The Pakistan army "deal" with the Taliban in Swat Valley.

NO, a single state religion be it the Church of England or Eastern Orthodox, or Wahabi Islam or Shintoism does not automatically lead to extremist elements taking over a country...............there are other sometimes more complex factors which allow extremist religious elements taking over a country, and they are usually always to do with politics, and the lust for power, and not so much to do with religious fervor.

Single-faith nation is an open invitation to Taliban.

By MJ Akbar, Columnist for the Times of India.

Breast-beating has its dangers. You could lacerate yourself while the assassin laughs all the way to the graveyard. The international lamentation over the negotiated surrender of Swat in Pakistan to what might broadly be called the Taliban is high on moaning and low on illumination.

(Blogger---Yes the news from that area is highly managed by Pak authorities, so we really don't know what is going on, except that one Geo journalist, not liberal by any means was killed presumably by the Taliban to warn off other journo's from Pakistan venturing into that area and asking too many questions.............but yes, on the whole the "peace deal' has been correctly condemned for differing reasons around the world. It does not make sense why the Pakistan authorities should make peace with the Taliban, on their terms {establishing Sharia law} in Pakistan proper, so close to Peshawar, Taxila/Wah (where strategic munition works are located) and Islamabad. FATA is a different matter.

One hears from the media that the Pakistan central govenment gave the Swat Taliban money to buy peace....which sounds ridiclous; I mean is the Pakistan government proposing throwing scarce central funds at the Taliban each time they press the Pakistan government militarily----sets a bad precedent doesn't it?

Why do so many TTP hide their faces when the media is around. I mean if you are TTP, willing to die for your cause, surely you would be proud to show your young manly face to the Pakistani and international public, ................unless a lot of them happen to be regular Pakistani military personnel as well.

The Pakistan Foreign Secretary made a Freudian slip when he said no al-Qaeda would be allowed into Swat..........so I suppose the news item from Swat will be in about a month that the al-Qaeda have started concentrating in the "Safe Haven" of Swat.........Mashallah! Will the "Pakistan government" allow the Americans to attack Swat with drone attacks from the Pakistani bases in Baluchistan......maybe the Americans mistake Peshawar for Swat, or how about Taxila or Wah or even Islamabad..........why not Yaar? The Americans attack Islamabad thinking it was Swat......)

There is a symmetrical irony. Benazir Bhutto handed over Afghanistan to the Taliban. Her husband Asif Zardari might have laid the foundation stone of Talibanistan inside Pakistan by accepting Sufi Mohammad's Tehrik-e-Nifz-e-Shariat Mohammadi as the law for the former princely state of Swat. This demand was first heard in November 1994, the month in which Kandahar fell to the Taliban.

( There is no irony, only stupidity and a general desire to please the Americans that led "liberal" Benazir Bhutto, brought up in the exclusive champagne circuit of Oxbridge and later Harvard?, who should openly back the medieval Taliban from 1994. The Clinton administration initiated the idea; the Arab Gulf funded it; the Pak military made it into a reality...........so your assertion, "Benazir Bhutto handed over Afghanistan to the Taliban" is short on detail and does not explain why she officially as PM OK'ed the idea in the first place. As to her husband, one should have limited expectations from Mr. 10%, or possibly Mr. 100% by now....as he gets richer the Pakistan economy must naturally falter........he is an out and out criminal who has done prison time, with a gangster mentality......does the guy have any education, or any sense of public duty? In all events was the Swat Peace deal the work of Zardari (unlikely), or the outcome of the army, and Zardari merely nodded to the idea?)

Many questions demand answers. The Pakistani army has an estimated strength of 12,000 in the region of Swat. Why was it unable, or unwilling, to subdue an insurgent force of some 3,000? The Pakistani army is not a pushover. Why was it pushed over in Swat? Is the Pakistani soldier increasingly unwilling to confront an ideology it implicitly sympathises with? How much of such sympathy is shared by the middle-ranking officer, who entered the force during the seminal leadership of General Zia ul Haq? To what extent has Ziaism become the secret doctrine of sections of the Pakistani forces?

(unofficially the Pakistan military number closer to 800,000, and paramilitary forces of 300,000.......so why should such a huge military machine have any problems dealing with 3,000 AK-47 armed Taliban who are very poorly trained by modern military standards, poorly led, poorly organized, poor tactics, poor logistics; they can simply be surrounded and squeezed with just 30,000 men...and so on?

