Pakhtunkhwa Times

Pashtun Diaspora In Europe, Canada Wants Peace In Their Motherland

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on February 19, 2009

TORONTO- Pashtuns living in canada and Europe Sunday arranged peace demonstrations in Toronoto and Paris to condemn civilian deaths and destruction of educational institutions in the ongoing conflict between Pakistan security forces and Taliban militants in Swat Valley and other conflict ridden districts of North Western Pakistan.

The peace rally was organized by Pakhtunkhwa Peace Forum (PPF-Canada) in front of Ontario Legislative Building at Queens Park Toronto here on Sunday. Besides a large number of Pashtun students, workers and civil society activists, the ralley was also attended by members of the Canadian Muslim Congress, PRAP Canada, Canadian Institute for Peace and Democracy in Pakistan (CIPD), Canadian Pashtun Cultural Association, Pashtun Peace Forum, Pakistani Canadian Pashtun Association, Canadian Afghan Association and people from different walks of life.

The protestors where there to raise voice for thousands of innocent children, women and elderly people who are caught between the security forces and the insurgents in Swat Valley of Pakistan.

They raised placards oin their hands with slogans “Please Don’t Destroy our Schools”, “Stop Genocide of Pashtuns”, “We want Books not Bombs”, written on them.

They demanded of the United Nationa, Canadian government and other peace-loving members of the International Community to don’t close their eyes to the gross human rights voilation and bloodsheding of Pashtuns on the pretext of fighting a war against terrorism.

The protesters also demanded that the UN and the International Community should devise strategies that can ensure peace for the terrorised people of Swat and bring normalcy to the region.

The Peace rally was staged for two hours. Participants of the rally also passed a draft resolution that they will submit to the government of Canada.

Speaking on the occasion, the speakers expressed their extreme concern over the killing of people both by Taliban militants and the security forces. They said that bombing of the civilian population has become a daily routine with the secuirty forces.

They also demanded that the government and humanitarian organizations should take concrete steps to provide assistance to thousands of people who are displaced by the conflict both in Swat and Pakistan Tribal Areas. They also urged the media not to follow the line drawn by the authorities but do objective and factual reporting from Swat valley.

PARIS: Students, workers and human rights activists hold a protest demonstration at Human Rights Plaza Paris. The protesters stayed at the plaza for three hours with placards in their hands and chanting slogans against both militants and the military in Pakistan conflict-ridden Swat valley.

Tourists from different parts of France and other European countries showed their solidarity with the protesters by joing them and staying with them for sometime.

Addressing on the occasion the speakers said that Swat- an erstwhile tourists’ paradise had been turned into a virtual hell by the ill-devised policies of the Pakistani government and Taliban’s extremist religious agenda.

They maintained that the conflict left thousands of civilians killed, 0.7 million displaced and 200 educational institutions completely destroyed.

The protesters demanded of the international community to play its role in defusing tensions and devising a comprehensive strategy for restoring peace to North Western Pakistan (Pashtunkhwa).

“If the militancy is not checked properly it may engulp the whole south Asian region and jeopardy the prospects of a peaceful world”, the speakers maintained.

A child protesting against destruction of Schools by Taliban in Swat valley. PPost Photo

Rescue or surrender? Local hero brings sharia law to troubled region• Taliban-dominated area wins religious concession

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on February 19, 2009

• Government accused of capitulation to Islamists
Saeed Shah in Islamabad The Guardian, Wednesday 18 February 2009 Article historyWith his long, flowing white beard and black turban, Sufi Muhammad cut an imposing figure as he walked through the crowds in Mingora town, north-west Pakistan yesterday. Tribesmen and mullahs jostled to be at his side, then raised him aloft. All around, black-and-white flags fluttered – flags of the religious group founded by Muhammad, the Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi.

The organisation was banned in 2002 after Muhammad led hundreds of young men across the border to fight alongside the Taliban against the US-led coalition. He was jailed and only freed last year. Yesterday though, Muhammad was hailed as the man who brought peace to Pakistan’s Swat region – by securing the official imposition of Islamic law. Muhammad has persuaded the government of Pakistan to agree to the enforcement of sharia for the vast Malakand area, which includes Swat.

Desperate for a respite from violence, thousands turned out in Mingora, Swat’s main city, to greet him. A ceasefire was announced by the local Taliban in response to Muhammad’s deal, which was unveiled on Monday. And that has made this Islamist something of a local hero. Sweets were distributed in the town as people flocked on to the previously deserted streets. For the first time in months, all the shops opened, the bazaars were busy and even schools suddenly started teaching again.

