Plus ça change

Fear in the Swat valley

A spate of violence always causes panic in any population, but for the people of Swat in particular and the Malakand Division in general, it triggers some rather recent memories. Those idyllic locales, made even more beautiful by the wall-to-wall smiles of the friendly locals, had turned into a dystopian nightmare not too long ago when the TTP and the TNSM had taken control of the valley and imposed their violent, reactionary interpretation of the faith in place of the law of the land.

Though the people of Swat held a protest just the other day, these protests have been taking place since some time now. Our national news media, with its three-city model, doesn’t cover the law and order situation of metropolitan cities like Peshawar, what to speak of peripheries like Swat.

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Politicians of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf have taken to releasing video messages cautioning the rest of the country about the rising threat of militancy. However, the sheer chutzpah of Swat MNA Murad Saeed Khan speaking out about the same is undeniable. Fellow MNA Mohsin Dawar, during each of the few times the previous speaker gave him the microphone on the floor of the house, consistently warned against the regrouping of the Taliban in the north. Though the PTI legislators, by and large, ignored these pleas, Murad Saeed Khan was one of the few who angrily denied these allegations and, in fact, took to personal attacks against the PTM leader.

It is all well and good for the provincial government to be blamed for the current crisis unfolding in Swat; they have been running the provincial government for longer than any other individual party’s stints put together, and law and order is a provincial subject. But the peculiar nature of this violence isn’t the sort that was caused by police inaction. This is something for the military to have taken care of. The latter has let the situation come to this pass again. Are we to see another sham Rah-e-Haq, followed by a hamfisted Rah-e-Raast?

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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