‘Decrying extremism’

The president of Pakistan has just completed his two days visit to Chitral. The people are indeed grateful to him for taking interest in providing an all weather road to Chitral in the form of the under construction Lowari tunnel.

During his public address here, the president spoke very well on issues, foremost being the curse of extremism. The president said, the verses from the Holy Quran which stress upon moderation be not recited only, but be put into practice also. His vision about moderation and rejecting extremism in all its forms and manifestations cannot but be appreciated. However the facts on ground witnessed during his recent visit to Chitral present a picture, quite contrary to his sermon.

No body can deny the fact that the President needs high security protection in these times, but then there is a limit to everything.. Days before the presidential visit, over, an estimated two thousand paramilitary troops and police from different parts of the NWFP, as far as Tochi and South Waziristan were ushered into Chitral, manning and checking every passer by at every nook and corner.

For the two days that the president stayed in Chitral, a virtual curfew was imposed in the town on the local population whom the president is never tired of calling ‘peace loving’. Shutters were forced down in the markets for two full days, causing huge economic losses to an already hard pressed people. The economic losses incurred by Chitral due to this kind of security arrangement are estimated to be far more than the President’s financial grant to Chitral. Even the sick were not allowed to reach hospitals as the roads were dead blocked and people ordered to stay indoors, for security reasons of course. The blockade of Lowari pass road and cancellation of PIA flights are too small discomforts to even be counted. In fact the whole town presented the picture of a grave yard with semblance to a George Bush visit to Iraq .

For the first time, instead of being awed by an official show of power, the Chitralis felt utterly disgusted. It was indeed the most expensive and most intemperate security arrangement witnessed in Chitral for any dignitary so far, all at the cost of the ‘peaceful’ Chitrali population. Many in Chitral question “Is this not a form and manifestation of extremism?”. Well, it certainly is not moderation. It also reminds us of the time old adage “Do as I say, not as I do”.

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