SWAT: The release of a spanking new video of Maulana Fazlullah, the chief of Taliban’s Swat chapter, at precisely the time the anti-terrorism court of Malakand division declared him an outlaw, seems not only ridiculous but has also created doubts in the minds of the people of Swat.
The court issued similar pronouncement for 57 other people, including top leaders Shah Dauran and Muslim Khan, directing them to appear before it in seven days.
The people of Swat have condemned Fazlullah’s purported speech in which the cleric denounces his group’s defeat in Malakand division, saying that peace in the valley is a joke. He also exhorts his loyalists to attack the Pakistan army.
Also known as ‘Mullah Radio’, Fazlullah criticises the holding of peace festivals in Swat and Kalam, saying they (the Taliban) are still active and will soon re-emerge in the valley.
Unsurprisingly, the video release has evoked a negative reaction from a cross-section of society. Sardar Hussain Babak, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Minister for Education, said his party (ANP) had already rendered great sacrifices in combating terrorism and was ready to fight again with valour in the future.
“Hiding in caves and issuing threats like cowards is no gallantry,” he told reporters. “Let those cowards come out of their caves and fight face to face. We will not be cowed by empty threats,” the minister declared.
Speaking about Taliban’s reign of terror, he said: “This man (Fazlullah) had initiated violence in his own area, making people’s lives a hell by following the agenda of anti-Pakistan powers.”
He added: “People of Malakand division are very patriotic and brave. They will never get discouraged by such acts of cowardice. Our party openly condemns every kind of terrorism and anti-state activities.”
Some locals, on being approached, resolved to fight personally against “the enemies of our land”. “We can’t even bear to hear the name of Fazlullah, let alone his comeback in this pure and clean land,” one local remarked.
“We will not be trapped any more by their hidden agenda purveyed in the name of Islam,” another said.
“If anybody connected to that militant group appeared, we will treat him like the one killed by a local militia force (Lashkar) at Kala Kaley in Kabal tehsil on Friday,” he added.
Mussarat Ahmad Zeb, a daughter-in-law of the late Wali-i-Swat told The Express Tribune that such news affected the lives of people, but militants should remember that “we, the people of Swat, are not terrorists nor do we like violence. Our leader, the great Wali of Swat, taught us how to live peacefully.”
Referring to Fazlullah’s role she remarked: “The drama, or should I say a re-enactment of Genghis Khan and Halaku Khan’s violence, should stop now. We should start concentrating on our children and the youth who have been affected very badly.”
The new video, which shows Fazlullah in sound health, firing an AK-47 assault rifle and addressing a group of would-be suicide attackers, was rejected by Swati people, who resolved not to let the band of brigands destroy the valley’s peace.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2010.