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Monday, September 29, 2008

How Do You Solve A Problem Like the Pashtun?

How Do You Solve A Problem Like the Pashtun?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Akmal Lewanai.......

Khodaya Paka Be Hesaba dawlat raka
Da che sa bankuna dee,tol zama ka
50 zara jreba zmaka me pakar da
Tata grana na da,ser me muda'aa ka

Akmal Lewanay - A uniuqe insane of my homeland

By Dr Yaseen Iqbal Yousafzai
A poetry concert in the memory of Sher Mohammad Mainosh was at its peak in the late seventies (in village Toolandai, Swabi) and I was one of the passers by who were attracted to watch and listen to the poets.

I had hardly found a place to accommodate myself that the stage secretary invited a strange name to present his poetic gratitude to Mainosh Baba.

By hearing the name, my eyes turned away from the stage towards a smart, ambitious young man, dressed in black Malaishia clothes with a sharp dark beard, running to the stage.

The features I can recall were of a 25 to 30 years-old young man. Yes, all the features I saw were matching the name ‘Akmal Lewanay’ (Akmal, the insane) but in those days, I was even more insane than him to understand his poetry and message.

The poetry concert came to its end and like everyone else I also disappeared.

Today, after almost 25 years, I again happened to listen and watch to a poetry concert in the memory of well-known Pushto poet Khyber Afridi in Jamrud and again heard the same name ‘Akmal Lewanay’.

The picture of the young Akmal I had in my mind changed completely. Today, he was not that young and smart. He needed a support even to climb a couple of stairs. He did not even appear insane to me. Yes, he was still presenting his poetry in his unique humorous style and entertained the audience to its best but his message was that of a selfless, true and sincere intellectual.

Probably, I was now grown enough to understand the message he wanted to convey. When Akmal sahib started to present his great poem, “Wazeer-i-Azam”, a Pukhtun intellectual setting nearby me whispered, “Akmal sahib is doing a true post-mortem of our political icons”.

Every line of his poetry was artistically reflecting the common man’s feelings. Although, his only book of poetry I came across was the 3rd edition of “Tortum” (Deep Dark), with a preface by Pukhto Baba-i-Ghazal, Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari but he has published several books such as Yaw So Guloona (a few flowers), Rahbar-i-Ishq (the love guide), Lewanai (the female insane) and Goozaroona (the strikes).

He is even more popular for his humorous Qitaat always full of constructive criticism but the book I read had none of them.

Most of his poetry is in the ghazal form with a small number of poems. The language of his poetry is very simple. His message is very straightforward and has simultaneously decorated most of his poetry with attractive colours of humour.

All these qualities make him a unique name in the modern day Pukhto poetry. Although, he has written on many subjects but the criticism of bright-day socio-economic injustices is very dominant in his poetry.

His poetry carries every colour a Pukhtun expects from his mother tongue. Regarding the self-pride, he says, “if death is certain, then why should it not be for self-pride, so that you are remembered for ever.”

If he talks of his national helplessness, he says, “Oh, the insane people! How do you know about your pains and pleasures. Do not turn on the candles, darkness is a better hiding place for the helpless.”

He uses every way he can to entertain Pukhtuns. According to Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari, “if a curtain is dropped between Akmal and the audience and Akmal narrates my poetry in my voice from behind the veil, everyone will believe that this is Hamza. He can very skillfully speak in the voice of his several contemporary poets like Khyber Afridi, Ayub Sabir, Samandar Khan Samandar and many others”.

Keeping in view the eternal smile on his face, his straight-forward criticism of the lords of the day and the number of books he had published in his mother tongue, everyone will guess him a very rich and self-sufficient man but unfortunately it is not the case. Born in 1947, in village Shamozai of Katlang (Mardan) in the house of Syal Khan Baba, young Mohammad Akmal Khan used to earn his bread by bringing woods from the mountains and selling it in the local market.

