Jan 27, 2009 - Uncategorized    32 Comments

Reign of terror … continues

According to New York Times, 70 police officers were beheaded, shot or otherwise slain in Swat last year. The police have become so afraid that many officers have put advertisements in newspapers renouncing their jobs so the Taliban will not kill them.

Al Jazeera English also laments the paradise lost in this piece.

The radical cleric uses FM radio to pass on his decrees to the local population. So effective is his grip on the valley, that the government’s influence is now largely confined to just 36 square kilometres of territory in and around Mingora.
Fazalullah runs a self-styled judiciary, which hears cases and hands down verdicts.
A treasury collects ushr (the Islamic practice of collecting one-tenth of agricultural produce). Last month, they also collected animal hides worth millions of rupees on Eid Al Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice.

His feared – and well-equipped – rebel army reportedly takes its cue from Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, an extremist organisation headed by Baitullah Masud, the commander suspected of authoring the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister, in 2007.

The NYT article also has a priceless quote by Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the chief military spokesman. He came up with this absolute gem:

“Just because they (The Taliban) come out at night and throw down four or five bodies in the square does not mean that militants control anything.”

I wonder how the families of those four or five bodies thrown in the square would react to such a cavalier response to the death of their loved ones.

PS: At times I do wonder if we deserve people like Mullah Fazlullah lording over us, after all, a group of people who actually gather to watch public lashings and beheadings deserve someone like him.

Image courtesy: European Pressphoto Agency via NYT

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  • hectic stuff Tazeen!!

    Just sayin hey – i R back (:

  • Maj Gen Athar Abbas is brilliant. I wonder what would happen if like Musharraf someday this imbecile comes in to power….

  • sad state men

  • Whats going through your mind when you’re one of the dozens in the background, looking as someones being killed?

    This sort of stuff makes me want to give up being human, they obviously have.

  • I guess the following quote of Voltear(17th centuary French scholar) says it all:

    “Beware of a man who says, Belive in god as I do or god will punish you, because tomarrow he will say belive in god as I do or I will kill you.”

  • Che,

    Major Gen Athar Abbas comes from a family of journalists. His three younger brothers are all heading channels and news papers. Azhar Abbas is heading Geo News, Zafar Abbas used to be with BBC and is the resident Editor Dawn, Islamabad and the youngest Mazhar Abbas heads ARY Oneworld, Geo News’rival channel.

    I think he was chosen by army to head ISPR only for his association with journalists in the family.

  • Fatima,

    I guess you mean Voltaire. The tragedy with us is that we have no Voltaire.

  • This photograph…it’s horrifying, Tazeen. It’s just so horrifying ..

    I’ve been hearing some disturbing voices ring in my head repeatedly of late…perhaps Pakistanis are, after all,that ‘qaum’ that the poets, the scriptures and the historians warn us abut. The people that don’t want to change, the people who will stay at punishment’s receiving end in their ignorance and apathy unless they do something — anything — to lift themselves out of it.

    Sigh, it’s like a terrible horror movie playing out in front of you and you can’t even switch it off because you are, in however obscure ways, a part of it

  • Let these mullah’s kill each other…. one might say. The truth is, Swat and it’s people have a long history of peace and tranquility. These foreign invaders are trying to prove that anything can be destroyed.

  • I blame America for this – cuz before America showed up in Afghanistan – Swat was just fine… really, I kid you not. Now, if you disagree with me then you are perhaps an agent of the jews or CIA

    -Tongue firmly planted in MY cheek – Zoobee

  • “I guess you mean Voltaire. The tragedy with us is that we have no Voltaire.”

    Hey wait a minute – we have Salman Rushdie … except in case of glorious Islamic pride, peeps like Salman are condemned to death… cuz Muslims are too sensitive and generally lack sense of humor.

    -This I say without tongue n cheek – Zoobee

  • I still can’t believe that a country as large as Pakistan would let this kind of thing go on… Why aren’t people rioting in the streets of SWAT? This cleric might have a well equipped army but he can’t stop thousands of people if they all band together…

    What goes on in SWAT makes the petty problems of my country seem so trivial.

    I almost feel guilty for blogging about anything else now. Why don’t I see this stuff on my 11 o’clock news in Canada?

  • I’m sorry but Salman Rushdie is hardly a Voltaire. His usual solution for geopolitical problems is to bomb them away. He was a supporter of NATO bombings on Yugoslavia in ’99 and is an opponent of the racial hatred act introduced by the British government. He and Christopher Hitchins…another ‘literary belligerati’ are not the answer to religious intolerance. They’re just intellectuals who’re a little asinine in their own intolerance of a different kind.

    Anyone on any extreme is wrong, I say. People on all ends in today’s world need to relax, chill out, have a nice cup of tea and show some respect to each other:) Whether it’s excessive religiosity or militant atheism…both symbolize intolerance and are wrong, wrong, wrong.

    And I actually don’t agree with us not having any intellectual voices of reason…we have a few. Tazeen, Mohammad Hanif is one, I know you’d agree with that. It’s just a matter of them not being enough and not being heard enough. Perhaps when the Pakistani people have exhausted everything and tried everything wrong, they will turn to those voices and do it right. One day, hopefully before it’s too late.

  • Just ten years ago I was vacationing in that part of the country: It was vastly beautiful and the people were immensely hospitable.

    How much a decade can change.

  • “I’m sorry but Salman Rushdie is hardly a Voltaire. His usual solution for geopolitical problems is to bomb them away.”

    Just as Voltaire was not really an atheist but someone that harbored grudge against the organized religion. He also considered Islam as a “wise, severe and a humane religion”. He also detested democracy, was a proponent of enlightened absolutist (e.g. had Voltaire been alive today and lived in Pakistan, he would have whole heartedly supported Musharraf).

