The NY Times.com featured a really fantastic and powerful short documentary on the issue of female education in Swat Valley. The Times’ Adam Ellick and Irfan Ashraf profiled a Pakistani girl on the last day before the Taliban shut down her school, [click on the image below to watch the video].
At one point in the film, a female student, veiled to protect her identity, read a speech out loud:
The title of my speech is the situation in Swat. Swat Valley: the paradise on earth, is in the northwest of Pakistan. Swat Valley: the land of waterfalls, lush green hills and other gifts bestowed upon it by nature. But my dear friends, today Swat has in the past few years become a heartland for Pakistan Islamic militancy. Today this idyllic valley of peace is burning. Why the peace of this valley destroyed? Why the peace and innocent people of the valley targeted? Why our future is targeted? …Who will solve our problems? Who will return our Valley to peace? I say nobody, no one. Our dreams are shattered…
The AFP reported today that schools in Swat Valley reopened, “but attendance was extremely low despite a fledgling truce between the government and insurgents.” An education ministry official told the news agency that only 10 percent were in attendance due to security fears. A private schools association spokesman added, “Another reason is that many families are still frightened and thousands more left the valley because of the fighting.”
In the New Yorker, Steve Coll [author of Ghost Wars and The Bin Ladens] has an interesting take on Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden, [see CHUP’s previous post on this topic]. According to the writer, OBL is currently in Miranshah, North Waziristan. He noted, “The argument against this guess is that the town and its environs are a relatively busy area with some Pakistan Army presence. The argument for it is that it’s hardcore Taliban country controlled by the Haqqanni clan [see CHUP backgrounder on the Haqqani network], which provided the territory and protection that Osama used to create Al Qaeda’s very first training camps more than twenty years ago. Old friendships die hard in that part of the world.”
A Dawn editorial today also discussed the recent sectarian violence in Dera Ismail Khan, arguing that “the devastating suicide bombing of the funeral procession of a slain Shia local carries all the hallmarks of imported violence.” The piece further discussed the role of Qari Hussain, [whose nom de guerre is Ustad-i-Fidayeen] a militant commander based in South Waziristan who is “believed to be a recruiter and trainer of suicide bombers and has infused his ideology with a virulent stream of sectarianism.” The editors asserted,
Only an investigation into the D.I. Khan bombing can determine if the circumstantial evidence pointing in the direction of Waziristan and Qari Hussain is in fact true. But, as we have stressed before, the different strains of militancy in Pakistan have overlapped to the point where it makes little sense to treat sectarian violence as separate from Al Qaeda attacks and militancy in Punjab as different from that in FATA and northern Pakistan…Defeating the hydra of militancy does require different tactics at the local level, but there must be overall strategic coherency too.
For all those who missed Imran Khan‘s interview yesterday on Fareed Zakaria’s CNN show, GPS, here’s the transcript of the segment. On the government deal with TNSM, he noted:
Remember, this is Sufi Muhammad who the government has done a deal with. His nephew, Fazlullah, [**note: Fazlullah is actually his son-in-law] is far more radicalized. His demands are far greater. His idea of Sharia is way, way different to what, you know, what this deal is. As being done, it’s fairly moderate. The worry is that, you know, there will be hiccups on the way…And so, in my opinion, we have no choice but to start talking to people, winning over the people of the tribal area, have peace for a start. Unless there is peace, you can’t have dialogue. And so, I think it’ll be a slow process, but that is the only option. And I think the government got scared that, if they did not sign some sort of an agreement right now on Sharia, the whole area was getting further radicalized. Because there are even people much more radical than the man, Sufi Muhammad, with whom they have formed this deal with.
Will this deal bring peace to the region? Here’s The News’ Kamal Siddiqui‘s take on the question. He noted, “This whole peace agreement sets a bad example for others if there is no provision to bring to justice those who bombed, killed, attacked and maimed. In this manner, it encourages others who are following the same violent path and who, inevitably, will also end up signing deals with the government. The deal gives them a clean slate.”