Years ago, due to a disease, his legs refused to climb the mountains and earn him bread. So, the poor and proud Akmal, who used to serve his mother tongue (when he was healthy) by writing poetry, started selling Pushto books.

This great poet is not only writing and presenting his lovely poetry in his unique Pakhtun voice but is also carrying with him a considerable number of Pushto books from Hujra to Hujra in all over the Pukhtun’s land to make them available to everyone interested and thus earn his bread.

Unfortunately, he is always the last man to leave the venue of poetry concerts and re-load the books on his back to carry them back home as Pukhtuns are not used to read books in general and Pushto books in special. And this reminds me Dr Sher Zaman Taizi’s couplet, “Every hostile power came to its end but could not harm Pushto and this proves the miraculous nature of Pushto.”

And to me, these miracles are in the form of insane lovers of Pushto like Akmal Lewanay who could not live a comfortable life among his fellow beings but could earn a unique name in the history of pushto literature, “A unique insane of my homeland.”

Tha Akmal lewantob ...........Dr.Israr

ليک : ډاکټر اسرار

اکمل ليونی په ړومبي ځل ما د مردان په يوه مشاعره کې يو شل کالۀ به ېې کيږي چې ليدلی او اوريدلی و- د څو ټوقو ټقالو نه علاوه ېې چې دغلته کوم غزل په خپل مخصوص ترنم کې اورولی و ، دا يو شعر ېې ماته د هغه وخت نه ياد دی

کم عقله خلکه تاسو غم او ښادي څه پيژنۍ
تيارۀ بې وسو له پرده ده ډيوې مه بلوۍ

ددغه شعر په وجه ورسره زما پيژندګلي پيدا شوه - دده اهميت او دده شعري استعداد راته معلوم شو - بيا چې په کومه مشاعره کې اکمل ليونی موجود ؤ ، نو خوشاله به ووم چې ځه که خير وي ، مشاعره به کاميابه او خوندناکه وي - او اوريدونکي به دا نه شي وئېلی چې دا موږ چاته راغونډ شوي يو

اکمل ليونے زما نه ډير مخکې د مردان شاعرانو پيژندلے او خوښ کړے وؤ او يوازې د مردان ملګرو څۀ چې اکمل د ميډيا د مدد نه بغير خپل شعر د ترنم د خوږو سره د پښتونخوا ګوټ ګوټ ته رسولی دے - او د لکونو پښتنو نه ېې داد اخستے دی -
اکمل وايي
ما د حيا نه پوهـ ځان ناپوهـ کړے ورته
داسې نور کم خلک پوهيږي څنګ چې زه پوهيږم
ددې داخلي شهادت په رڼا کې موږ وئېلے شو چې دے ليونی نه دے - خپل کور کلی ، لاره کوڅه ، حجره جومات ، خپل پردی ، دوست دښمن او خپله ډله ټپله پيژني -دے وايي چې ؛ ما د حيا نه ؛ خو زه وايم چې ده له قصده په دې غرض دا تخلص خوښ کړے دے ، دے د ليونو په جامه کې ګرځي ، د خلکو او د چاپير چل تماشه کوي ، ګوري چې دا خلک دا د کلو ، ښاريو او بازارونو خلک ، دا سرمايه دار ، جاګيردار ، دوکانداران ، زمينداران ، عالمان ، ليډران او د حکومت واکداران او اهلکاران څه کوي؟ دوۍ په ظاهره څنګه دي او ددوې باطن څنګه دے ، دی چې څه ويني ګوري ، په لفظونو کې د هغې تصويرونه جوړوي - او دغه د شعر تصويري آئينه خلکو ته مخامخ نيسي چې دا تاسو ېئ او دا ستاسو کارونه او دا ستاسو نمونې دي او ورته وايي

دې ژړا ويراو ماتؤنو ته دې خيال دے
دې قتلونو دې مرګونو ته دې خيال دے
انسانان لکه څاروي پکې خرڅيږي
دې ميلو دې بازارونو ته دې خيال دے
چې غل بري کړي کوټوال غريب پانسي کړي
د انصاف عدالتونو ته دې خيال دے
اسلام نه اسلام آباد ورپکې ستايي
دې وعظونو تقريرونو ته دې خيال دے