    In any case, Salman Rushdie’s person vs his writing speak for itself, and naturally I speak for him for having penned Shame, and Midnight’s Children. There exists none like him in the Islamic world as far as written word is concerned.

  • I also think that Atheism in general, as is the case with Feminism, is grossly misunderstood.

    A so-called militant Atheist is NOT the same, nor even close, as is a religious militant.

    For example, militant religious zealots kill those who disagree or are violent in response to those who do not believe. The misnomer that is called a militant Atheist in comparison is simply an Atheist that is rather passionately outspoken about their non-belief in the religion – but does not go around killing nor being violent against those who believe in religion.

    Apples to Orange comparison does not make an apples to apples… cheers!

  • I think pakistan should try to return to its south east asian roots rather than force align itself with Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations. We are not Arabs and shall never be, however hard we force ourselves to be. Religion and our so called tehzeeb has shackled us from progressing. We let USA rule us for major part of the last century and now we are letting China do it. I dont understand this sudden affinity for the Chinese when we all know that they are nothing but problem. I talk to people and they act as if China is our best friend. Time to wake up people and return to our real roots.

  • How did Salman Rushdie end up here? I don’t know much about his political statements but I think he is one beautiful writer.

  • Whatever you do, we can do better – India. See now even we have our own Shri Ram Sena attacking girls in pubs 🙂

  • I agree with Madiha, Salman Rushdie is hardly a Voltaire. He is a good writer and stands out amongst desi writers because no one from this part of the world does magical realism as well as Rushdie does, nor does anyone do it with Rushdie’s flair and sense of humor (loved the title of Virgin Ironpants bestowed by Rishdie to Benazeer Bhutto in Shame), but he ain’t no philosopher.

  • Tazeen –

    I have been following this story through your blog and other news sites. Positively frightening.

    Thanks for your continued attention to this ongoing tragedy.

  • @ Zoobee –

    “I blame America for this – cuz before America showed up in Afghanistan – Swat was just fine… really, I kid you not. Now, if you disagree with me then you are perhaps an agent of the jews or CIA”

    An agent of the Jews? Are you kidding?! Is that the sort of attitude that will help solve issues? Blaming Jews?!? Hateful prejudice is never helpful, regardless of towards whom it is directed.

  • i love how we switched to blaming the US, and discussing the demerits of Rushdie the philosopher.

    perhaps that it what can best explain to the commenter who asked why pakistanis are not rioting on the streets to protest this.

    because we have all buried our heads under the sand and are hoping this will go away without us having to do anything.

  • Khatmal and Liam,

    Zoobee here was playing the Devil’s Advocate. He of course is not blaming jews or anyone for that matter for the fiasco of Swat. If there is anyone to be blamed, it is the successive governments of Pervez Musharraf and Asif Zardari


    You start the protest, i will sure as hell follow you. I also promise to twist the arms of a few people and get them on the streets.

  • @ Tazeen –

    Thanks for clarifying. Much appreciated.

  • sigh. swat really is paradise lost. hard to imagine this little haven turning in a militia controlled hell..

  • Liam – yes I was kidding – my next post should have been a clue – Tez, thanks for clarifying my rather twit-like sense of humor!



  • FYI – I live in America – given that I have lived longer in the US than I have in Pakistan, I consider myself more of an American than a Pakistani. Having said that, I am equally proud to be both an American and a Pakistani. Since my political awakening began just as ZAB was busy gambling Pakistani consciousness to the Mullahs in effort to secure his political future, I find it very interesting to read what the Zia generation (twenty somethings) has to say about all things Pakistan. What I find fascinating though is that how ignorant most people are to what is it that Pakistan was before the arrival of Allah-brigade (Zia’s Islamization)…



  • “A so-called militant Atheist is NOT the same, nor even close, as is a religious militant”

    Well, yes, definitely not the same in terms of their actions and self-expression. BUT: This discussion being originally focused on who can bring any kind of lasting positive change in a dangerously unhinged society, both kinds of people are pretty useless. You don’t bring much if you don’t bring balance and moderation to the table; the live and let live argument is the best thing about a truly progressive society. But both of the above mindsets have too much emotional stake, too much self-important and unflinching certainty in their beliefs–whatever they may be–to live and let live (Again, I don’t disagree with you on the differences in their manifestations. One is infinitely more stupid than the other).

    And henceforth, everybody on the deep end needs to chill out a little.

    (And since I am now about to launch into my make-marijuana-legal-to-bring-world-peace argument here, I am quietly going to shift to the Imran Khan bashing going on elsewhere:)

  • The taliban are there since last twenty years. We ,that is the Pakistan army gave them ample support,time ,money,training and almost everything. now we just want them to fade away like abad nightmare. And in comes Rahman Malick,oh such an impresive oratr with a so scary drastic style,I was trembling by his geedar bhapkian. All these guys are almost running the HUM SUB UMMEED SAY HAIN show in realty,so tvish,plasticised. So i was talking about taliban, almost like saying AllHamdo…They are only trained for fighting and martyrdom..Listen to the 72 hooraen hadith!Azzams essays or lectures ,pre 9/11 Afghan taliban/militant trainig manuals,These guys are prepared for shahadat.Taht is the only solution. But the P army cannot do this . Who will, guess!

  • I dunno.. they probably gathered themselves, but then again, maybe there is a cimpulsion to be present?
    Like MQM Jalsa’s in Karachi – they do gather NICs of the halqa residents and ask them to get em back at teh Jalsagah!

  • @ ibteda

    Ahh from where you heard that news ?

    MQM don’t need to gather anyone NIC people throng to MQM jalsas as it is the single largest Party of Urban Sindh,

    @ Tazeen

    Nice post

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