ISLAMABAD, May 10 As the National Assembly begins a special session on Monday, the government seems set to win the first parliamentary approval for a renewed war against barbaric rebels in the country's northwest after the failure of a controversial peace deal.
A debate on the new full-scale military operation, mainly in Swat valley of Malakand division of the NWFP, will be the highlight of the hurriedly-called session, which government sources hoped, would reflect a new wave of awakening about dangers posed to the country by Taliban militants.
The lower house, due to meet at 5pm after only 13 days' break, will go straight into a discussion on the latest situation in Swat and four other troubled districts of the Malakand division after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ordered what he called a decisive action against “terrorists and extremists” for dishonouring their peace agreement with the NWFP government in exchange for the enforcement of a fast-track Sharia Nizam-i-Adl, or justice, regulation.
A parliamentary source said the PPP-led coalition government, which said the new military action was making good progress though entailing large-scale displacement of population, was likely to move a resolution in the house to endorse the war effort, so soon after its April 13 approval of the peace deal by recommending to President Asif Ali Zardari to authorise the enforcement of the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation.
A session of the Senate, the source said, might also be called later to seek a similar endorsement, that could give the 13-month-old government a big political boost after suffering a great loss of credibility due to broken promises over the restoration of deposed judges and imposition of governor's rule in the Punjab province — although both irritants were rectified later under new compulsions.
The new situation has developed while President Zardari is on a visit to the United States that is marked by Washingtons new financial commitments to help Pakistan tide over its economic problems and fight terrorism.
Pakistan's key role in the US-led so-called “war against terrorism”, launched after Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, has been bitterly criticised in parliament during both the previous military-led regime and the present government's more than 13 months in office, although the opposition parties, which changed roles after the Feb 18, 2008 general election, failed to force a policy change. Neither government ever attempted to get a parliamentary vote on the issue.
But the situation seems to have changed now after the Swat militants apparently shot themselves in the foot by going back on their commitment on the peace deal even after their main demand for the Sharia regulation was met, virtually rejecting Pakistan's Constitution and its superior courts and continuing barbaric killings and other activities to enforce their own brand of Sharia that only caused revulsion at home and abroad.
While most mainstream parties have already supported the latest military action in Malakand, political sources wondered whether some religious parties known for a soft corner for the Taliban would find it advisable to oppose it in parliament.
A new national outcry against militancy seems to have even overshadowed complaints of violations of Pakistans sovereignty by anti-militant missile strikes into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas by unmanned US drones.