اکمل ليونے د خلکو شاعر دے - د اولس شاعر دے -او د اظهار لپاره ېې د اولس اسانه ژبه غوره کړيده - ځکه چې دده مخاطب عام اولس او ټول خلک دے - او هغوۍ ته هم د هغوۍ په روزمره او محاوره کې نيغه په نيغه خبره کوي - کله په سنجيده انداز ، خو زياتره په مزاحيه انداز کې خپل خيال وړاندې کوي - دده مزاح او طنز مقصدي او تعميري دے - ځکه چې دی د خلکو خيال او پام د هغوۍ غلطو ، کمزورو،ګمراهو او منافقتونو ته راګرځوي - دده د نظمونو او غزلونو هم دغه مرکزي موضوع ده - دۀ خپل غمونه هير کړي او د خلکو غمونه ېې خپل کړيدي - دا خبره دے په يو رنګ او کله په بل رنګ کې د خلکو مخې ته ږدي - ؛ ځمه ددې کلي نه ؛ نومې نظم کې ېې دغه غم څه په دې رنګ ژړلی دے :
نور ورپکې نه اوسمه ځمه ددې کلي نه
کډه په حيا کې چرته وړمه ددې کلي نه
نور ورپکې نه اوسمه زړه مې ترې موړ شوی دے
ننګ غيرت د خلکو د زړګو نه نچوړ شوی دے
اوس د پښتنو تاريخ هير شوے دے زوړ شوے دے
څه به وايم ښاری ناپرسان ترېنه جوړ شوے دے
زه خو قدرتي له وېرې مرمه ددې کلي نه
کډه په حيا کې چرته وړمه ددې کلي نه
دا چې
ختم شريفان شو بدمعاشان ېې مشري کوي
وينم چې د امن قاتلان ېې مشري کوي
نوره مې د خېر نه کيږي طمعه ددې کلي نه
کډه په حيا کې چرته وړمه ددې کلي نه
په نني وخت کې دا د پښتنو د هر کلي نقشه ده - چې اکمل په لفظونو کې راکښلې ده ؛ اوسه پکې مه؛ ، ؛غل؛ ، ؛انصاف؛ او ؛ حق او باطل؛ نومې نظمونو کې ېې هم دغه ژړا ده -
اکمل ليونےيو نظرياتي او قام پرست شاعر دے - داسې شاعر چې تشې خبرې نه کوي قول ېې د عمل او عمل ېې د قول مطابق دے - د پښتنو د قامي تحريک سره پوخ تړون او کلکه وابستګي لري - ړوند تقليد نه کوي - په نورو د تنقيد کولو سره د خپلې ډلې د ليډرانو په کمزورو او غلطو هم تنقيد کوي - په ځينو نظمونو لکه انقلاب ، پښتو او پښتون ، چغه ، پښتونخوا او د مزدور حال ېې سياسي رنګ زيات غالب دے چې خپله قامي او طبقاتي وابستګي ېې پکې ښکاره کړيده ، په ؛ رښتيا ؛ نومې نظم کې پرې د پتولا د ډډې شوی دے
زه په خپل کور کې د اوبو ډوډۍ حق دار يم کنه
ما نه چا اونکړله پښتنه چې نهار يم کنه
د دوزخي ګيډې له لاسه ګناهنګار يم کنه
دومره څوک نه وايي چې روغ يم که بيمار يم کنه
د وطن داسې مشرانو ته به څه اووايم
دې پښتنو ته به په خپله ژبه مړه اووايم
اکمل ليونے ډير ګرځيدلے او لوبيدلے شاعر دے، د ډيرو تماشو نه پس په دې نتيجه رسيدلے دے چې

