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Old 01-27-2009, 03:43 PM
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Default "More People Have Been Killed in [Taliban-Led] Violence Than In Gaza

Special Dispatch - No. 2210

January 26, 2009No. 2210
Pakistani Daily: "More People Have Been Killed in [Taliban-Led] Violence... In the [Swat] Valley Than In The Israeli Onslaught on Gaza"

As international attention is focused on Gaza, Taliban militants are enforcing Islamic shari'a in the SwatValley of Pakistan's North WestFrontierProvince (NWFP). Since January 15, 2009, the Taliban have enforced a complete ban on female education in the Swat district. The forced Islamization in the Swat district, which was once compared to Switzerland for its picturesque valley, has been underway in recent months, and was stepped up after the Pakistani government released Islamist leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad last year under a deal with the militants. The Taliban in the district are led by Maulana Sufi Muhammad and his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah.
Some 400 private schools have been shut down, depriving about 40,000 girls of their right to education. Additionally, about 84,000 female students enrolled in government-run schools are unlikely to get an education, despite the Pakistani government's pledge to reopen the schools beginning March 1, 2009. [1] At least 10 girls' schools that tried to open after the January 15, 2009 deadline by the Taliban were blown up by the militants in the town of Mingora, the headquarters of the Swat district. [2] The Taliban have also made it compulsory for men to wear caps and have banned shaving, beginning January 25, 2009. [3]

In parts of the North WestFrontierProvince, the Taliban are already operating Islamic shari'a courts, while the state of Pakistan is paralyzed and the international community is focused on Gaza. In a report, the Pakistani daily The News expressed concern that while the Pakistani religious and political parties and civil society groups are turning out in large numbers in the streets of Pakistan to protest against Israel, no one is bothered about the people of the Swat district.

Following are excerpts from the report published by The News: [4]

"The People [of Swat] Have Been Unfortunate Not to Get Due Attention of the Government, Politico-Religious Parties, and Civil Society - Who Have Been Crowding the Streets to Protest the Killing of Palestinians"
"One could not differentiate between two pictures in Tuesday's [January 20] papers showing the widely scattered rubble of the destroyed buildings in Gaza and blown-up schools in Swat valley, until reading their captions.

"The valley is replete with such scenes, as more than 170 schools have been bombed or torched, along with other government-owned buildings. Also, more people have been killed in violence and military operations in the valley than in the Israeli onslaught on Gaza - but the people [in the valley] have been unfortunate not to get due attention of the government, politico-religious parties, and civil society, who have been crowding the streets to protest the killing of Palestinians."

"Following the Refusal by 600-800 Officials of the Elite Police Force to Carry Out Their Duties in the Militant-TeemingValley, The Military Is Also Having Trouble Providing Security to Schools - So the Girls of the Valley Seem Destined to Face a Bleak Future"
"The blowing up of five schools on Monday [January 19] in the heart of Mingora city belied the tall claims of the provincial and federal governments vis-a-vis ensuring security to schools in Mingora in particular and rest of the valley in general. It added to the worries of the people and girl students, and pointed at the vulnerability of schools.

"The federal and provincial governments have insisted that they were capable of providing security to schools against the militants' threat. 'Education is the basic right of every citizen and the government will ensure it. We will provide security to schools. The militants are not capable to materialise their threat, but have been spreading propaganda to blackmail the government,' NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the other day. 'Federal Minister for Information Sherry Rahman has also expressed the same resolve.

"However, their words proved hollow, meant to give false solace to the worried countrymen, particularly Swatis [people of the Swat district]. 'No special security was provided to schools. Protection to schools is impossible until improvement in the overall security situation. It's the writ of the government that ensures security to schools and all other installations, which is nonexistent at the moment,' an officer of the administration said...

"Interestingly, incapable to stop militants from destroying schools, Iftikhar still claimed that the schools would be reopened on March 1 despite militants' threat. 'We have requested donors to provide finances to rebuild and reopen the ruined schools,' he added, declaring, as he usually does, to take militants head-on.

"It has also been learned that following the refusal by 600-800 officials of the Elite Police force to carry out their duties in the militant-teeming valley, the military is also having trouble providing security to schools. So the girls of the valley seem destined to face a bleak future.

"Maulana Fazlullah-led militants have asked the administration of all schools to stop providing female education by January 15, or else the buildings would be blown up. This led the administrations of private schools to announce the closure of female classes in 400 schools. The government came under heavy flak for failing to restrain the militants in the valley, where more than 120 girls' schools have been destroyed, and to ensure female education there. The private schools refused to trust the government and security forces against the militants, saying that they could not risk the lives of students and would open institutes only after peace was fully restored, or a go-ahead after assurance from the powerful militants.

"Commenting on their failure in the valley, a member of the NWFP cabinet said, while requesting anonymity, that they were serious not only in protecting schools but also in restoring peace to the entire valley.

"About accelerating the operation, he said that the government was satisfied with the operation in the valley, and had passed a resolution to ask the army to make the operation effective. 'Democratic governments convey acts in this manner, but here resolutions by legislatures mean nothing, unfortunately...."'

[1] The News, Pakistan, January 16, 2009.
[2] The News, Pakistan, January 21, 2009.
[3] The News, Pakistan, January 21, 2009.
[4] The News, Pakistan, January 21, 2009.
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