. Baluchi language came from Persian accent.
»The folk music or literature of Punjab and Sindh is very same in against of Baluchistan which is totally different. Their musical instrument and note of ragas are totally different than Punjab or Sindh.
» The philosophical approach & psyche of Sindh and Punjab was (and is) same rather than Baluchistan. Both had vast inspired Vedanti Mysticism (Sufism). Shah Lateef, Sachal Sarmast Bullah Shah, Fareed, Waris Shah Mehr Ali are lively legends of the philosophy from both states.
»In past, there are multiple proofs that Sindh and Baluchistan fought on interests and lost thousands people from both sides in different wars, but there is no any tiny proof has been found that Punjab fought with Sindh on any issue.
» In Sindhi Society, the extremist acts like Karo Kari , robbery, theft psyche, murders etc are well gifted by Baluchistan, such sort of crimes are linked together between the inner Baluchistan even up to the now a days too. According to the geography if we classified the Sindh in to two parts then we are finding following sub regions:»
1.Right Bank of Indus: As agricultural issues this bank is not well furnished and rich as comparison with other bank. Mostly Balochs occupied in this bank, that’s why the bank is topmost nest of criminals. They even smuggle currency, involved in human trafficking, kidnapping and harassing the other communities. Overall if we overview on this bank then we would find the majority of Baluchistan based headmen, those are ruling over the conflicts of tribal issues, they make daily new issues for the murders of innocent people on the issue of tribal wars.
2.Left Bank of Indus: This bank of Indus has good agricultural lands and almost peaceful atmosphere. The ruling headmen belonging with old Sindhi castes. The Baluchi influence is not much here, that’s why they live in peace and harmony. Today the history witness that most classical poets belong with this bank, who taught to live in peace and love.
»The Punjabi settlers who came in Sindh since 1940 (mostly Punjabi came here before 40’s) had started the cultivating agriculture and shown their keen hard work with the land. Today they have built villages, live in peace and prosperity in the Sindh. They don’t involve in criminal practices, they have given their daughters to local Sindhis for marriages. And the other hands Baluchis have really made hell regarding in the peace and to maintaining law & order situations. They shown their own psyche in criminal activities. Today Baluchis people are not wealth handed labors as comparison with Punjabi settlers.
»In aspects of refuges race, Baluchis & Punjabis are both migrated nations who came here for the interests regarding with their betterment of lives. Punjabis started their own profession as farming lands and Baluchis had shown their own. They spread criminal activities and on the shoulders of black wealth they became headmen, politicians and achieved multiple trades. Today they are more than 70% holding local politics up to the higher level seats of assemblies, where from they are acting their best sincerity with the Sindh and local settlers. Irony is that they are largely headmen of national politics in the Sindh. Syeds are second top numbered politicians of Sindh. Amazing is that they are also refugee.
»Today the Sindhi language is a lively language and according to the UNISCO report about the languages the Sindhi language is totally safe and will survive with vigor capacity in even next century as Punjabi too. But the Baluchi language and its accent are in red zone. Today near about 26 accents of Baluchi language are died due to showing least efforts to save the language by their speakers.
»The history of conflict between Sindh & Punjab is not much old but after the partition of Indo-Pak. In the partition Sindhis have faced enormous difficulties and withdrawn its middle class in shape of Hindus who had migrated from Sindh. The second effect was fallen on Punjab who lost its left arm (East Punjab). But no any sign is visible in which we can see that Baluchistan had lost any identity or economical downfall in the partition.
»It’s the very touchy sense in grief of Sindhi labor, but its fact; that Punjabis had taught the new ways of agro-technology and market concern environment to the Sindhis, but its very invisible any proof that Baluchis have given any expertise to local Sindhis except short cut methodologies, trickery ways to success wealth.
»Today if Sindhis are well elaborated in every field of life then there is partly pushes of Punjab; otherwise on the shoulders of Baluchis, Sindhi might be in the age of tribal system.
Hence the question comes in our mind that in old times Punjab and Sindh had passed really golden age, then when and where from their fuss started?
I’ve found some amazing reasons that:
*The history of current conflicts is not too old than 70 years before. It started from when Sindh separated from Bombay in 1936.
*Sindh has get rid of Mulla but Punjab has been pulling up the Mullas, due to its 2 nation theory.
*Sindh has aliened Germany forces in 2nd World War in the shape of 3rd Hur Movement, but Punjab had totally aside with alliance forces with British Army. And when Britain announced the Pakistan and India as free countries, they went and given gift the whole Pakistan to Punjab. And the issue arose from the starting day.
*The riot or conflicts between Sindh and Punjab are not natural but the self made from some politicians who never want to make a peaceful atmosphere here. Those politicians can be classified in following cadres:
1.US Foreign Policy Makers.
3.Some greedy Sindhi Nationalists leaders.
May be I am wrong but here I have shared , what ever I’ve found!
by Jagdeesh Ahuja, Hyderabad, Sindh.
Originally Hinglaj has nothing to do with religion or nationalism. Hinglaj is the historical monument of Sindhu Civilization. Hingol was one of the great many kingdoms of Sapta Sindhva (Sindhu des of seven rivers) and Hinglaj Devi was last mother queen of matriarchal era of Indus Valley. Another name of Hinglaj Devi is Goddess Naina which is very akin to Goddess Nania of Sumerian Civilization. The great poet of Indus Valley, Shah Latif called her “Nani Ama(n)” and after then Hinglaj Temple became famous as Temple of Nani Ama(n) especially in the Muslim populace. And Hinglaj Yatra has now got a great new altitude beyond religious divide.
