Identity, Equality, Unity
Terrorism and Taliban winning over Tourism in Pakistan
BY AGHA IQRAR HAROON ,ETN PAKISTAN
Islamabad: It looks terrorism is again winning over Tourism in Pakistan and the most beautiful and peaceful valley of Pakistan that is Gilgit-Baltistan is now not far away from the control of Taliban mindset or Taliban supporters if government of Pakistan and Armed forces again followed the same old policy that they followed before Fall of Swat to militants.
This policy of Pakistan we can call “Hiding all facts under the carpet of Afghan Policy”. Both power players–the federal government and the Pakistan Army did not accept that Talibans were gaining grounds in Swat till such time when Talibans started massacre of Pakistan Army officials and burnt down government buildings. Now in Gilgit, again government is not ready to see whether
Taliban are really present in the valley as claimed by local people. Local people of Gilgit also claim that religious schools like in Swat have Afghan students who have alleged training of fighting against regular forces.
Sectarian riots that have been seen in Gilgit from time to time from same time when one of Taliban teacher Mullah Sufi Muhammad announced Islamic Law (Sharia) in Swat valley way back year 1995-96.
Pakistan government claimed that there is no sectarian riots while Inspector General of Police of Gilgit-Baltistan confirmed that recent wave of killing was a part of sectarian riots and Inspector General (IG) Hussain Asghar has denied any foreign involvement in the recent strain of violence in the region, which has claimed around 20 lives.
IG maintained that few job opportunities and a high literacy rate among the resident youth was fueling dissatisfaction and was feeding the rise in sectarianism.
Talking about the 32 people held hostage in the Nagar area (following the killing of passengers of a Gilgit bound bus near militant dominated town of Chilas on Karakuram Highway) by a protesting mob, the IG said efforts were still underway to recover them safely. He added that he was sure they would not be harmed considering the people of Nagar had no prior record of harming people. The IG dispelled impressions that a major military operation had been launched in the city.
“We have imposed curfew to normalise the situation and avoiding further riots,” he maintained. He claimed the situation was now under control and heading towards normalcy, especially since both political and religious leaders made efforts to placate the masses.
Eyewitnesses confirmed that members of a religious political party that has indirectly linked with Talibans were seen in riots. Local people of Gilgit claimed criminals who had been stopping buses and killing people of a particular sect are actually Talibans but government is denying the fact because same people are needed by Pakistan government for its Afghan policy.
Local people also claim that banned Tanzeem Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jammat that has alleged links with Talibans is harbouring Afghans students in different religious schools (Madarisa) in Gilgit and forces raided the Jamia Nusratul Islam, located in Konodas, and took 14 persons into custody because they reported were without national identity cards and looked like Afghans because they could not talk in Urdu or local languages and only understood Pushto that is most spoken language among Afghanis and people of Khyber Pakhtun KHawa that is hub of Taliban activities. A source from within the Jamia claimed on phone that the arrested students were below 18 years of age.
It may be mentioned that beautiful and scenic Swat Valley bowed down to terrorists and became a battleground between Taliban militants and the Pakistani army in past and in whole Swat crises, Pakistan Army and the than government were not ready to accept that Talibans had controlled the valley unless Talibans started massacring officials of
Pakistan Army. Pakistan Government became so much under pressure that it had to have a Peace Agreement with those who were killing children, bombing schools and burning down government buildings. In 2009 Swat became a battleground for militants of Pakistan’s Taliban and the secular Pakistani government. The Pakistani Army has estimated that a force of about 4,000 militants took advantage of a peace agreement in northwestern Pakistan in February 2009 to seize control of much of Swat.
Launched in May 2009, the ensuing campaign represented a new resolve and what appeared to be a change of heart in the Pakistani Army, which had supported the militants for many years. More than 30,000 troops,assisted by airstrikes by the Pakistani Air Force, engaged in a battle to retake the valley.
The Taliban, however, mostly melted away without a major fight as they did in Afghanistan when Allied NATO forces took over the charge of Afghanistan after 9/11 event. About two million people were displaced in Swat and the surrounding area during the offensive, moving into camps. A new terminology was adopted by international forces and agencies and these people were called Internally Displaced People (IDP).
At the end of July 2009 the Pakistani police announced the arrest of a pro-Taliban cleric, Maulana Sufi Muhammad, who brokered a peace deal between the government and militants in Swat that has since faltered.
He was arrested for encouraging violence and terrorism. Sufi Muhammad is father-in-law of Maulana Fazlullah, the Taliban leader in the area, negotiated a truce with the government in February that imposed Shariah, or Islamic law, in the valley in exchange for an end to two years of fighting.
It looks situation is building up in Gilgit in same way but a little difference and this difference is creating sectarian clashes. In Swat, there was one sect who accepted Islam of Taliban but in Gilgit Baltistan majority of population is from another sect that does not accept purist Islamic concept projected by Talibans and that situation is an impediment for Talibans to control the Gilgit valley as easy as they did it in Swat.
Source: eTN Islamabad