National Assembly vs the Nizam-e-Adal
Even while the ink had not yet dried from the presidential signature on the Malakand Nizam-e-Adal accord, the two prime signatories proceeded to their next most favourite and much expected moves. The President packed his luggage and left for Dubai. The Maulana made a statement that the judgements of Qazi courts can not be challenged in any other court and his next goal is to implement the Nizam-e-Adal in the rest of Pakistan. After all Islamabad is just 100 miles away from the home of the new Sharia country and the Maulana sees no reason why his brand of justice should not be shared by its neighbours.
Malakand Division, a region that encompasses more than one-third of the Northwest Frontier Province is now under a Sharia system that will primarily be defined by two great ‘jurists-in-law’ (father-in-law and son-in-law). One is Maulana Fazlullah, whose real skills lie in the fields of radio frequency (RF) engineering and mass murder. He did not just ask 80000 girls to quit education, but also destroyed the 200 schools that were engaged in this process. He also waged a bloody war against the state of Pakistan, killing hundreds of soldiers and civilians, in some cases dragging their dead bodies on the roads. The other is Sufi Mohammad, who was in jail till a few months back for his excellence in raising private armies. He led some 5000 young men into Afghanistan in 2001, most of whom never returned to fight another day.
We need to understand what Sufi Mohammad and company really want. ‘‘We hate democracy,” Sufi told the crowd of thousands of followers in Mingora. “We want the occupation of Islam in the entire world. Islam does not permit democracy or election. From the very beginning, I have viewed democracy as a system imposed on us by the infidels. Islam does not allow democracy or elections,” Sufi told Deutsche Presse-Agentur just days before the Malakand Accord was signed. His role model of a government is the Taliban government that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. He said ,”I believe the Taliban government formed a complete Islamic state, which was an ideal example for other Muslim countries.” The Sufi has no ambiguity on the nature of punishments that he intends to generously distribute. ”Penalties including flogging, chopping off hands and stoning to death must be available to Swat’s Islamic courts. These punishments are prescribed in Islam. No one can stop that. It is God’s law,” said Sufi Mohammad, sitting on the floor in his makeshift headquarters in Mingora.
The Pakistani state has surrendered to the Sufi and the Maulana led militants for imposition of a despotic rule in Malakand. The lives, wishes and faith of thousands of men, women and children have been made hostage to the interpretations of a few individuals. The Sufi wants the regular courts in Swat to pack up and leave as the ‘shariat’ courts with ‘qazis’ will start functioning soon. These were not the democratic ideals this country was made for. The new “peace accord” may well have signalled the end of Pakistan as we know it.
What has caused parts of Pakistan (and perhaps the entire Pakistan at some stage) to begin surrendering to speedy justice and other promised social reforms by militants. Clearly for all these years, the state could provide its citizens nothing but poor governance, delayed justice, lawlessness and massive corruption. These are fertile conditions that would make any people vulnerable and receptive to alternate options. A small band of fanatics can easily occupy the space vacated by a large peaceful majority. The political parties and the civil society (except for MQM) have failed to take a clear position and have opted to watch the show from the sidelines. Clearly no lessons were learnt from Pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous words , “first they came for the communists (read Swat), and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist (read Swati)…. Then they came for me, and there was no one was left to speak for me”.
It is the responsibility of the state to guarantee the right to life, liberty and security of every citizen, without distinction of race, sex, religion, or the territory to which a person belongs. The state cannot hand over these rights to the people who themselves have arrived at the scene by conquering a territory of Pakistan. The political leadership and the armed forces of Pakistan ought to be held accountable for this surrender. The survival of the state as a cohesive society is seriously threatened if it continues to overlook and patronise the urban militancy (such as the one witnessed at Shanakht festival) as well as the religious fanaticism. Pakistan would be on a self-destruct trajectory if the state was to become instrumental in enforcing any one or the other brand of a sect or a religion on all its citizens. One wished there was a short Universal Declaration of Human Rights 101 course given to all our legislators before they signed the Nizam-e-Adal bill in such indecent haste.
The NEWS 15 April 2009