دروغ وايي رښتيا خبره کوم ده چې چا اوکړه
ښه سپينه او صفا خبره کوم ده چې چا اوکړه
جرګه کې د سپين روبو بزرګانو مشرانو
د غلو هغه د غلا خبره کوم ده چې چا اوکړه
هر خوا ته د مړې خيټې خبرې دي چې کيږي
د وږو د مرضا خبره کوم ده چې چا اوکړه
(ګلونو ماشومانو) او (سپرليه په خيرونو) کې اکمل د خپلې شاعرۍ يو بل رنګ هم ښودلے دے - په ړومبي نظم کې ېې چې د قام ماشومانو ته لکه د لقمان حکيم کومې د کار خبرې کړې دي ، هغه د نوټ کولو جوګه دي - په دوهم نظم کې ېې د سپرلي د راتلو ښکلې منظر کشي کړيده -
دې للمو ته چې ګورم پکښې پولې که پټي دي
قدرت پرې غوړولي څادرونه د شينکي دي
راکاږي ځان ته زړونه ښکلاګانې د فصلونو --- سپرليه په خيرونو
پېشتری که چيلو ، کورکمانے که تروپکے دے
قدرت پرې دور راوستو که کندو کې شلخے دے

اکمل ليوني په دې کتاب کې غزلونه هم شامل کړيدي - د غزل په شعرونو کې ېې هم پختګي شته - ژبه ېې اسانه او روانه ده - د سنجيدګۍ نه ور کې د مزاح او طنز چاشني زياته ده -
وخت د رښتياؤ دی په زوره وايم
ما له خبره په مزه نه راځي
ښکليه ياره چې ېې څومره ترخوې ته
عجيبه ده لا خوږيږي ستا خبرې
ما درسره سم سپين ږيری ځان وړوکے کړيدے
يه د ليوني اکمل جانانه مجبوري مې ده
دې وخت د ملاقات کې خو څوک مه راولی خدايه
د لاسه مې نيولی ، ودرولی دی جانان
سرۀ سپين د چا نه ، نه وړم کليوالو تنګ نظرو
د مينې ليونی د ديدن غلا ته اوړم راوړم
داسې به په دې مجموعه کې لوستونکي د اکمل نور ډير ښه ښه شعرونه ولولي او پوره خوند به ترې واخلي - په دې مجموعه کې څو مرثېې او څو سهرې هم شاملې دي - غم او خوشحالي د انسان ژوند سره تړلي څيزونه دي - د ملګرو په وادۀ خوشحالۍ ، خوشحاله کيدل او په جداېې ېې غمجن کيدل قدرتي خبره هم ده - او د شاعر د خپلو دوستانو مشرانو او کشرانو سره مينه او علاقه مندي هم ښکاره کوي- او د ټولنيز ژوند سره دده کلک تړون هم څرګندوي -

دا د اکمل د شعرونو دريمه مجموعه ده چې د پښتو ژبې مئينانو ته ېې ډالۍ کوي - اکمل پښتانۀ او پښتانۀ اکمل پيژني - چې يو رښتونی شاعر دے - مخلص دے - په دې غريبه غريبۍ کې او په داسې وخت کې چې د څنګ ډير ملګري ېې په يوه يا بله بهانه د قافلې نه بېل شوي دي ، دۀ د باچا خان د پښتو ، پښتونولۍ او د پښتون د وحدت او ورورولۍ بيرغ هسک نيولے دے - ځکه خو د پښتنو اکمل ليونے او دده شاعري خوښه ده - ددۀ شعرونه په ډير شوق اوري او ددۀ کتابونه اخلي او لولي ېې -

محفل کې د خبرو د کؤلو خلک ډير وؤ
اکمله بې له تا خبره کوم ده چې چا اوکړه
ډاکټر اسرار

هوتي مردان

Akmal Lewanay on Wali Khan

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Modernized Taliban Thrives in Afghanistan

