Price of peace

07 Oct 2011


The new nexus is now complete: while the US, Afghanistan and India will fight the Taliban, Pakistan would look for making peace with the Islamist militants. Following last week’s courageous overtures made to the militants by the All Parties Conference in Islamabad, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, the killer of Benazir Bhutto and thousands of nameless Pakistanis and the terror outfit that works closely with al Qaeda and blows up shrines and schools, has responded positively to Pakistan’s ruling elite’s proposal, but with only two conditions.

These are: sever relations with the US and enforce Sharia laws (of the kind that only they would dictate). The same Sharia laws which allow rich Raymond Davises of the world to pay blood money and walk free after committing murder in cold blood, or let the victims of rape languish in jail for want of evidence to prove the assault while the perpetrator walks free. Besides, we know what else they entail: flogging young girls in the street for stepping out of the house; shutting down girls’ schools; blowing up shrines; taking cable TV off the air; banning all performing and visual arts; training militias to wage jihad to reclaim Kabul and Delhi, besides Kashmir, of course, and hopefully planning a new assault on America.

Pakistan now seems to be creating a strategic depth it sought in Afghanistan in its own homeland proper. Way to go! What India has been accusing us of doing to ourselves and the world is now confirmed and endorsed by Pakistan’s politicians and the civil-military establishment. We’re finally at peace with the terrorists and can’t wait to call them to the mainstream.

We’ve been talked and walked into this under the very nose of the ISI, the government and the brave, emerging popular leaders like Imran Khan. Who needs a Maududi anymore, you may ask? On the flip side, who needs Jinnah and his minorities and the women whom he had assured of equal rights? Pakistan’s plunge into Talibanisation is a willing journey into a bottomless pit, where the nation will reside happily ever after with its mighty nuclear arsenal intact and in safe hands. What a vision.

And pray who will be our strategic partners in this holy endeavour? The great People’s Republic to the north and the Islamic Republic to the west? Not a fat chance because neither is as suicidal as we may be deluded to believe. Keep messing up in Xinjiang and keep killing the Shia Hazaras as an article of faith and you’ll see how the two great friends will also leave you to your own devices.

Ironically, democratic Pakistan today is dangerously set to embark on an isolation plan that will be the envy of the nutcases running North Koreas and Myanmars of the world, that is, if Imran Khan’s great vision of making peace with the Taliban is to prevail. Even Hamid Gul sounded cautious and worried on TV the other day after seeing the consensus behind closed doors in Islamabad. That was not what even the hawkish likes of him sought for Pakistan, which is now in Hamid Karzai’s ominous words, a twin sibling to his Afghanistan. President Zardari confirmed the sibling rivalry by decrying the fact on The Washington Post’s Op-Ed the other day by complaining that America gave more money to Kabul than it ever did to Islamabad.

Meanwhile Obama seems to be in no mood to listen, and has repeated the same mantra of ‘do more’ to contain the dirty Haqqanis in Afghanistan. Where in this new emerging order of things does Pakistan fit today, you may well ask? A quick glimpse into our obsessive compulsive streak in matters worldly and other worldly came on Thursday as the Supreme Court announced its judgment on the Karachi killings and the law and order case, which it had taken up in public interest. The learned chief justice started off by saying that Islam takes a very serious view of a killing. Pray, tell, which religion or legal system in the world does not?

Yet, we know it is not the fear of Allah that deters people from killing fellow human beings: Iraq and Afghanistan are shining examples of people killing one another in the name of God. Pakistan does not lag too far behind, where the killing of Shia Hazaras and Ahmadis comes as an article of faith to those with whom the state now wants to make peace.

Can peace ever be built on the debris of justice; with or without God being part of the equation?       

The writer is a member of the staff at Dawn Newspaper.