Editorial: The growing insurgency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is worrying. In two different incidents this monday, students became the prime victims of attacks by militants in Swat. The day of attack happens to be the same as ten years ago, when Malala Yousafzai was shot at. Taliban seems to be giving a clear message that they are back with full power and have not ‘updated’ since their last retreat.
Just months ago, the state held several meetings with Taliban leaders, allegedly without consent from the provincial government. The parleys, as is evident, have gone in vain – or is what we are witnessing in KP the direct result of those negotiations? The people in Swat would agree with the latter, since they have substantial historical and experiential evidence to suggest state’s direct involvement in what Mohsin Dawar aptly referred to as ‘throwing Pashtuns to the wolves.’
People have come out in large numbers in Mingora and elsewhere in Swat, to reject re-talibanisation of their land, making it clear that they have got no more to lose this time and hence, would not tolerate repetition of a bloodied history. Pashtun youth of today are discontent with the state of Pakistan and its covert support to insurgents. They are ready to give a hard time to ‘geo-strategic calculations’ of Islamabad and will definitely not take being a ‘collateral damage’ this time. People along the Pashtun belt have seen enough; shouldered enough dead bodies, and been thrown back enough times into ‘stone age’. They will take it no more – it’s a war, and this time, the state will lose more than just credibility.
Taliban’s triumph was celebrated with zeal and fervour by state elements , with leaders going as far as to term it the breaking of ‘shackles of slavery’. One minister, in his euphoria, sent a letter congratulating Mullah Habitullah for his forces’ swift takeover of Afghanistan. The ease with which Taliban have laid siege to the province, forming a ‘shadow government’ raises many questions on our agencies. It was clearly evident even at the time of Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan, that it would inevitably entail the same fate for those living along the Durand line, on this side of the border. But Pashtun lives are worth less than Punjabi lives, and certainly Pashtun women can do without educational opportunities.
This hatred for Pashtuns and by extension, of all marginalized ethnicities is dangerously seeping across educational institutions around the country. In a recent clash, students from hard-line fundamentalist Islami Jamiat Talba attacked and injured several students in University of the Punjab. While their land has been sold off to vultures-in-beards, Pashtun students are facing increased harassment and torture at the hands of state sponsored right wingers in campuses of Punjab.
None of our high commands in establishment have a plan, nor did they ever have, to deal with those cannibals across the border who have crept on to this side, a little ‘too easily’. They are calmly, and unobstructedly, making headway into the province and would soon be shutting down schools and barring females from education like they did in Afghanistan. But none of this is keeping our rulers up at night or giving them nightmares, like it is doing to us.
It has come to this – youth and students from across the country need to step forward, pour into streets and shriek this time, loud and clear – that no decisions would be taken without us; no deals made without our input; no authority be accepted that sabotages our rights and no system tolerated that undermines our very survival. Pashtun students are not collateral damage, and all students and progressive actors across the country should stand alongside them to fight for their right to education, and life.