A Modernized Taliban Thrives in Afghanistan
By Pamela Constable
The Frontier Post,Sunday, September 21, 2008, Ramadan 20, 1429 A.H.
Just one year ago, the Taliban insurgency was a furtive, loosely organized guerrilla force that carried out hit-and-run ambushes, burned empty schools, left warning letters at night and concentrated attacks in the southern rural regions of its ethnic and religious heartland. Today it is a larger, better armed and more confident militia, capable of mounting sustained military assaults. Its forces operate in virtually every province and control many districts in areas ringing the capital. Its fighters have bombed embassies and prisons, nearly assassinated the president, executed foreign aid workers and hanged or beheaded dozens of Afghans. The new Taliban movement has created a parallel government structure that includes defense and finance councils and appoints judges and officials in some areas. It offers cash to recruits and presents letters of introduction to local leaders. It operates Web sites and a 24-hour propaganda apparatus that spins every military incident faster than Afghan and Western officials can manage. "This is not the Taliban of Emirate times. It is a new, updated generation," said Waheed Mojda, a former foreign ministry aide under the Taliban Islamic Emirate, which ruled most of the country from 1996 to 2001. "They are more educated, and they don't punish people for having CDs or cassettes," he said. "The old Taliban wanted to bring sharia, security and unity to Afghanistan. The new Taliban has much broader goals -- to drive foreign forces out of the country and the Muslim world." In late 2001, U.S. forces made common cause with ethnic groups in Afghanistan's north to overthrow the Taliban, in response to Osama bin Laden's use of the country as a base. Hamid Karzai was tapped as president by the United States and other powers, then elected to the job. In the early years, much of the deeply conservative Muslim country was largely peaceful and secure. Over the past two years, the Taliban's revival has been fueled by fast-growing popular dissatisfaction with Karzai's government, which has failed to bring services and security to much of the country. Deepening public resentment against civilian deaths caused by U.S. and NATO alliance airstrikes is another factor. No one here believes that the insurgents, estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 fighters, are currently capable of seizing the capital of Kabul or toppling the government, which is backed by more than 130,000 international troops. But a series of spectacular urban attacks in recent months, notably the bombing of the Indian Embassy and an armed assault on a parade reviewing stand where Karzai sat, have turned Kabul into a maze of bunkers and barricades that drive officialdom ever farther from the public. In many regions a short drive from the capital, some of them considered safe even six months ago, residents and officials said the Taliban now controls roads and villages, patrolling in trucks and recruiting new fighters. Its members execute government employees, bomb and burn cargo trucks on the highway, and search bus passengers for foreign passports and cellphones programmed with official numbers. "Our staff members don't want to commute to the capital anymore," said Nader Nadery, an official of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. "They say, 'If the Taliban find my cellphone and call you, please tell them I am a shopkeeper.' " The Taliban is "creating an environment of fear, and it is working very well, because the people have no hope of being protected if they stand up against them," Nadery added. Abdul Jabbar, a former anti-Soviet guerrilla commander and a member of parliament from Ghazni province, said he no longer dares visit his home district. Interviewed in Kabul, he said Taliban leaders asked him to leave the government and join their cause, but he refused and now fears being killed. Last week, three Ghazni residents were hanged by the Taliban, which called them government spies. "The other day, a Taliban commander called me and said I should come help him to free Afghanistan from the foreigners," Jabbar recounted. "I asked him, 'What do you want me to do? Kill a teacher? Kidnap an engineer? Capture a U.N. vehicle?' The people are not happy about the Taliban, but the government is weak, and the foreign forces have not brought us security. What choice do we have?" In Wardak, the next province toward Kabul along a highway that is under constant Taliban attack, residents said they now ask relatives from the capital not to travel there for weddings or funerals. Roshanak Wardak, the only private obstetrician in the region, said that since last spring, Taliban leaders have recruited dozens of young men from her town. Wardak, who is also a legislator, said people