Sunday Times quotes Wali of Swat as saying Taliban aiming for whole country
* Says government should have sought his advice
Miangul Aurangzeb would be the ruler of Swat had it not been brought under Pakistan rule in 1969. The family retained the title and a few palaces. Today, he sits in exile.
“They [Taliban] have to be stopped, for it’s not just Swat they’re aiming at but the whole country,” he said. “I’m very sad to see what has happened to my homeland and my people. Everyone I know is out.” He talks of fishing, trekking and river rafting – of the mountains, rivers and lakes that gave Swat its reputation as the Switzerland of Pakistan. “Now we’re known for Taliban rather than tourism,” he tells The Sunday Times.
Advice: Aurangzeb is peeved that the government has not sought his advice. “Swat was extremely well run under the rule of the Wali,” he said. “It was autocratic – you couldn’t call it democratic – but it was better than democratic when you consider Pakistan’s experience of democracy.”
Education was a priority of his grandfather, who was known as the Akhund of Swat, before the title changed to Wali. He set up the first primary school in 1922 and the first girls’ school in 1926, sending his soldiers door to door to persuade parents to enrol their children. Yet, the Wali says, he can understand why people initially supported the local Taliban leader, Fazlullah, giving him money and jewellery.
“Fazlullah appealed to poor people who were fed up with corruption and the lack of justice,” he said. Under the Wali’s rule, the area had its own justice system, over which he presided. “It was our own kind of [Islamic law] coupled with local customs,” he explained. “There was no cutting off of hands or amputations but cases were decided at once. It was fast and effective. When Swat became part of Pakistan we lost all that.” Aurangzeb blames the West and former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf for the rise of the Taliban. He believes Swat is paying the price for the West sending its forces into Afghanistan.
“When Musharraf decided to give full backing to the Americans to defeat the Taliban it was a stab in the back and they were bound to take revenge. We Pashtuns are very revengeful people.”
He also believes Musharraf deliberately turned a blind eye to the spread of the Taliban to frighten the West into supporting him. “What happened in Swat could have been sorted out by two policemen if they had wanted to three years ago,” he said.