Tribesmen have sensed that US President George W. Bush wants some more blood to shed as he appears to find satisfaction in shedding the blood of human beings.
All of sudden a war-like situation has been created in Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border. The security forces and alleged Taliban have been exchanging fire the entire day. All the people, including women and children, were seen running for their lives.
Actually, Chairperson of Pakistan People's Party Benazir Bhutto was on her first visit to Peshawar, the capital North West Frontier Province, the area inhabited by the Pashtuns. The rulers do not want to give a chance to the former prime minister to establish contacts with the people, as after Bhutto's success, then they will be unable to play their negative role. Then they will be unable to breed terrorism, which is being used a source for earning dollars.
Most of the tribesmen view terrorism as a major threat to all humanity, and believe it should be eliminated through political means. Through force, its elimination is almost impossible, as some eight years have passed in this mad war on terrorism, and it is only strengthening. Political leadership of Pakistan and tribal areas should be involved in this struggle against terrorism. The Army alone cannot deliver positive results.
According to a report, three militants were killed and three others injured in two encounters between the local Taliban and Bajaur Scouts personnel here on Saturday. Officials said a group of armed Taliban went to a market in Khar in a pick-up. The Bajaur Scouts personnel encircled them and asked them to lay down arms, but they refused and hurled a grenade and opened fire on the scouts.
The security personnel retaliated and in the exchange of fire, one of the militants was killed. The other militants fled, leaving behind his body.
Political Agent Shafeerullah Khan a newspaper that the killed militant had two identity cards in different names — Saeedullah and Ayaz — and he belonged to South Waziristan. The authorities handed over his body to the local Taliban leadership. The militants’ pick-up was impounded.
They added that the scouts opened fire on the pick-up, killing two men and injuring three others. One of the dead men was identified as Sherzada. The injured were taken to hospital.
Local people said tension gripped the area after the encounters and bazaars in the agency were closed.
According to a newspaper comment on Pakistan situation, the PPP chief, Ms Benazir Bhutto, has launched her party’s manifesto Friday for an election in which she will participate under protest. According to the manifesto, if the PPP comes to power, its policies would be based on five Es: employment, education, energy, environment and equality. Pegged to employment — something that the people have come to expect from the party — the policies will strive for “employment opportunities” for people through various initiatives, including “a Public Works Programme, which would provide guaranteed employment for one working member of 25 percent of the poorest families in the country for at least a year”.
Ms Bhutto further stated that “literacy schemes would be initiated with the objective of providing short-term employment to educated youth”, and “reforms would be initiated in madrassas and syllabuses” and that “madrassas would be purged of arms”. She pledged to lift the ban on student unions, too. She will revive her party’s “1996 scheme of Apna Ghar”, which would provide free boarding schools for socially and economically disadvantaged children. On the much-troubled sector of energy, “her party will work on bio-fuel technology and form a team of experts for it”. She will mobilise the communities on environment, helping the people overcome water shortage, climate change and eco-degradation. For social justice, the party will move forward under the old party banner of Roti (bread), Kapra (clothes) and Makan (house).
But let’s face it. All over the world party manifestoes have stopped meaning anything to the voters. In the advanced countries, they cloy with their uniformity: you can no longer tell Labour apart from Conservative mainly because of the narrowing options in the realm of the economy which dictates against public spending. In the third world, manifestoes have stopped exciting people because the national economy is never buoyant enough to allow space for collection and spending. If the rains are bad and virus has attacked the crops, all indicators go down and the economy needs help from the foreign-rich instead of providing help to the domestic-poor of the country. Socialist slogans once worked their magic. But after nationalisation went wrong in Pakistan the idea of pruning the rich and beefing up the poor is no longer credible. Not even in India, where poverty has outlasted the Nehruvian model.
For everything else the PPP will have to look after the economy and make it user-friendly for the private sector. It will need to allocate funds for the infrastructure; and its Public Works Programme will certainly absorb a lot of the jobless if it is handled efficiently. If the infrastructure is developed through the private sector, it will work; if it is handled by the bureaucracy it will be familiar disaster. Past record on this is not good. Special housing schemes started by the PMLN during its term in office fizzled out more likely because the term was never completed. Stepping into sectors like transport where the private sector is already performing well would be ill-advised.
Should manifestoes include such pledges as the party will never try to topple its rival from power because incomplete terms affect the economy most negatively? And that the party will never opt for nuclear testing as a means of enhancing national pride because it isolates the country, undermines the economy and increases poverty which destroys a nation’s honour more effectively than eschewing war. And that the party will avoid international isolation at all costs even if the masses are shouting for it in the streets. And that the party will quickly normalise its relations with its neighbours, including India, and break the state’s resistance to receiving investment from there just as it asks for investment from the Western economies.