Editor: A Khokar
A historical perspective of SWAT. I am writing this exclusively from this erudite article “SWAT – A CRITICAL ANALYSIS” written by Dr Sultan-i-Rome, (Asst. Professor of History, Jahanzeb College, Saidu Sharif, SWAT, Pakistan). Those of you who have the time and inclination, please read this exceptional article to truly understand the going ons in SWAT.ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. SULTAN i ROME
Sultan-i-Rome has a Ph.D. in history from the Department of History, University of Peshawar. His doctoral dissertation was on Swat State. He joined the Department of Higher Education (Colleges), Government of North-West Frontier Province, as Lecturer in History in 1988, and is presently Assistant Professor. Sultan-i-Rome is life member of: Pakistan Historical Society, Council of Social Sciences Pakistan (COSS), and Pukhtu Adabi Board. He is also member of Environmental Protection Society (EPS), based at Swat, and remained its Councillor (Member of the Board of Governors) for the years 1999-2002. He remained Member of the Review Committee Manuscripts for Islamic History (for Classes IX-X & XI-XII), in 1995, NWFP Text Book Board, Peshawar. He has participated in various seminars, conferences and workshops, and published several articles.
Oxford University Press (OUP), has published his book:
Amazon link to the book: Click here.
Why the armed struggle in SWAT?
The presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan, the government’s operations in Waziristan and other parts of FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) operation in Islamabad (especially the manner in which it was carried out), and the government’s failure to spiritedly enforce and implement Islamic laws in the courts — as demanded by the TNSM and promised by successive governments — are the other key reasons why the Pakistani Taliban’s influence has spread from Waziristan to Swat; and resulted in the current armed struggle and upheaval.
Who are TNSM?
In 1989, a movement was started in Dir District and an organization headed by Sufi Muhammad, called the Tanzim Nifaz-e- Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM), meaning ‘Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law’, was formed. The motto of the organization was to compel the Pakistani authorities to enforce Islamic laws in the judicial arena and make the judiciary conform to the Islamic system in Malakand Division. The organization gradually extended the movement to Swat as well. The prolonged legal procedures (after the merger of Swat State), undue delay, heightened expenditure, bribery, misuse of riwaj and further deterioration under the PATA (Provincially Administered) Regulations had already aggrieved most people of Swat. The judgment of the Peshawar High Court and then Supreme Court of Pakistan (declaring PATA Regulations ultra virus to the constitution) aggrieved the executive circle in Malakand Division, for it meant a dilution of their unbounded power. The executive were of the opinion that it was not possible to enforce Islamic law in the Malakand Division alone, and thus, the government would have to introduce other regulations of the nature of the defunct PATA Regulations, under whichthey would once again wield immense power. Therefore, they allowed a free run to the TNSM and approved and supported its activities tacitly. All this resulted in an increased momentum for the TNSM movement in SWAT. The logo of the organization (TNSM) even bears the words ‘ya shariat ya shahadat’ (either Shariat or martyrdom).
It is worth noting that the demand for the enforcement of Islamic laws in Swat is not a new development. In 1949, Sirajuddin Khan (son of Sherzada Khan of Mingawara, brother of Muzafarul Mulk alias Kaki Khan—sitting member, national assembly— and uncle of Wajid Ali Khan—sitting provincial minister for forests) in a memorandum, asked the ruler of Swat state to enforce Islamic laws in the state, arguing that this would solve the problems of the people and ameliorate their distress. And in June 1971, after the merger of the state, Dani Gul (a resident of Mingawara), advocated the enforcement of Islamic laws in Swat; terming it the only solution to the problems of Swat and arguing that it was in consonance with the people’s temperament/mood.
As the promulgation of the ‘Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA, Nifaz-e-Nizam- e-Sharia) Regulation, 1994,’ and the purported changes it brought about did not satisfy the TNSM, the organization started ‘Jeel Bharao Tahrik’ in June 1995. Consequent upon the resentment and the struggle, a new regulation titled ‘Shari- Nizam-e-Adl Regulation, 1999,’ was promulgated, but it also failed to bring about any practical change; and the issue continued to fester. And all this while Sufi Muhammad and his organization were busy in the struggle for the enforcement of Islamic laws and change in the judicial System.