We are unfortunate people who disown our own history. Ironically people of India own our monuments of ancient civilization as their sacred religious shrines and we are ever ready to give up our past and destroy our future. What a great alienation and ignorance of our own history! How can one weigh the advantages of destruction of Harappa, Taxila or Mohen-jo-daro!? Hinglaj is even more ancient than these historical sites. Mehargarh and Hinglaj are the monuments of advent of civilization. Legend of Shiva Parpati explains the transition of matriarchal era to patriarchal era. Shiva is the first male god of Sindhu Civilization whose whole Shakti (Power) was enshrined in his spouse Parpati (Hinglaj Devi) that is why she is also called Shakti Devi. It is well known fact that Shiva was the Lord of Indigenous Dravidian people of Indus Valley. When they were forced to migrate to Ganges Valley by Central Asian Aryan invaders, they continued to worship their Lord Shiva there. Long after the Aryans settled in Sapta Sindhva and owned Shiva along with their Lord Indra (God of Storm), people of Ganges valley started to visit the land of their ancestors. Hence the tradition of Hinglaj Yatra took place.
We must not forget the fact that the word Hindu itself is nothing but Sindhu. The Persians pronounced Sindhu as Hindu. And later Greek invaders pronounced Hindu as Indu, thence words Indus and India came into existence. Due to our ignorance we have lost sense of our history. Religious and nationalistic narrow mindedness has blurred our vision. Hinglaj doesn’t belong to any single religion or nation only, it is a great asset of Indus Valley and heritage of whole humanity, which should be put in the World Heritage list of UNESCO.
Creeping Talibanization in Pakistan’s ‘Paradise’ Valley
By RAHIL YASIN
FRACTURED PAKISTAN — Cricket matches take place during the “Inter-varsity Girls Cricket Championship 2009″ held at Sindh University on Jan. 24. But hundreds of miles northwest at the foothills of the Himalayas, where the Taliban rule, female teachers stay at home, while lands are barren and trees grow fruitless, and video shops are torched, and barbers are afraid to shave beards.
LAHORE, Pakistan — People in Swat – once called the ‘paradise’ on earth or Switzerland of Pakistan – are living in tense times. The Pakistani Taliban have stoked fear in parts of the valley, and their control is growing. They gave demolished schools and bombed bridges;
political workers are assassinated, journalists are tortured, girls are forbidden from going to school. Even dead bodies have been exhumed from their graves and put on gallows. The power of the government has shrunk to a limited area in the district.
Lands are getting barren and trees are growing fruitless. Female teachers are forced to live in their houses, video shops are burnt and barbers are warned against shaving beards because the Taliban see this act as un-Islamic. In the last two years, more than 800 hotels and 405 restaurants have been closed in the picturesque Swat Valley – one of Pakistan’s main tourist hubs for decades and a major source of foreign revenue – as law and order deteriorates.
Around 40,000 people connected with the valley’s hotel industry are unemployed, as are thousands of others who are indirectly linked to the industry. Militancy, which has disrupted every walk of life in the picturesque Swat Valley, has dealt a massive blow to its once fabulous tourism industry that once enchanted tourists from around
The population of Swat district was 1.5 million, but two-thirds have migrated to other areas of the country. More than 200 people, including important personalities, had been killed in targeted killings and bomb blasts in Swat.
But Islam teaches us to show care and compassion, even toward the plants and animals. To inflict destruction, harm or injury toward them is deemed as a major sin, so how can anyone under any circumstances justify the killing or maiming of innocent human beings?
Besides banning female education in Swat Valley, the militants have torched or completely destroyed more than 165 girls’ and boys’ schools and colleges thereby stopping students from taking their annual examinations.
In Pakistan, literacy figures for women had risen steadily since the 1990s. In the Swat area they were up 75 percent over 2002, with 30,000 more girls in schools. Foreign donors helped establish NGO-run schools, pushing up enrollment levels.
The recent resurgence in militant extremism has come as a bitter blow indeed.
Current circumstances condemn millions of children, particularly girls, to a life without education â€” and, therefore, to a life of missed opportunities. Many girls say their parents are too afraid to send them to school. An estimated 80,000 girls have had their education cut. They are trying to keep up with their studies at home.
But it is hard.
Traditional Islam views religion as a pact between man and God and therefore in the domain of spirituality. In this belief, there can be no compulsion or force used in religion. From the time of the Prophet Mohammed, peace and tolerance were practiced between different religious groups, with respect to distinctions in belief.
Contrary to this, the Wahhabi ideology, which the Taliban follow, is built on the concept of political enforcement of religious beliefs, thus permitting no differences in faith whatsoever. In Wahhabi belief, faith is not necessarily an option; it is sometimes mandated by force.
Similarly, extending the sphere of their activities aimed at enforcing Sharia, the followers of Fazalullah, a Taliban leader in the Swat region, are making a state within a state in the valley. He has established his own administration on the pattern of the Saudi monarchs and created a private army, equipped with the latest weapons
and controlled by his trusted and loyal commanders. Besides establishing a parallel judicial system, Fazalullah has also established a “baitul maal” (fund for the needy) for which his commanders collect “ushr” (tithes) from the locals.
The Pakistani government should provide protection and alternative institutions and mechanism to the students of Swat besides establishing relief camps and financial support to the affected people. The government and the army should place security in front of all the girls’ schools and colleges as soon as possible. The government must not surrender to the threats of extremists groups who
are exploiting the laws in the name of religion. Peace pacts with militants remain a tradition from the early history of Islam and always produced good results. So far, peace agreements with the Taliban in Swat should be given a go-ahead, with the hope that girls will return back to their schools in the ‘paradise.’
COURTESY: MIDDLE EAST TIMES
January 26, 2009