Pakistan has caved in to terror: Editorial

April 18th, 2009 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, April 18 (IANS) The imposition of Sharia laws in parts of Pakistan’s restive northwest and the release of a Taliban-linked cleric is “evidence” that the government has “caved in” to terror, an editorial in a leading English daily said Saturday.
A commentary in another newspaper said “fighting back” was difficult because Pakistan had not been able to develop a consensus on the alternative to fundamentalism.

The release of Maulana Abdul Aziz of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid “could not have come at a worse time”, The News said, adding: “The recently signed Nizam-e-Adl (Sharia regulation) in Swat has been widely interpreted as evidence that the government has caved in to terror.”

The editorial was headlined “The red peril?”

“Fighting back is difficult because we have never developed a consensus on an alternative. Jinnah’s Pakistan versus Ziaul Haq’s Pakistan - having never quite figured out what we want to be, we now face the very possibility that the Taliban may decide for us,” a commentary in Dawn said.

It was headlined “Cowering before the Taliban”.

The News said the fact that Aziz, who was captured 21 months ago while trying to sneak out of the mosque in a burqa “will now be heading its affairs once more adds to the suspicions of complete capitulation”.

Aziz, released on bail on Supreme Court orders, has said he will not seek revenge, but “this is no reassurance”, the editorial maintained.

Aziz was taken from jail to Lal Masjid by a bevy of supporters “shouting slogans of martyrdom” and “this too suggests the old passions that led to students armed with sticks emerging from madrassas housed at the masjid and attempting to impose their own brand of morality on Islamabad live on”, the editorial contended.

Noting that over the past few weeks “there has been continued speculation that Islamabad could become the next target for militants”, The News said the “possibility” of militants “driving through” the capital “waving guns is one we are today forced to contemplate.

“The fact that a man such as Abdul Aziz has walked out of jail, to a hero’s welcome, underscores why this is the case. Our failure to tackle militancy means the threat posed by it grows every minute.

“Will we be able to turn it back before it is too late? That is the question now on every mind,” the editorial maintained.

“Quite obviously,” it said the “conquest” of the capital would be “a spectacular gain on their part.

“Within security circles too, there are those who hint that a threat may indeed exist - if not immediately than in the not too distant future,” the editorial pointed out.

Dawn was equally harsh in its criticism of the manner in which the government was functioning.

“In this wretched, unfortunate land, anger and despair have been wasted emotions. After all, while we may never have known how to fix things, at least we could be relatively sure that they wouldn’t get much worse.

“But as things begin to fall apart, the assumptions of yore are crumbling before our eyes. And the good and the great - the few that there are - are on the retreat.

“Many have written of their horror at the pact with the butchers of Swat, the grotesqueness of signing a Sharia deal with men who stand outside the pale of any religion,” Dawn noted.

Pointing to the almost non-existent voices that were raised when the National Assembly debated and passed the Sharia bill Monday, Dawn said: “It’s all very carefully calibrated. Cause minimal offence, upset no sensibilities, avoid stepping on toes.

“Can no one in this country stand up and say this: we do not want to live in a society where a man, woman or animal is flogged, where anyone’s limb is hacked off, where anyone is stoned. Period.

“It doesn’t matter who is demanding it or why. Be it the purest of hearts or the most evil of men; be it with the best of intentions or the worst,” the commentary maintained.

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