International community shall play a major role in “Pakistans BadlandsNovember 26th, 2007 - 6:55 pm ICT by admin
Washington, Nov 26 (ANI): The international community should play a major role in streamlining the MMA and improving the situation the North West Frontier Province and the tribal areas universally known as “Pakistans Badlands,” says Joshua White, who spent a year in Peshawar researching the MMA and situation in the NWFP.
He said that the MMA is not just made up of those who believe in good Islamic values: its constituents are political actors. If externed from the body politic, it will be laid open to radicalisation, he pointed out.
White said that the ground realities in the NWFP have changed, which had pushed the MMA from the right to the centre of the political spectrum, a shift the militants saw as a sell-out.
Fidel Castro once said that the worst enemies of a revolutionary movement are the promises it makes before coming to power. The MMA realised that soon after taking power, a point Whites study brought out clearly.
He said the MMA is anathema to the militants. MMA cadres at lower levels may have linkages to the Taliban but the higher levels of leadership have no truck with the militants who continue to threaten them.
White also spoke about the rise of “entrepreneurial insurgency” groups or individuals who operate on their own and who should not be equated with the MMA.
He felt that if the MMA is liquidated or undermined, the federal authority might lose its “centrist Islamic interlocutors”.
White took a detached look at the MMA government in the NWFP, and came to the conclusion that it had been highly accommodative of the international community and Western assistance agencies and groups.
The MMA negatives included charged rhetoric, inept governance, emphasis on single gender or separate education and a general apathy to the NGOs, he says.
White said people often lost sight of the fact that the MMA was not a single entity but an amalgam of six parties that differed in many respects. It was and will always remain an important player, even if marginally. When it came to power, it realised its limitations and with the passing of time, it moderated itself.
The people of the NWFP, White said, had developed a “healthy disillusionment” with religious governance. He said the MMA is not another name for the Taliban.
Turning to Swat, White noted that the rise of militancy in these areas is not new. A weak Benazir Bhutto government in 1994 made a compromise with Mullah Radios (Fazlullah) father-in-law.
White said that the present situation in Swat is not MMAs fault. He also stressed that there is no deep support for the Tanzim Nifaz-e-Shariat-e Muhammadi (TNSM) in the Swat Valley and if free and fair elections are held, the PPP and the ANP will make gains.
There is a long-standing jirga tradition in these areas, something that must not be lost sight of, he added.
The people do not want the military breathing down their necks. Justice under the traditional system is slow and often unavailable. A system that provides quick justice will appeal to the people.
He said the present situation in Swat developed over time and was repeatedly brought to the notice of the federal government that did nothing. When it moved, it brought in helicopter gunships.
White said the “blurring of the line” between the Frontiers tribal and settled areas is a cause for concern.
He also pointed out that the NWFP had been neglected by the government for the last few decades, and warned that if the present situation is allowed to continue, it will threaten both Pakistan and the US.
White poked fun at some of the US diplomats posted to Pakistan “who arrive there talking as if they had never left the US”.
They speak a language that ill-equips them for connecting with Pakistanis. He said it must be understood that religious movements are the major drivers of social change, but the US engagement with Pakistan has a narrow base.
The US, he suggested, should engage with the MMA and parties like the PPP and the ANP.
The “mainstreaming” of the Islamic movements will add to stability while not doing so will produce the opposite result.
White is also critical of the present US policy of putting money only into the tribal areas. “The NWFP should be treated as an integrated whole,” he advised.
White asks if the cowboy analogy were pursued, wouldnt General Pervez Musharraf be Billy the Kid?
White is a graduation student under Walter Andersen at the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University, which is considered the best South Asia programme in the US.
“The pity of it all is that those who make decisions about Pakistan and our region in Washington will pay no attention to this young and enterprising scholar. But those who bomb them from gunships and their local facilitators have no time for the Joshua Whites of the world,” says Khalid Hasan of the Daily Times. (ANI)
Tags: anathema, apathy, badlands, body politic, fidel castro, frontier province, ground realities, inept, international community, islamic values, joshua white, lost sight, militants, mma, north west frontier, nwfp, political actors, political spectrum, revolutionary movement, tribal areas