The National Assembly on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the ‘ban’ imposed by militants on girls’ education and destruction of schools in Swat. The resolution, moved by Information and Broadcasting Minister Sherry Rehman, called for rebuilding the schools and protecting schoolgoing children. Observers, however, noted that the resolution contained no plan to combat extremists, who have destroyed more than 200 schools so far.
It became clear soon after the Mumbai attacks in India that, once again, something went seriously wrong in Pakistan. Reports came out that the sole surviving terrorist was from Pakistan. The Pakistani daily Dawn's reporters visited the village of Faridkot in Punjab and managed to trace down the family. The paper wrote:
the man who said he was Amir Kasab confirmed to Dawn that the young man whose face had been beamed over the media was his son. For the next few minutes, the fifty-something man of medium build agonized over the reality that took time sinking in, amid sobs complaining about the raw deal the fate had given him and his family.“I was in denial for the first couple of days, saying to myself it could not have been my son,” he told Dawn in the courtyard of his house in Faridkot, a village of about 2,500 people just a few kilometres from Deepalpur on the way to Kasur. “Now I have accepted it.“This is the truth. I have seen the picture in the newspaper. This is my son Ajmal.”
And yet, the Pakistani government continued to obfuscate the matter. A "Washington Post" reporter visiting the village found that every movement was closely monitored by Pakistani intelligence agencies. Why, if they had nothing to hide? When a report by GEO TV confirmed the Dawn story, a politician filed a case against the TV channel for "anti-state activity". Only when it was really no longer possible, the government accepted that Ajmal Kasab was from Pakistan.
So what about the so-called Pakistani "crackdown" on Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, aka Jama'at-ud-Dawa - the extremist groups said to be behind the Mumbai attacks? Just an eyewash again, according to media reports. It is safe to assume that ever since 9/11, the vast majority of the so-called "clampdowns" on extremists in Pakistan were at best symbolic, and often enough those to be "attacked" were warned beforehand. In a recent detailed article about why the US remains worried about Pakistan's nuclear weapons, New York Times reporter David E. Sanger narrates the example how Pakistan's Prime Minister Gillani intended to impress his hosts with the news of an attack against an extremist madrassa when he visited the US last summer:
Though Gilani never knew it, Bush was aware of this gift in advance. The National Security Agency had picked up intercepts indicating that a Pakistani unit warned the leadership of the school about what was coming before carrying out its raid... When the “attack” on the madrassa came, the Pakistani forces grabbed a few guns and hauled away a few teenagers. Sure enough, a few days later Gilani showed up in the Oval Office and conveyed the wonderful news to Bush: the great crackdown on the madrassas had begun. The officials in the room — Bush; his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley; and others — did not want to confront Gilani with the evidence that the school had been warned... Indeed, Gilani may not even have been aware that his gift was a charade: Bush and Hadley may well have known more about the military’s actions than the prime minister himself.
Pakistan's military and political establishment is still playing silly games with the extremists instead of fighting them. Unfortunately, all indications from Swat, the tribal areas and other places are that these tactics have made the Taliban too strong already - and it won't be possible to get rid of them any time soon.