“We have come out of a nightmare. We are very excited,” said Zubair Torwali, a social worker from Swat. “Ordinary people want peace at any cost.”

The authorities portrayed it as a political settlement to end the bloodshed. Others see it as the moment of Pakistan’s capitulation to the extremists.

Swat slipped out of government control two years ago, and over the last few months it had been an almost total takeover by a fearsome band of Taliban led by Muhammad’s estranged son-in-law, Mullah Fazlullah. Under the militants’ control, girls schools were closed, women banned from shopping, and public floggings and executions were carried out. The main business in Swat – tourism – was extinguished. For the people there, Sufi Muhammad had managed to get the extremists to lay down their arms in return for the introduction of Islamic courts. In turn, government forces will pull out of active operations in the region.

It remains unclear how much hold Muhammad has over Fazlullah and more hardline elements in the region. Yesterday, though, the people of Swat appeared relieved that the fighting had stopped.

“Today, the fear has finished,” Sherin Zada, a hotelier in Swat.

Others in this country, though, are less optimistic. “This is not a political solution. It is very clearly a surrender,” said Athar Minallah, a lawyer and civil liberties activist. “It’s a complete failure of the institutions of the state. The political forces are looking for a shortcut, but this will have very long-term repercussions for this country. It sends the message that anyone who takes up arms will succeed.”

Swat lies in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), just 100 miles from the capital Islamabad, not tribal areas further west that have always had their own rules and, after 9/11, have been largely lost to the Taliban and al-Qaida. In Swat in 2007, Fazlullah broke with the somewhat softer Islamist organisation of his father-in-law and joined the Pakistani Taliban, taking up arms and suicide bombings. The rule of the Taliban in Swat has led to the death of hundreds, while up to 500,000 may have fled their brutal attacks.

IA Rehman, director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, warned that the new courts, not the government, would end up deciding what constitutes sharia and Islamic punishments, producing a new tussle with the state. “There’s a question of whether it [sharia] can be contained to Malakand. Once it spreads to Frontier, then why not Punjab (Pakistan’s heartland)?” said Rehman.

The Pakistan army, which has around 12,000 soldiers deployed in a losing battle in Swat, announced that it will now hold fire against the militants.

Asad Munir, a retired army brigadier who was formerly head of military intelligence for the NWFP, said that the government was right to try to isolate Fazlullah by building up Sufi Muhammad and conceding the key demand of sharia. But he warned that military operations had to continue and that the Taliban would use the ceasefire to regroup.

“[The Taliban] are not going to leave the power they’ve got through the gun,” said Munir. “They will never surrender.”

The government, which is led by the secular Pakistan People party, seems not to know how to deal with the extremists. Islamabad said that the new laws would not come in until peace was restored and that the form of sharia would comply with the existing constitution of Pakistan.

“Western values cannot hold the ground all the time, said Raza Rabbani, a minister in the federal government. “You mix values and principles with ground realities and give it a touch which is Pakistani.”

Pakistan’s western allies view it differently. The British high commission in Islamabad warned that, “previous peace deals have not provided a … long-term solution to Swat’s problems”.

Nato, which heads the international coalition across the border, is concerned that Swat and the wider Malakand region could now become a sanctuary for militants that would then cross over into Afghanistan. “We should all be concerned by a situation in which extremists would have a safe haven. Without doubting the good faith of the Pakistani government, it is clear that the region is suffering very badly from extremists and we would not want it to get worse,” said a Nato spokesman, James Appathurai, in Brussels.

Law unto themselves
Malakand administrative “division” now comprises the mountainous, former princely states of Swat, Dir and Chitral, in the far north-west of Pakistan. These states remained independent during the British Raj and even after Pakistan was formed, becoming part of the country only in the 1960s.

In Swat, under the ruler, the “Wali of Swat”, there was what he called Islamic law and, though it was not a particularly religious form of justice at the time, many in the area hanker after sharia, remembering how quickly cases were decided in the Wali’s era.

A young Winston Churchill wrote his first published non-fiction book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force, about a military campaign he fought in Malakand in 1897.

The British did not believe in the kind of peace deal just announced by Pakistan. In the book, Churchill describes a massacre of the local tribes, with six-foot-high piles of bodies.

Facebook | Pakhtunkhwa PeaceForum

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on February 19, 2009

Demonstration against the genocide of Pashtuns(Toronto)Photos

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on February 19, 2009