in her province may not like the Taliban, but they relate to those in the movement as fellow Afghans and Muslims, at a time of growing public disenchantment with U.S. and NATO military forces. "Their popularity is increasing day by day, because the government has done nothing for our province," she said. "They take our innocent boys and tell them Islam is in danger. They offer them money and weapons. Now everyone is becoming a Talib. It is a great game, and they are the fuel." As in Ghazni, many of the Taliban supporters in Wardak are Pashtuns, members of the country's largest ethnic group. They believe that rival ethnic groups unfairly rule the country with the help of foreign soldiers. Though Karzai is a Pashtun, he is viewed in Taliban ranks as a traitor to his religion and community. One aspect of the game the Taliban now clearly dominates is the propaganda war over battlefield victories, defeats and casualties. Once composed of largely illiterate fighters and clerics who shunned modern technology as un-Islamic, the Taliban now uses a variety of high-tech means to communicate its version of events, often far faster than its adversaries. This issue has crystallized with the controversy over civilian casualties inflicted by U.S. and NATO airstrikes, especially a village bombing last month near Herat in western Afghanistan. Although civilian deaths have been frequent and real, officials say the Taliban quickly broadcasts exaggerated tolls, stoking public anger, while foreign military officers may take days to respond. "We are definitely not winning the information war, and we have to reverse that," said Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, the chief spokesman for NATO forces here. He said the Taliban uses such tactics as hiding in farm compounds, dressing dead fighters in civilian clothes and then denouncing foreign forces for bombing villagers. "They don't have to bother with the truth," Blanchette said. Today's Taliban also has a much greater degree of formal organization. The old Taliban was disastrous at governing, and ministries were run by barefoot mullahs who scribbled orders on scraps of paper. The new Taliban structure has councils for each area of governance, appoints officials in controlled areas and confers swift justice for crimes and disputes. One Afghan journalist said he recently visited the capital of Logar province, less than an hour's drive south of Kabul, where the Taliban now wields enormous power. He said a man had walked into a Logar radio station and politely introduced himself to the astonished manager as the new provincial spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. According to Mojda and others, the Taliban is still led by Mohammad Omar, a village cleric who headed the 1996-2001 administration and has been a fugitive since its overthrow. Some former leaders hold senior posts in the new movement, although many have been killed. The rank-and-file fighters are a mix of old members and new recruits. Their statements focus on ridding Afghanistan of foreign occupiers and incompetent leaders. Although they use Islam to motivate followers, they regularly violate what people here consider to be basic Islamic tenets against such things as the murder of women and trafficking in opium. Their predecessors used harsh punishments to instill law and order but were often pious Muslims. This year, the insurgents have killed teachers, mayors, policemen, truck drivers, doctors, female aid workers and Muslim clerics. "These people claim to be Muslims, but they are nothing more than terrorists," said Abdul Razzak Qureshi, police chief of Paghman, a district in the mountains west of Kabul. Last week he showed a visiting journalist a trove of land mines and explosive devices that his officers had found planted beside roads and in culverts in the past several months. One such device was detonated last week under a vehicle carrying Abdullah Wardak, the governor of Logar province, near his home in Paghman. He died instantly, along with two bodyguards and a driver. In separate interviews, residents of Paghman, a pretty area in the hills with wildflowers, birches and breezy picnic spots, said they had unhappy memories of Taliban rule and hoped it would not return. So far, the insurgents have not emerged in daylight there, but Razzak, the police chief, said he was unsure how long his force of 147 officers could continue to protect a sprawling district of 186 villages that borders Taliban-controlled Wardak. "The Taliban used to have nothing, but now they have more modern weapons than we do," he said. "Our people feel safe for now, but just over the border they operate freely and have their own checkpoints. If they decide to come here one day, there is nothing I can do to stop them."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dialogue with arms:ANP leaders under attack

