Peshawar trembling

The Frontier Post
Commitment to Journalism

Not long ago, Peshawar was such a wonderful place to live in; a pleasantly peaceful, tranquil and lovely metropolis it then was. Even on the atrocious watch of the holy fathers, this capital city of the Frontier Province wasn’t as scary a place as has it become now in just a few months of the ANP-led rule. Rampaging lawlessness has become this beleaguered metropolis’s saddening watchword. Just in the past two days, this seat of the Pakhtun pride and honour was a witness to two ignoble criminal acts. In one, an American aid worker was murdered by gunmen along with his local driver. In the other, an Iranian diplomat was kidnapped by armed thugs, who gunned down his guard. Earlier, the Afghan ambassador-designate was similarly seized in the city two months ago and till-date he remains untraced. All these criminal acts were, notably, perpetrated in the provincial capital’s posh quarters, having a greater measure of security. Yet, no feather seems this criminality to have ruffled in any niche of the ruling ANP tribe and its subordinate official hierarchy. Indeed, while criminals of every type and of every category are having a field day, not just in Peshawar but all over the province, the ANP troupes are just entertaining the folks with lullabies, of which they have had enough by now. The ANP tribe talks big but acts small. It makes a brave talk but walks not this talk. It speaks of great Pakhtun traditions but practises these not. It sings of non-violence creed of its great leaders but shows itself to be no worthy followers of theirs. The people are really bored and fed with its incessant hymns and songs. And now they want this ANP tribe, for a change, to do some administrating, instead of keep tormenting them with its intermittent haranguing, hectoring, sermonising and pious vowing. And that is where the tribe is, so far, coming a cropper. The Tuesday’s suicide bombing of the metropolis’s sports stadium could give it an excuse, even as slim. But it can have no excuse at all for failing in averting and stopping the incidence of kidnapping, abductions, robberies, thefts, and street murders and crimes. There obviously is a culpable flaw with its policing and governance. Its top hierarchy’s oft-repeated assertion that it had struck peace deals with the extremists but those were aborted by some third party doesn’t wash. To come convincing, it must specifically identify that third party, which it does not, giving the sense that it is just lying. In any case, the popular perception is that it went for those deals expediently, without doing the proper homework and without making adequate preparations, just to accumulate a few brownie, but uncertain, points. In tatters is thus its peace deal in Swat where Fazlullah in effect used the accord to regroup his mauled thugs. And its Malakand deal with Sufi Mohammad too is in deep troubles, with that old ogre camping out with his fanatical flocks now for over a month to have the accord executed the way he wills. The ANP tribe must understand that governance is very serious, tedious and complex business. It admits of no shallowness, no populism, no bunk talk. It requires mature thinking, creative ideas, wise counsels, pragmatic approaches and practicable strategies. It needs deeds, not words. And this tribe has to show all this in it if it wants to succeed in overcoming what is troubling the province so horrendously. Hitherto, this ANP tribe had been figuring up, at best, as a junior partner in ruling coalitions in the province. It is for the first time that it is in the vanguard of a rainbow governing coalition. And it shouldn’t let this opportunity to earn it good name in annals go waste with its shallowness, inaction, inertia and opportunism that it is presently putting on display.

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Dated: Saturday, November 15, 2008, Zi'qad 16, 1429 A.H.

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