TERROR HAS A NEW MEANING IN PAKISTAN

3 05 2009

She was a teenage girl, barely 17. Clad in a dark blue burka and red salwar kameez, she was held down by two men, her face rubbing in the dirt. A third man in a black turban whippped her lower back more than 30 times in a minute and a half, while she kept screaming in her teenage voice out of terror and pain.

“Stop. It’s killing me.” “For God’s sake, stop,” she sobbed. “I swear on my father and grandmother I won’t do it again.”

She was a girl in remote Swat valley in Pakistan. Her fault was that she hosted a man in her house and slept with him, allegedly. No proofs or evidences were required. But Taliban pronounced its judgment and the girls, and thousand others were given an example of what `crossing a boundary’ would mean for women in the region.

Welcome to Taliban ruled Swat valley. Brutality has got a new meaning here. Not only Pakistan but entire world listened to her screams, probably a month after she underwent the cruel and humiliating punishment. But unfortunately this is probably only the beginning, dooms days might follow..

Swat was a garden of Ashoka and was prosperous land in the Buddhist time. It was a very peaceful place known for its beauty. If one sees Swat today, there is no sign of peace in the valley everything has been washed away. The people are living through the most miserable phase of its history. No doubt, the valley has witnessed invasions, turbulence and chaos from the time of Alexander’s invasion in 327 BC to the formation of Swat state in 1917 and now Taliban.

The provincial government agreed in February to let Islamists impose sharia law in Swat in exchange for peace. Critics said appeasement would only embolden the militants who aim to take over other areas. Pakistan’s Western allies fear pacts create safe havens for Taliban and al-Qa’ida fighters. And their fears are coming true as Taliban is out on street, all in the role of both judge and executioner.

One website quoted as saying, “Pakistan has admitted that it was compelled to ink a peace deal with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) because it faltered in its bid to counter the increasing extremism in the Swat Valley”.

Most of Pakistan’s 160 million people are conservative but moderate and most of them seem to shudder in fear looking at the heinous and relentless acts hardliners have started doing.

Swat was one of Pakistan’s main tourist destinations with mountain hikes, Buddhist ruins and skiing in the winter until a couple of years ago when militants infiltrated from enclaves on the Afghan border to support a radical cleric.

Militants attacked security forces and assassinated numerous opponents while banning girls from classes and destroying more than 200 schools. The military mounted offensives to push the militants out of the valley but they just slipped back when fighting eased.

Pakistani officials argue that many residents of the Swat Valley, which only became part of Pakistan in 1969, have long demanded Sharia law because of the weakness of the secular state judicial system.

It is also likely to reinforce fears that the militants are now using Swat, which is just 100 miles from the Pakistani capital, as a base to spread their ideology and launch terrorist attacks deeper within Pakistan. Probably this is what they call the quintessential `jungle raaj’, which is looking entire Pakistan in face.

One website quoted saying “Pakistan has admitted that it was compelled to ink a peace deal with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) because it faltered in its bid to counter the increasing extremism in the Swat Valley”.

Swat was a garden of Ashoka and was prosperous land in the Buddhist time. It was a very peaceful place known for its beauty. If one sees Swat today, there is no sign of peace in the valley everything has been washed away. The people are living through the most miserable phase of its history. No doubt, the valley has witnessed invasions, turbulence and chaos from the time of Alexander’s invasion in 327 BC to the formation of Swat state in 1917 and now Taliban.

Sumi and Saurabh Verma (manul)








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