The Fall of Peshawar
Today I read upsetting news that the militants torched down a motel, meteorological office and also damaged chair lift in Malam Jabba. Malam Jabba is the only ski resort of Pakistan. They are on rampage, destroying public property. I thought the NWFP government had struck a peace deal with them. But still such acts have been happening.
Below is the editorial published in The News on 26th of June. I hope it’s all false and wrong like always.
State of siege
Thursday, June 26, 2008
The report that the historic town of Peshawar could fall to militants is obviously terrifying. Worse still, it seems that despite meetings between the chief minister, top military officers stationed in the city and the adviser on interior, no one is ready to defend the city against a possible onslaught by the militant militias that stand ranged all around it. The foray by forces who took away 16 Christians recently from a locality in the heart of the city shows just how vulnerable it is. It is believed that militants, who have scored a series of victories in operations across the northern areas, may just make an attempt to seize Peshawar. The fall of the city, analysts believe, will bring other districts across the NWFP toppling down before militants as well. The resurgence of these forces is evident everywhere. After several weeks of calm, conflict between security troops and the local Taliban has been reported from Swat, where ten people have been killed. Indeed, each day stories come in of new aggression and new acts of brutality by these crazed men who wield automatic weapons and believe that Islam means burning down schools, attacking video shops or beheading people they suspect of collusion with the government.
The extent to which Peshawar, the once peaceful entry point to the northern areas, has changed over the last decade or so is also terrifying. Music, once integral to the culture of the city, has been banned. Folk artistes have been forced into penury, shops selling instruments destroyed. Women on some campuses have been forced into veils; many fear leaving their houses unescorted; schools for girls have been threatened and the relaxed traditions of bazaars where people sipped their tea in the many ‘chai houses’ dotted across them has given way to one of suspicion and anger.
The threat to Peshawar of course exposes the ineptness of government policy. Under Musharraf’s ‘enlightened moderation’, even as the US declared him a key ally against terror, militancy grew everywhere. The new government has failed, despite some efforts, to do very much about it. Things in the FATA areas appear to be tumbling out of control – and the possibility of Taliban forces driving through Peshawar in trucks now stares us in the face. There is, quite obviously, no time to lose. If militancy is to be defeated, the strategies to do so must be put in place now. There is no space left to fumble or to ponder, and as a first step, a plan to defend Peshawar must be devised immediately before it is too late to prevent the frenzied armies of extremists marching in on the city.