The Taliban in Swat could have been easily dealt with, using heavy artillery, mortar, helicopters and jet fighters, backed by more troops. MJ Akbar says a lack of will by the rank and file........I think that's a misrepresentation of the Pakistan military, simply because of the culture of the Pakistan military is rooted in the British Raj {I derisively refer to it as the RAJ PUNJAB POLICE FORCE......in terms of how it fights, and against whom it engages against in its bloodiest wars},

In 1971 the Pak military had no problems killing 3,000,000 East Pakistanis backed by mass rape; there were no Islamic sense of justice present back then which might have created mass mutiny in the ranks of the Pakistan army, and the specter of killing essentially fellow Muslims. There was no Mutiny in the ranks when the Pakistan military engaged in a bitter counter insurgency operation in Baluchistan 1973---1977, that possibly killed 100,000 people. There was no Mutiny in the ranks when the then Brigadier Zia Ul Haq organized the military campaign to squash the Palestinian uprising in Jordan in 1970. Ditto anti-insurgency ops in Oman, and the reason why Saudi Arabia keeps a good number of Pakistani troops in sacred Saudi soil to ostensibly protect the Saudi Royal family.........So MJ Akbar the Pak military generally obeys its officers, and do not have any record of mutinying against the officers, senior top brass or junior.

Clearly something else must explain the peculiar peace deal in such a sensitive area, so close to Islamabad. And we can speculate. That's what blogs are for!


1. The Pakistan Taliban (TTP) is a tool of the Pakistan military, who originally created the Taliban, and the current Taliban "upsurge" in inverted commas is an initiative by the Pak military to get back into power, by threatening the civilian government of Asif Zardari, by stationing the Taliban so close to Islamabad..........OR put it another way, the country is in chaos, and what we need is another strong military government to bring order.


2. The Pakistan Taliban is there mainly to destabilize Pakistan for America, so that America can say that Pakistan is a HAVEN for terrorists, and that the country will soon be run by Islamic fundamentalists who will one day control the country's nuclear bombs.......so be very scared children cus Uncle Sam might have to save the world again, and invade the country in the future. This scenario would mean that Kiyani Chief of Armed Forces and Suja Pasha head of ISI are working for America against Pakistan's interests, because to maneuver the Taliban into the present situation which the Taliban enjoys within Pakistan---legitimacy and status where they have negotiated and won on equal terms with the Pakistan military, ........would require extensive Pakistan military backing, especially from the top brass for such an occurrence/nonsense.)

What price will Pakistan's polity pay as the last civilian hope degenerates into a national heartbreak? The legacy of Benazir, the charismatic romantic, has been usurped by a semi-literate authoritarian who has seized executive power through a virtual coup against his own government. Zardari was elected to a ceremonial office, not an executive one. His principal achievement so far has been to make the era of Pervez Musharraf seem like a golden age. If she had been in charge, Benazir may have been able to mobilise her country's youth by lifting the economy and offering a liberal horizon. Zardari's ineffectual rule, wafting along compromise and mismanagement, can only create the space for a theocratic impulse that has been waiting to find its moment ever since Pakistan was born. Musharraf doubled the GDP of an insecure economy. Under Zardari, Pakistan is dwindling into a "basket case", a term Henry Kissinger coined for the eastern half of united Pakistan. While Bangladesh is leaving that stigma behind, Pakistan is entering the vortex of the begging bowl.

( Zardari is incompetent and that is universally excepted, in fact the talk in Islamabad is the sheer indecision and lack of government/governance in Islamabad.........the man is corrupt, incompetent, but he lusts after power because that is an easy avenue to make himself rich. That is why the Pakistan military like him.....to them it does not matter that Zardari is destroying the country, at a critical time in history; what matters to them is that ordinary Pakistanis have yet another poor civilian government under their experience viz the Pakistan military)

Military chaos opened the door for the Taliban in Kabul. Could economic chaos open the door in Islamabad? Has Pakistan begun to realise that faith-based nationalism is not synonymous with peace?

(Pakistan's military backing and personnel guidance helped the Taliban gain ascendancy in Afghanistan, with covert backing from America. Then ask yourself why would that would be? Who gains? The Taliban is essentially a Pashtun organization, and since they represent only 15% of the overall Pakistani population ethnically, normally and logically it will be difficult for the Taliban to appeal to the rest of the Pakistani population. Pashtuns are generally more puritanically Islam wise due to their socio-economic background and levels of literacy. On the other hand the rest of Pakistan is more mystical in terms of relating to Islam.....Sufis, Pirs etc....so again hard to see how economic hardship simply flips a whole complex society with their Millennial old beliefs so quickly, unless hostile external entities such as the USA, working with the Pakistan military create such a situation...........IRAN 1979)

