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Better late than never

Pakistan finally launched an attack against the Taliban,and as gunships hovered over Lower Dir...

Written by Ruchika Talwar |
May 2, 2009 12:09:36 am

Pakistan finally launched an attack against the Taliban,and as gunships hovered over Lower Dir,The News on April 27 reported a peace rally in Buner: “Thousands of people rallied in Buner to call on the government and the Taliban to avoid conflict as fears grew of an imminent military offensive in the region.’We appeal to the Taliban to stop a show of force as there is no justification for it after ethe nforcement of the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation,’ a politician said…. A cleric warned the government against deploying security forces if the Taliban was committed to keeping peace. ‘If the government sent troops to Buner despite the Taliban’s commitment not to disturb peace,then we will be with the Taliban,’ he added.” Imran Khan,an ardent supporter of the tribal justice system,has also begun to criticise the Taliban,calling Sufi Muhammad’s action “unIslamic”. On April 27,The News reported: “Khan has slated Sufi Muhammad for violating the Constitution of Pakistan,saying that Sufi has violated the

agreement signed with the government and the basic spirit of the Holy Quran.”

The Nizam-e-Adl Regulation,which is the bone of contention between the Taliban and the government in NWFP,has still not been implemented. Daily Times on May 1 quoted ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak as promising to enforce it in two days in the Malakand division. “Nizam-e-Adl will be enforced in the next two days¿ Afterwards,the government would take strong action against Taliban if they do not disarm.” Another report in Daily Times added: “Sufi said there was a deadlock over the appointment of qazis between him and the NWFP government,because the government had not accepted the names he had recommended… Sufi Muhammad rejected the judges nominated by the government,saying they were not eligible. Once judges are appointed under Islamic law,those continuing to fight will be considered rebels,he told the Taliban.”

Media trouble

Dawn’s May 1 editorial underscored the need to caution war zone reporters. “Taliban consider their cause to be faultless and their actions above reproach,any ‘negative’ reporting is deemed to be worthy of brutal retaliatory action. What else is to be expected of people who do not even pretend that they believe in freedom of expression? These are people,after all,who are convinced that any Pakistani who is opposed to the Taliban is an infidel…The seriousness of the warning issued by the Swat Taliban cannot be downplayed,with militants sending pamphlets outlining their future options to media houses… Any media personnel engaged in ‘anti-Taliban’ and ‘pro-western’ agendas will face dire consequences,according to the militants…Taliban have now announced their intention to ‘reform’ the media and make it ‘mend its ways’ and ‘it is the duty of the media to give space and time to statements which have a positive impact on society…’ So what is to be done to safeguard the lives of reporters and other journalists working in the north? The government’s writ is suspect,but it must make every effort to provide security to journalists wherever possible — media houses shouldn’t send reporters and cameramen into war zones without adequate protection and training…No one should have to pay the ultimate price for a story.”

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