The permanent cease fire agreement with the Talebaan in Malakand Valley, is to me of utmost concern. These are Pakistani Talebaan. Over the last several years they have been itching to take control of parts of Pakistan and now they have. The Malakand or Swat valley is the richest most fertile part of the NWFP and I am very concerned that Peshawar will be next.
Conceding and appeasing the Talebaan is in my view very dangerous and short-sighted. Appeasement does not work. Islamabad has tried it before -- with disastrous results. This has only given these hordes time to rearm and come back. This development is a significant threat to Pakistan at many different levels.
The Talebaan's interpretation of Shariah Law is really fundamentalist Islam in the most agrarian way. It is violently against women. It not only shackles them in the all enveloping veil but it denies them education, to work, to go out against an escort. In Swat dozens of girl schools have been destroyed. I am very very concerned that this will mean terrible things for women out there. To five these vermin concessions in the heart of NWFP is very dangerous.
To their credit, earlier on, the Pakistani army did step up in its fight against the Talebaan but then it started to stall. What happened recently -- and a lot of our soldiers have been killed by the way in this fight -- is that the military stopped going hand to hand with the Talebaan. They stood back and started shelling the militant outposts from long distance. What this did was cause mayhem against the civilian population -- death, injuries and destruction of property. The civilains in that area have had enough. They now want security and peace by any means. So, they as well as many in Islamabad are now saying that OK if we get Shariah Law, it will at least get us peace.
Reality however is different. We have seen this movie before. This is just a lull before the next storm and sooner or later, if unchecked will topple the establishment in Islamabad and for decades erase the vision of a secular Pakistan that many of us including this author share and pine for.