The Frontier and North Punjab (I disagree that the Punjab, Kasab not withstanding, is a hotbed of Talibanism, any part of it....but obviously you have got your individual fruit cakes....for me the Taliban is an ethnic phenomenon, NOT a religious phenomenon that cuts across and appeals to a wide section of Pakistani society), the principal catchment areas of the Taliban, have had a Muslim majority for perhaps a thousand years. (The Pashtuns were ardent Hindus once, a mere 1000 years ago-----they are directly related to fair skinned Brahmins, Jats, Rajputs, Gujjars..........and so on) It is not widely known that Mahmud of Ghazni's territories extended to what is roughly the line of the Indo-Pak border today. (This fact is not lost on terrorists who want to use Pakistan as a base from which to launch assaults on the heart of India..........................rather a general comment that justifies all so called Islamic terrorism in India? I doubt Kasab imagined himself as Mahmud of Ghazni...a Turk from Central Asia) But this area was never a single-faith entity. Hindus and later Sikhs created, along with Muslims, a dynamic shared culture that blossomed through partnership. The presence of the other also became an antidote to puritanism of any hue.

(FULLY on board and agreed that "we" are stronger and better together as a people living in South Asia with our differences.....that is what makes South Asia GREAT........I therefore deplore the politics of the Taliban, even if its a tool of USA imperialism...those who participate in it should know better. I Fully applaud the secular nature of India, and hope MF Hussian can come back to India and live peacefully there again, soon)

The region was ruled successively by Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. No ruler, not even Ghazni, drove Hindus and Sikhs out. It was only after 1947 that the region became a single-faith hegemony, and from that point a breeding ground for theocratic militancy.

(1947 and the sad occurrences of that event was unique. To be sure Muslim armies fought Hindu armies led by their respective Rajas, but the full extent of the demographic shift, isolation from Partition for ordinary civilians, and the ensuing dogma in Pakistan especially after 1965, and later under Zia ul Haq never existed between ordinary people in South Asia before.

Pakistan was the megalomaniac creation of Mohammed Jinnah, who knew he would not last very long to fully see his dream being created, but through his egotism he persisted in creating the moth eaten failed state, with the active backing of the British..........It started in 1940 when the Muslim league drafted a constitution, and from there developed a grass roots organisation for the first time (before that specific date it was a talking shop for privileged Muslim nobility and notables wholly disconnected with the Muslim masses) As the Muslim League developed, the majority of the top echelon of the Congress were locked up from 1942, with the "Quit India" Movement. The Muslim League thus with covert British Raj guidance became a legitimate force in Indian politics, which could articulate its position with mass appeal............for me all this could not have been done by Jinnah himself or his close cadres like Laiqat Ali Khan, in such a short time (1940--1946). That there must have been some sort of institutional backing from Britain to translate the Muslim League into a reasoably cohesive force by 1946, to the point where Jinnah was negotiating quite confidently with Gandhi and Nehru.

Jinnah was an excellent Barrister, and thus a good speaker, but a political genius like Gandhi, with his vision? I never thought so. He was a stiff starched plodder, not given to inspiration, as most natural freedom leaders of that era. Thus to me he was a functionary for the British Raj, who played out his role to the end.

The British official files related to independence and Partition, and the creation of Pakistan will be released in the year 2022, the longest release date for British state papers. Normally they are released within 30 years. They must contain controversial information for them to be released at such a late date. Obviously when they are released they will be sanitized for public consumption, but one speculates whether Jinnah was a British agent. All those long years in Billaat, London, during the critical years of the independence movement; His penchant for ham sandwiches, and alcohol; his speeches to his Muslim audiences in immaculate Oxbridge English mostly; his deference to British Raj law, and the need to avoid any sanction, in contrast to the many occasions when Congress leaders were imprisoned by the Raj, in the course of serving the greater cause.

His general demeanor of a man who was quite cold and reserved, who showed no overt fondness for Muslims. ....Do we have any pictures of him mixing with the illiterate Garib Muslim masses from the 1920's through to the 1940's, smiling and relishing the moment and opportunity to fulfil his mission for his people? We have plenty of those for Gandhi and Nehru, and they are genuine. Do we have any pictures of him praying at a Mosque with his fellow Muslim congregation?

This is the man who founded the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ......descendants of Brahmin Hindus from Gujarat. )

The power of a minority is rarely acknowledged by those who seek to turn it into an enemy. A minority is the yeast that enables the national flour to rise. Hindus and Sikhs were the yeast of the North West Frontier and Pakistani Punjab just as much as Indian Muslims are the yeast of Hindu-majority India. Their existence was a daily lesson in co-existence. Their absence has shifted the gears of social evolution and driven the people into rancid and arid territory.

(Rather a convoluted way of arguing the truism that an open plural society, which is democratic, with free speech and liberal in outlook has a better chance of improving the lives of ALL its people, rather than a closed dictatorial authoritarian society ruled by people who think they know everything and have the answers for everything, under one predominating dogmatic guiding state religion)

Will the answers be more optimistic than the questions? That too remains a question.