ISLAMABAD, Oct 10: Political rivals in the Senate on Wednesday used the debate on the terrorist attack on Swat girl Malala Yousufzai to blame one another’s policies about militancy.
Though, all the senators belonging to major political parties were unanimous in condemning the dastardly attack, a clear divide was visible in the house between those supporting the ongoing war on terror and those opposing it.
Senator Mushahidullah Khan of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) joined the religious-minded senators in declaring that the war on terror was not in the country’s interests and that it had been imposed on Pakistan by the US.
On the other hand, the PPP senators said that those who believed that it was not Pakistan’s war were “living in the fool’s paradise”.
When some senators, particularly those belonging to the Awami National Party (ANP) and Hasil Bizenjo of the National Party (NP), opposed the role of religion in state affairs and called for propagating secular views in the country, they were bitterly criticised by members belonging to the religious parties.
The two stalwarts of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and Raza Rabbani — held the state responsible for the rising tide of militancy and extremism in the country because it always made compromises and never stood firmly against the forces exploiting religion.
Giving an example, Mr Ahsan flayed the government’s decision of blocking YouTube website, and said if there was one “filthy book” in a library containing 10 million books then it did not mean that the whole library should be closed.
Mr Rabbani was of the view that the country was facing the present confusing situation due to the “failure of the democratic, progressive and political forces which have always made compromises and digressed from the ideological path set by the Quaid-i-Azam”.
An independent senator from tribal areas, Saleh Shah, and Hasil Bizenjo of the NP in their speeches took the ANP — the ruling party in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) — to task for entering into an agreement with Maulana Sufi Muhammad for enforcement of Nizam-i-Adl in Swat in 2009 which, according to them, provided an opportunity to the Taliban to get hold of the area.
ANP’s Afrasiab Khattak and Ilyas Bilour, however, defended their provincial government’s decision and said that it was actually done to provide an opportunity to the fighting Taliban to come to the negotiating table, They said when the agreement brought no results, a massive operation was launched in Swat and the militants were expelled from the area.
Mr Khattak alleged that it was the five-year rule of the religious parties’ alliance Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) in the province that allowed the militants to propagate their views through 30 FM channels. It was during the MMA’s rule that the Taliban were allowed to transport arms and ammunition by using roads.
ANP’s Haji Adeel warned that if the political parties did not take a clear stance on the issue of terrorism, the country would become a fundamentalist state.
Another ANP Senator Shahi Syed claimed that the Taliban had forced the party to close a number of its offices in the city of Karachi. Without naming the MQM, he said that those who were celebrating the closure of their offices would be the next target of the Taliban.
Senator Nasreen Jalil of the MQM said the political parties which had allowed the Taliban to stay in their strongholds should be asked to clarify their stance whether they supported the vision of the Quaid-i-Azam or that of the Taliban.
Senator Hasil Bizenjo held the policies of former military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq responsible for the rise in extremism and sectarianism, saying that it was Gen Zia who had made the religion a state property. He alleged that the state even today was promoting religious extremism. “You cannot stop extremism without separating religion from state,” he said.
Referring to the recent sectarian killings in Quetta, Mr Bizenjo alleged that the city was witnessing a war between the groups backed by two countries. He claimed the group backed by Saudi Arabia was killing those who were believed to have their origin from Iraq.
Mufti Abdus Sattar of the JUI-F said that Islam was the state religion under Article 2 of the Constitution and those who spoke against Islam were actually anti-state people.
Senator Saleh Shah said that everyone was condemning the attack on Malala but regretted that no one talked about other similar girls being killed in drone attacks in Fata and Balochistan province.