By Elan Journo, Voices for Reason Blog
What might Pakistan look like in the years to come? The
nuclear-armed country may well look a lot like Taliban-controlled
Sounds like hyperbole? Consider the trend now unfolding in Pakistan: the national government struck a so-called peace agreement
with Islamist kingpins in the North. In return for promising to end
jihadist attacks within Pakistan, the Islamists were given the power to
enforce sharia (Islamic law) in the Swat Valley. The Pakistani
government recently signed this agreement into law. But as a Washington Post subhead puts it, “After Reaching Deal in North, Islamists Aim to Install Religious Law Nationwide.”
Several months back, when the deal was announced, I suggested that it was an outright surrender.
Instead of living up to its stated goal of opposing the Islamists, by
defeating them militarily, Islamabad has opted for the losing policy of
appeasement — a policy that can only strengthen the jihadists. One
concerned observer, a prof at Quaid-i-Azam university, told the Post that “The [national] government made a big mistake to give these guys legal cover for their agenda.”
It’s far worse than that.
To call it a mistake leaves open the possibility of an honest error
in pursuit of the right policy. But like other cases of appeasement,
the deal in question was predicated on willfully ignoring crucial facts
about the goals of the Islamists — goals that are well known. For the
last three-odd decades, jihadists all over the world have been vocal in
asserting their ultimate aim of expanding Allah’s dominion across the
face of the earth. Not alongside other forms of government, but in
place of them.
Only policymakers who blinker their eyes and plug their ears could
be surprised when one of the Islamist leaders in Pakistan explains the
drive for expanding rule by sharia:
The Koran says that supporting an infidel system is a
great sin,” Mohammed said, referring to Pakistan’s modern democratic
institutions. He declared that in Swat, home to 1.5 million people, all
“un-Islamic laws and customs will be abolished,” and he suggested that
the official imprimatur on the agreement would pave the way for sharia
to be installed in other areas.
The so-called peace deal had to become a piecemeal surrender, given the jihadist vision for society.
When we achieve our goals in one place, we need to
struggle for it in other areas,” Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told
Pakistani news services by telephone last week. “Sharia does not permit
us to lay down our arms if the government continues anti-Muslim
policies.” The goal, he said, is to “enforce the rule of Allah on the
land of Allah.”
This is the same, tired old song we’ve heard from the likes of
Khomeini and bin Laden. By evading the Islamist movement’s nature,
Pakistan has handed it a signal victory — the Swat Valley today,
plausibly the rest of Pakistan tomorrow.