America invaded Afghanistan in 2001. He (Sufi Muhammad), along with tens of thousands of his supporters crossed into Afghanistan in November 2001, to fight on the Taliban’s side, against the Americans and their allies, despite the Taliban having asked him not to come. After having lost a large number of his supporters and being unable to counter US bombardment, he, along with his son-in- law Fazlullah, made their way back to Pakistan, where they were caught and subsequently incarcerated.
BIRTH OF FAZLULLAH & BAITULLAH MEHSUD:
Sufi Muhammad remained in jail; but Fazlullah was released after seventeen months. After his release, he started preaching a purity campaign on an FM radio channel. Since his father-in-law was in prison, he was supported by TNSM sympathisers and with the assistance of the radio channel he quickly became popular.
The policy and course adopted by Fazlullah however, became a source of dissension within the rank and file of the TNSM. Though the TNSM disavowed his policy and officially severed connections with him, his power and popularity continued to increase. And in 2007, the breakaway faction, led by Fazlullah, became part of the newly-established Tahrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP), headed by Baitullah Masud, which is an alliance or umbrella organization of different groups. The Fazlullah-led group is more influential than the TNSM-led group, headed by Sufi Muhammad, for the former are militarily well trained and possess greater zeal and commitment.
A gang of Taliban kidnapped journalist (Of GEO TV) Musa Khankhel on Wednesday and then rigged him with bullets and beheaded his dead corpse. The building of the press club in Wana was blown up the same day Musa Khan was murdered. Truth is no longer welcome in SWAT and anyone reporting on going ons in SWAT will be killed. Greater zeal, indeed ! (BuA: I have another theory. Geo TV got on the nerve of Pak Army & ISI by relentlessly going after the 26/11 perpetrators and proving that Ajmal Kasav was from Pakistan, the hideouts of the militants were shown in Karachi and other places – reason enough to scare off Geo TV from further meddling into the affairs of ISI / Pak Army).
SWAT has been the cradle of a great civilization (Gandhara) and has also been periodically invaded by formidable armies.
Swat, which was the religious centre for Buddhists at one time, had ‘some 1400’ Buddhist sangharamas (monasteries), with ‘some 18,000 priests in them.’ And it was here that a third school of Buddhism called Vajrayana or the Tantric Buddhism developed and flourished; due to which it turned into a sacred place ‘for the Tibetans, as a birthplace of Padmasambahava.
For most of its known history, Swat has remained independent or at least semi- independent. It was occupied by the Yusufzai Afghans in the sixteenth century, who emerged the dominant segment in society.
They, however, did not establish a government or state and lived in the tribal welter, divided into two opposite blocks called dalay (singular dala). During 1879 – 1881, the neighbouring Khan of Dir occupied the right-bank Swat and in 1895, the British brought the left-bank lower Swat under their protectorate and loose control with the formation of the Agency of Dir and Swat, to which Chitral was added in 1897.Incensed at the repressive policy of the Dir ruler and the high handedness of his tax collectors, the people of the Shamizi, Sebujni and Nikpi Khel cantons of the right-bank Swat at last struck common cause under the patronage of a religious figure Wali Ahmad alias Sandakai Baba, in the beginning of 1915. After various encounters, they defeated and expelled the Dir forces, formed a five-member council to manage the affairs of the liberated area and at last installed Sayyad Abdul Jabbar Shah, on 24 April 1915, as their king. Abdul Jabbar Shah, however, was asked to relinquish power and leave Swat in September 1917. It must be noted however, that Abdul Jabbar Shah’s domain did not encompass the entire Swat.
