DR HAIDER MEHDI "... Germany's defeat and Hitler's suicide. Grand dreams can become nightmares. Those with memories of the year 1971 can recall how a steady diet of seductive slogans, denial, and romantic illusions of warfare, among other factors, cost Pakistan half its nation... Germany recovered because of its culture...and its capacity to self-correct. Pakistan, too, shall flourish and bond as a nation provided that there is a realisation... (added: to self-correct ourselves)." -Mowahid Hussain Shah, TheNation Recall the television coverage or print media photographs of a political rally in Mingora last Sunday (April 19) where thousands upon thousands gathered to listen to Maulana Sufi Muhammad and to celebrate the success of the movement that led to the enforcement of Shariah law in the region. This immense gathering of people was not a herd of cattle shoved and pushed there or forced at gunpoint to attend this rally. They were there because they support the introduction of Shariah: this is how "people" and their "power" is demonstrated. In many explicit ways, this event is very much analogous to the lawyers march to reinstate the Chief Justice of Pakistan. In both these instances, the "people" and their "power" prevailed in the face of the state's institutional metaphysical anxiety, abstruse tendencies and susceptibility to give in to people's demands. Irrespective of the merits or demerits of the introduction of Shariah law in Swat, in present day Pakistan, it is a time for reflection and for all squabbling and warring political elements to come together and work tirelessly to bring lasting and permanent peace to the entire NWFP. It is not a time for anymore retributions, bombings, killings, further military engagements or political backlashes or flaring up the ethnic discord in the country. The fact is that the people of Swat have spoken - and their popular will must be respected by all. It is obvious that there is formidable public opposition to many of the internal and external policies of the incumbent government in Islamabad. But on this one, the Swat Peace Accord, the entire nation has to support the central government's political efforts to restore peace in NWFP and the Swat region. Conflict resolution is the art of skilful diplomacy, intense and constructive positive engagement with the opponents, mutual confidence-building measures, the development of a conducive socio-political environment devoid of threats of retribution and counter-threats and a sincere commitment to a fear-free dialogue with publicly declared objectives for problem resolution. In the process of conflict resolution there is an obligation for all parties to relegate the abnegations, contradictions, repudiations and rebuttal of controversial issues to a minimum level. As little needs to be said as possible on the rhetorical negativity and hostility amongst the competing adversaries. In this context, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, has demonstrated remarkable statesmanship in downplaying the TNSM chief's remarks (Pakistan's Parliament and courts were opposed to Islamic law) "as an expression of individual opinion." Similarly, in the interest of an on-going dialogue for peace, Sufi Muhammad's said remarks must be considered as what they are: excessive politically motivated rhetoric. The MQM legislators' "noise" in the Parliament helps in no way to go forward towards conflict resolution - they should learn from the prime minister's example. There is a basic need to defuse the political-religious-constitutional controversy here. Two fundamentals in the context of Pakistan's contemporary internal disarray and conflict need to be explained here: First, the American so-called War On Terror was never meant to be a war against terrorism per se. "If it were, it would have involved the Basque separatists in Spain, the Hindu/Marxist Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the Maoist rebels in eastern India, Israeli ultranationalists, the Kurdish PKK, the remnants of the Irish Republican Army and the Sikh separatist movements, and so on," wrote Raza Aslan, the author of How To Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalisation, in a recent article. Hence, strategically and conclusively, the War On Terror has been an American-orchestrated war of ideological capitalism and a political expansionist doctrine - a clash of civilisations - explicitly carried out with the specific purpose to subjugate Islamic nations to Anglo-American political, economic, socio-cultural domination. Pakistan and Afghanistan are of special importance and an essential link in this process to "colonise" the Central Asian Islamic States. Second, there is a vital need to fully understand the psychological devastation that the US invasion of Afghanistan and the Pakistani military operations in the NWFP have caused to the people in the FATA territories. The thing is that the American War On Terror and its ceaseless indiscriminate bombings, killings and inhumane treatment of the natives have touched on the religious, emotional, political and geographic core in the region. You do not kill a family's son, father, child or mother and then tell them that is a good thing for the world and your country. It triggers an action-reaction syndrome, frustration/anger/counter-violence of human response and resistance. The Taliban rise (as counter violence) and the Swat Peace Movement (as political resistance) are the direct result of Anglo-American occupation of Afghanistan and General Pervez Musharraf's sickening war against his own people. There is much more to what Americans continue to do now in pursuit of their global objective to gain complete control of the region and further expand its military and political grip over Pakistan - perhaps, even by attempting to disintegrate the country on the Yugoslavian model. The US is implementing the strategic model of "Adaptation" that mathematicians make: the technique is used to observe how the opponent will respond to an escalating series of political and military "moves." That is where the increasing "drone" attacks in Pakistan's territories and the talk of broadening their scope comes in. If the opponents (Taliban) respond with increased violence (in Pakistan and against US-NATO forces) then the US gets its justification and a pretext to further expand its war in Pakistan. If the Taliban respond with political resistance (as in the Swat Peace Accord) then the Americans denounce it and find political dissidents and fund them (in such a movement) to disrupt the possibilities of a peaceful solution of the crisis. In any event, the American determination to exert full military and political control over Pakistan and Afghanistan will continue unabated. A second strategic model is "Assembling Facts"(in actuality, the manipulation of facts). It is here that fabricated information, misinformation campaigns, media blitzes (having control over all major global media and TV networks) large scale covert activities and dissidents funding is promoted. The young-girl's alleged public flogging in Swat is a vivid example in this regard. The question is: Where do certain groups amongst the Taliban get sophisticated weapons? Why and how is it that most dissidents always ask for American help? Where does the funding come from? Why are the CIA operatives implanted everywhere? Etc, etc. Pakistan's only hope to survive through this dreadful and crucial period in its history is to mobilise massive "Public Power" in its defence against foreign intervention in its internal and external affairs. The Swat Peace Accord is a good start in the right direction for mobilisation of public opinion for peace. This accord indicates the political system's potency for flexibility, accommodation, tolerance and accepting the diversity of political perspectives. Hopefully, in due course of time, the rigidity and uncompromising political mindset of the architects of the Swat People's Peace Movement will melt down in its rhetorical excesses and relegate its political objectives to the demands of ground realities to become a part of the mainstream political landscape of Pakistan. But all political parties will have to work together in absolute cohesion for such a visionary transformation and make it work. Above all, it is the only option Pakistanis have to defeat Anglo-American designs against the nation... It is time that we, as a nation, have to realise that we need to develop a political culture to self-correct ourselves... The bottom line is: the vital decisions about Pakistan's political management in its internal and external affairs must be made in Islamabad and not in the White House in Washington, DC. It is the Pakistani prime minister and the citizens of this country only who can decide what is in the best interest of this nation - rather than the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton Period The writer is a professor, political analyst and conflict-resolution expert E-mail: hl_mehdi@ hotmail.com