The Indian media betrayed once again its lack of proper understanding of the Taliban surge in Pakistan by playing down a very important New York Times’ report. I reproduce the excerpts with additional facts culled from authoritative accounts to place in perspective the gravity of the terrorist challenge:
“The Taliban have advanced deeper into Pakistan by engineering a class revolt that exploits profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants (locally known as Haris)…
“The strategy cleared a path to power for the Taliban in the Swat valley, where the government allowed Islamic law to be imposed this week, and it carries broad dangers for the rest of Pakistan, particularly the militants’ main goal, the populous heartland of Punjab province.”
Now, read these portions of the NYT report in conjunction with following facts:
1) Land reforms during Ayub Khan’s and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s rule did not change the oppressive ground reality. The feudal system keeps agriculture chained to an iniquitous land-tenure system, absentee landlordism, tenure insecurity of land-croppers and low productivity.
2) Feudal lords and their hatchet men constitute five per cent of agriculture households but control 65 per cent of farmland.
3) Political power concentrated in the hands of around 200 families. Poor and middle class people denied their share in governance and have little stake in the survival of the State as its exists today.
4) In recent years, federal and provincial assemblies dominated by landlords, capitalists, retired civil servants and army personnel. This at a time when millions do bonded labour in agriculture and industry.
5) Feudal lords and capitalists use their dominance of legislative bodies to stay out of the tax net. Records leaked in the early 1990s showed that majority of politicians either filed zero tax statements or made paltry contributions— against huge declared and undeclared assets— in the garb of agricultural income that’s not taxed.
Over to the readers of this blog