At the removal of Abdul Jabbar Shah, Miangul Abdul Wadud (the grandson of Akhund Abdul Ghafur alias Saidu Baba) was installed as the new king of Swat. Abdul Wadud alias Bacha Sahib was dynamic and energetic and expanded and consolidated the state during his reign. The drive, initiatives and policies of the new king made Swat a model of peace in the Pukhtun tribal areas; and an incredible sense of peace and respect for the authority of the state prevailed in an overwhelmingly illiterate tribal society. Under the term of an illiterate, but enlightened person, Swat became ‘a unique State’; and a model of peace, tranquility and progress in the Pukhtun tribal society.
In December 1949, Abdul Wadud abdicated his throne in favour of his son and heir apparent, Miangul Abdul Haq Jahanzeb. Miangul Jahanzeb alias Wali Sahib’s efforts gave an impetus to developmental work with priority to the education, communication and health sectors. Moreover, he endeavoured to westernize the state and society. While the Swat state survived despite the opposition from within and outside; several factors, finally culminated in the announcement made on 28 July 1969, regarding state merger by the then Chief Martial Law Administrator and President of Pakistan, General Yahya Khan; and the ruler was formally divested of his powers on 15 August 1969.
After bringing an end to the state, the former State (which was ruled by the Wali on behalf of the government of Pakistan as administrator for the said area) and Kalam areas were made a district (headed by a commissioner).
Before the partition of India and the emergence of Pakistan on 15 August 1947, the subcontinent was primarily divided into two entities: British India and princely/Indian states.
There was a third category called the ‘tribal area’. The Government of India Act, 1935, defined ‘tribal area’ as ‘the areas along the Frontier of India or in Baluchistan which are not part of British India or of Burma or of any Indian State or of any Foreign States.’
All the three had a different status and were governed by different laws. British India was directly ruled by the British, under the laws framed by them. The princely states were ruled by their rulers according to their own laws and systems, but almost all of them had entered into treaties with the British government, on certain terms. The tribal area was neither subservient to the laws in vogue in British India nor was it ruled under the same administrative apparatus; but was internally independent and had treaty relations with the British; and was under loose British control.
Recognizing that under the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the princely states (Swat being one of them) and the tribal area would become independent, especially once the treaties entered into with the British government would lapse on 15 August 1947; the governments of Pakistan and Swat determined their future relations in the form of the Instrument of Accession.
Under the Instrument of Accession (signed by the Swati ruler on 3 November and Governor-General of Pakistan on 24 November 1947), the ruler of Swat, while retaining his own sovereignty over the state, surrendered his authority in respect of matters concerning defence, external affairs and communications of the state, to the dominion of Pakistan. With this Agreement, Swat gained admission into the Federation of Pakistan and also a mention in clause (a) of sub-section 5 of the Government of India Act, 1935. It therefore, constituted a part of Pakistan and was known as a ‘Federated State’.
Like the other Federated States, with the solitary exception of Dir, Swat executed the Supplementary Instrument of Accession under which the Wali surrendered further authority to the Federal Legislature of Pakistan, and empowered it to enact laws for his state in the same manner in which it could make laws for other parts of Pakistan, in the Federal and Concurrent fields (Lists I and III, VII schedule of the Government of India Act, 1935); and to exercise executive authority in the State in respect of matters in the said fields.
Swat retained its status of a ‘Special Area’ under article 218 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1956. Under article 104, it was clarified that ‘….no Act of Parliament or of the Provincial Legislature shall apply to a Special Area or to any part thereof unless the Governor with the previous approval of the President so directs.…’ The article further provided details on how laws shall be made for the Special Areas or a part thereof, and also stated that the special status of a Special Area or part thereof could be revoked by the president at any time, but only after ascertaining the views of the people of the concerned area.
The Constitution of the Republic of Pakistan, 1962, declared the Frontier States, ‘Tribal Areas’, and Article 223, declared that no central or provincial law would apply to a Tribal Area or any part of it unless the president and the governor (with the approval of the president), so directed.
Though Swat’s status as a state was brought to an end in 1969, the special status of the area remained intact.