Dialogue with arms:ANP leaders under attack
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
By Delawar Jan - News On Sunday
The Awami National Party, which staunchly advocated a negotiated settlement to the growing militancy in the scenic Swat valley before and after the Feb 18 elections, is now under attack from the irreconcilable militants loyal to Maulana Fazlullah.
The nationalist party, that secured sweeping victory in Swat district due to its slogan of peace, declared the Taliban militants their own 'brothers' and offered an olive branch to them soon after coming into power in the NWFP.
Subsequently, a 16-point peace agreement despite immense pressure from the US was signed on May 21 2008, at a time when the insurgents were on a death and destruction spree in the valley by carrying out deadly suicide attacks and bomb blasts on security forces and even in public places. However, the peace deal could not remain intact, as less than one month into the peace deal the militants continued their attacks on the girls' schools.

The situation grew worse when the security forces and militants clashed in Sambat Cham area of the militant-teemed Matta tehsil, resulting in the death of two Taliban commanders, Shahzad and Khan Agha and a security forces person. With this, the Taliban started a series of militant activities, but both sides kept expressing their 'resolve' to keep the accord 'intact.' However, the militants, angry at the alleged failure of the government to release their members, abducted two cops and threatened to pick up more to bargain the release of Taliban prisoners.

After Maulana Fazlullah's press conference on July 27, in which he claimed responsibility for attacks on the girls' schools and threatened of suicide attacks if the government took action, the militants ambushed three Inter-Services Intelligence officials the next day. Moreover, they attacked the security forces check-post in Deolai area of Kabal and picked up 33 cops and Frontier Corps personnel. After these aggressive attacks, the security forces with a nod from the provincial government re-launched a full-scale military operation against the rebels on July 30.

However, the militants held the ANP and members of the NWFP assembly responsible for the operation and turned their guns towards them. In early August, they threatened to take action against all ministers and members National and provincial assemblies, but their threat proved more lethal than it seemed as the unrepentant militants didn't even spare the families of the MPs and ANP workers. They attacked the house of former federal minister and Awami National Party's senior leader, Afzal Khan Lala, with rockets in Drushkhela area on August 12 but he and his family members remained unharmed. They again surrounded his house on Wednesday night but his guards made them flee by opening fire on them.

The militants then killed a local leader, Musa Khan, who was on his way back home after Isha prayers. They ambushed another leader and former union council nazim, Muhammad Ameen, the same night when he was returning from Mingora after taking the injured body of Musa Khan to the hospital.

The militants, who carried out another suicide attack towards the end of August, stormed the family residence of Awami National Party member NWFP Assembly, Waqar Ahmad Khan, in Shahdherai and killed his brother Iqbal Ahmad Khan along with his two sons and seven guards. The MPA was not at home at the time of attack when around 150 heavily armed Taliban militants first gunned down all the seven guards and then entered the house forcing the family members to queue up. They separated women from the other inmates and fired a volley of bullets at the male members, before blowing up the house. The security situation was so precarious that the MPA could not attend the funeral rites of his loved ones and received condolences at the fortified MPA hostel in Peshawar.

The series of target-killings did not stop; the combatants killed another local leader of the party, Gul Bacha, the next day. All the elected representatives from the volatile district have shifted their immediate families to Peshawar and have stopped going to the valley. This was once the case with PML-Q's leaders and workers. The militants killed the member of Swat's royal family and the party's candidate for PF-81, Miangul Asfandyar Amirzeb, in a bomb blast along with a local nazim. Another leader of the party, Shujaat Ali Khan, was also attacked along with his family members, injuring several people. They also burnt down the house of Jamal Nasir, his son and the incumbent district nazim of Swat.

In a meeting of all MPAs from the valley, the military was asked to withdraw if they could not effectively crush the militants. The MPAs were of the opinion that the security forces have failed to protect people from the Taliban; instead they have increased the danger to people's lives.

The militancy-weary people of Swat are under the impression that the forces do not come to the help of those being attacked by the Taliban and are not serious in their elimination. It is, however, encouraging that the NWFP government led by ANP, whose central and provincial leaders have received threats, has adopted a principled stand of crushing the militants if they don't lay down their arms.