Terrorizing World – "Enough is enough"

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‘Many Pakistanis question if this is their war’

Posted by :) on May 19, 2009


Source : TOI

Salima Hashmi, the daughter of legendary Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, is a patron of arts and one of the best-known rights activists in Pakistan. Sameer Arshadspoke to Hashmi about the Taliban threat and the role of Pakistan’s civil society in countering extremism:


How real is the threat of Taliban spilling over into other parts of Pakistan?
The Taliban are more than one group. I consider Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad to be an equal threat and they aren’t restricted to one part of the country. They are firmly entrenched in areas like Muridke in Punjab. The Binori Masjid in Karachi is another centre of militancy.
Why has Pakistan’s famed civil society failed to stand up to the Taliban?
Civil society is responding and demonstrations are taking place at various places. A signature cam
paign is in operation. But i think the drone attacks and the US’s Afghan policy have made some people ambivalent towards the Taliban. Many people question whether this is ‘our war’. At the same time, i think the recent events like the takeover in Swat and radical cleric Sufi Mohammad’s statements are galvanising more people against the Taliban. However, the large number of civilian casualties in the army action is causing a lot of concern.
If Pakistan’s civil society couldoustmilitaryrulerGeneral Pervez Musharraf and force President Asif Ali Zardari to restore the deposed judges, why can’t it do the same vis-a-vis the Taliban?
The lawyers movement took an immense toll on the people’s lives. It led to loss of livelihood for so many young lawyers and civil society activists. It has exhausted the populace.
What keeps the civil society going?
The savagery of military ruler Zia-ul Haq decimated the political process, parties, labour, students, intellectual, artists, writers and media and civil rights groups. His legacy lives on through the laws enacted in that time. You can hardly understand the implications of
Zia’s 11-year rule. He transformed Pakistan in every way. It’s there in the way textbooks were written, procedures altered and this continues till today. But it also strengthened the independence of the spirit of society and media in ways that surprise our friends from India. Our media is unlike that of India. I find Indian media to be more conformist and often eager to swallow the ‘official’ line as though it would be unpatriotic if they didn’t do so.
Do you think India has a role to play in strengthening Pakistan’s civilian dispensation?
Certainly one expects India to be supportive of a civil dispensation and give up eulogising Musharraf. He represented himself and the army with great aplomb and we have to live with the consequences, the most frightening of which are the Taliban and the Lashkars of various kinds.

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