Extremist radical forces are consistently reinforcing a message of profound significance to all sociopolitical actors in Pakistan through highly effective means. This message is clear and direct. It dictates to all democratic forces that if democracy means belief in man’s eternal right to choose, then your choice must be subjected to our will, or you will have to pay the price through your life.
The ANP, willingly and proudly, is paying this price. Its leadership and workers’ resolve to contest elections, despite all hazards and irreparable losses, deserves commendations from every Pakistani. This does not necessarily amount to casting one’s vote for it or condoning any alleged corruption committed by its government.
Various reasons are cited for the ominous silence of political forces when it comes to openly condemning the attacks on the ANP. Those with a mild stance on the issue seek reconciliation with those perpetrating the attacks through dialogue, while the rigid ones blatantly differentiate between terrorists and the Taliban. Fundamentally, they all revel in the comfort of not being subjected to the dreadful suicide bombings. Hence, their vibrant election campaigns are there for all to see. Visionary insight is not required to assess that the grounds of the comfort they feel in the prevailing situation lies on an unsure base. Conducting negotiations are almost as difficult as conducting war. Modalities and objectives of any negotiation between the authorities and the Taliban are disputed, which led to its earlier failures. Successful negotiations require accepting realities of each other and the futility of war and violence as policy options. Currently, this realisation is missing on the part of the Taliban.
Those who assume that their favourable relationship with the Taliban will be permanent are delusional. The Taliban believe in unrestrained violence against any entity they find unacceptable. Any political force not objecting to this strategic policy is making itself a willing victim of future terrorism.
Wisdom is believed to be the fruit of bitter experiences. The ANP has grown wiser after its experiences with the Taliban. Despite much national and international disapproval, the ANP government conceded to the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation in 2009, which was conditioned to the Taliban quitting militancy and respecting Pakistan’s Constitution. However, Sufi Muhammad denounced the Constitution, burying every hope of actualising peace.
The ANP’s resolve to remain steadfast against the Taliban’s ferocity could be gauged from their slogan, watan ya kafan. Though oversimplified, this zeal seems to have an anthropological explanation. The Pashtun code of conduct is centered on the principle of pashtanna, signifying permission or consultation. As a nation, the Pashtuns refuse to be coerced and prefer being asked for permission and being persuaded through consultations on all matters pertaining to them. Representing this ideal, the ANP is communicating a resounding message on behalf of every free man in this country, to the Taliban that they can choose to intimidate us, but we only allow ourselves to be persuaded.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2013.
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