And section (6), of article 261, granted the president the same power as was previously given in section 4 of article 104 of the Constitution of 1956 and section (3) of article 223 of the Constitution of 1962, but with the difference that the president shall ascertain the views of the people of the area concerned, for doing away with its tribal status, ‘as represented in jirga.’
The aforesaid, envisaged in Articles 260 and 261 of the Interim Constitution of 1972 —were retained under Articles 246 and 247 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973.
Therefore, no law made or act passed by the central and provincial legislatures applies to the area, unless specially extended under the special and specific extra procedures. And the special status of the area as a tribal area can only be changed with the consent of the people, represented in a tribal jarga.
PATA Regulations were challenged under the context that they were in opposition of Articles 8 and 25 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973 and hence the PATA regulations were declared null and void (Div Bench of High Court on 24th Nov, 1990). This paved the way for TNSM demands for the enforcement of Islamic laws and make the judicial system an Islamic one.
Hence, constitutionally and legally the imposition of Shariat in SWAT has historical context and “good in law”. (The part where it says after ascertaining the views of the local people will always be a victim of interpretation).
ROLE of POLICE:
The police contributed significantly to the creation of the present situation. The indifferent and repressive behaviour of the police towards the people, bribery, torture, and their collaboration with and assistance to criminals, embittered and alienated most people. Instead of providing peace, security and assistance to the people, the police became a source of trouble for them.
Blatant police corruption, which included collecting the bhata (sum received as bribery for allowing unlawful activities) even for day to day affairs was an open secret and became the cause for much resentment.
Foreign and Pakistani intelligence agencies have also played an important role. The Pakistani and American intelligence agencies have supported militant organizations in the area for their own ends. These agencies organized and trained jihadi organizations (forerunners of the Taliban) for armed jihad (qital) to counter the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani intelligence agencies did the same (in the name of jihad) in Kashmir. The Taliban — an offshoot and conglomeration of the jihadi organizations that fought the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, also called the Soviet Union) in Afghanistan and India in Kashmir — are not only well equipped, but also well trained.
Many believe that the Taliban was the creation of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and army. Not only have they benefited from its struggle in Kashmir and Afghanistan in the past, but also regard the Taliban as useful for the future.
Syed Saleen Shahzad in his article: The Taliban get their first wish – states: “The dynamics of the region have changed once again. Nizam-i-Adal Regulation 2009, which proclaims the enforcement of sharia law in Malakand division, is indeed a written document of Pakistan’s defeat in the American-inspired war in NWFP”
Interesting he also points out: ”
Another thought provoking and brilliant article from Pakistan – written by Pervez Hoodbhoy:” The Saudi – isation of Pakistan.” Hoodbhoy writes: “The common belief in Pakistan is that Islamic radicalism is a problem only in FATA, and that madrassas are the only institutions serving as jihad factories. This is a serious misconception. Extremism is breeding at a ferocious rate in public and private schools within Pakistan’s towns and cities. Left unchallenged, this education will produce a generation incapable of co-existing with anyone except strictly their own kind. The mindset it creates may eventually lead to Pakistan’s demise as a nation state.”
CLEAR & PRESENT DANGER:
(Back of Dr Rome’s report & citations) Interestingly, in the backdrop of the Mumbai attacks of 26 December 2008 and the Indian threats to Pakistan, the Pakistan army spokesman has termed Baitullah Mahsud and Fazlullah their brothers (see Tanweer Qaisar Shahid, ‘Musla’, Roznama Express Peshawar (Urdu daily: Peshawar), 20 December 2008). And in a special interview, Muhammad Alam alias Binaurai—an important figure and commandern of the Tahrik Taliban Swat—has said that if the government is honest in restoring law and order it shall enforce Islamic law practically; all members of Tahrik Taliban will become well-wishers of the government and fully cooperate. He asked the government to immediately practically enforce Islamic law in Swat and use the power of all the Taliban against India and America (see Roznama Azadi Swat (Urdu daily: Mingawara, Swat), 18 December 2008).