Appeasement unending -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Appeasement unending

The MMA government of the NWFP has finally struck a deal with the maulvi who in the past had asked his followers to resist polio vaccination.

This is the same cleric who once said in an interview that he saw no reason for women to venture outside their homes –not even to get an education.

When asked why not even an education, he said there was no need for women to be educated because their duty was to remain in the home. According to this deal, which shouldn’t have been made in the first place, the maulana will give up his opposition to vaccination against polio (those who die from the crippling disease, which mostly strikes children, are “martyrs,” in his view).

At the same time, he will stop his virulent campaign against girls’ education.It should be remembered that the said cleric happens to be a son-in-law of that other firebrand, Maulana Soofi Mohammad of the Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi.

The signing of the deal means, if the provincial government is to be believed, that the cleric will have overnight given up his fanaticism, presumably till such time that it no longer suits his politics.

There’s no guarantee that the maulana’s radical concessions are not part of a temporary bargain to save the FM station from which he has been spewing his fanatical poison unchallenged.

On the other hand, we’ll never know if the government of Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani itself suggested the compromise to the maulana to justify its own capitulation. After all, it suits the MMA to have such an FM station before the elections.

Its own acts of fanaticism in the nearly five years it has been in power include banning the music trade, shutting down theatres and looking the other way when activists of the various parties that make up the MMA went about Peshawar and painted all advertising billboards carrying the faces of women black.

But the most objectionable element in the agreement is that it permits the continuation of the FM station that has no licence to operate. This permission is almost certain to encourage other fanatics to start FM stations in NWFP, and there’s no telling that they won’t take up the maulana’s pro-polio, anti-women campaign from where he’s leaving off.

Besides, would any other citizen of Pakistan be allowed to operate an FM station without first obtaining a licence from PEMRA? If the answer to that is in the negative, then why the concession to an individual whose views are bigoted and extreme and who has proven by his actions (among them asking his followers to resist vaccination for their children because that is a US-Jewish conspiracy to make the faithful sterile) to be someone who is better suited to living in the Dark Ages? Surely, the government can see that this is the same kind of illogical appeasement that was (and is being) made to the Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid fanatics.

Why can’t the authorities deal firmly with Maulana Fazlullah, who at this stage is still little more than a nuisance? Since the NWFP government has now proved that it can’t — or won’t — do this, the federal government must step in, nullify the deal and ask him to wind up his illegal radio station.
Source: The News
Date:5/24/2007