For a long time Pakistanis have had their eyes wide shut to the plight of the brave people inhabiting Swat, Dir, Chitral and other areas of Malakand Division and ignored the ominous signs that Taliban militants were steadily increasing their power. Talibans do not have any hidden agenda - their professed aim is to impose their peculiar kind of social values and laws on people to rule over them by force. The fault lies with successive governments for failing to comprehend the aims of these militants who have grown so strong that they are prepared to wage war to establish state within a state. When operations were begun against militant forces in northern areas, this gave an opportunity to forces in Malakand to begin an insurrection. Pakistan Army was neither trained for guerrilla warfare nor mentally ready to combat with fellow Muslims on Pakistan soil and therefore could not defeat these militants. The will of the state was also weak. At the same time success of local militants led to an influx into Swat of like-minded forces from other parts of Pakistan. Local population has suffered and many have been thrown out of their homes by migrants. Even ANP leaders, who have worked for Pakhtoons zealously over the years admit that these people are 'aliens' and do not follow any of the Pakhtoon traditions. Talibans terrorising the people has made the government so powerless that Swatis and Chitralis, apart from being in shock are disillusioned, justifiably so, as the state has failed to protect them. They are Pakistanis and just as much entitled to the state security as any other citizen, and ask whether state machinery would have been helpless had the militants attacked people of Lahore and Karachi, kicked them out of their abodes and tried to transform their way of life. Government of Pakistan and NWFP has signed an Accord with Maulana Sufi Muhammad. People came out on the streets of Swat in spontaneous jubilation not for accord, rather in hope of end of hostilities. The burning question is whether this is a solution or encouragement to like minded groups to demand more territories under their control. Present events support my perception that a 'prelude to Malakand kind of insurgency is taking place' in many other parts of Pakistan. We must deliberate upon this Accord for the sake of our future generations, before it is too late. The plight of the people of Malakand Division cannot and should not be ignored. If an example can be set for others by overcoming the insurgency in this area, we shall help Pakistan meet such like challenges ahead. This region was the seat of a Buddhist Kingdom and the population over time converted to Islam. In 18th/19th centuries, the Khans constantly fought for territory and influence. A common enemy was then found in the British, and that is when religious groups, which were unknown before, for the first time in the history of the region started rising in power. It all began in 1870's when Chitral's Mehtar, Amanullah Mulk, in return for receiving subsidy from British Government, began to govern Chitral for them. In 1892, his son Afzal, after murdering as many of his brothers as he could, proclaimed himself Mehtar but was killed by his uncle Sher Afzal, who was overthrown by his nephew Nizam. Nizam too was murdered and finally Sher Afzal was brought back and made Mehtar. This forced British to move their forces into Chitral, in order to reappoint their man as Mehtar, which united the local people to rise up in arms. After this war, the British moved their forces permanently into Chitral and it became necessary to open and maintain a road from Peshawar to Chitral. The concept of accords was used by the British to maintain peace along this route under which subsidies were paid to all powerful people in the area. Trade and commerce along the route made money for everyone and ensured no interference. This was also the time (early 1900s) when Churchill was stationed in Malakand as a young Lieutanent in British Army and while writing for Daily Telegraph provided valuable insight into the politics of the area. In his articles he analyses that what the British government did not realise, sitting in Delhi and London, was that economic prosperity was not enough to rule these people and that their liberties needed to be safeguarded at the same time. He writes: "....notwithstanding their love of independence, the majority of tribal of the area were willing to peacefully submit to the British if the balm of material prosperity was abundantly available to them...However no money could stop them from fighting if their liberties were actually curtailed.....native population was content to enjoy new found riches and comforts. For two years (no) shot was fired. Neither a post bag stolen nor a messenger murdered." Churchill deliberates that economic prosperity scared the Mulla of the region, who felt that as people become richer Mulla's 'influence' would be reduced. Like Pakistani governments of today, what British too did not realise then, was that religious groups were slowly turning the population into lava, ready to explode. It is remarkable that the threat of the Talibs was pointed out by Churchill 100 years ago. Although Swat and Dir acceded to Pakistan in 1947, people in power continued to treat them differently from other citizens. Although in 1970 by a Presidential Order these territories were included in NWFP with application of federal and provincial laws, this was reversed in 1973 constitution when these territories were reconstituted into Provincially Administered Tribal Areas. In 1976 a discriminatory system of dispensation of justice was imposed in which normal courts were replaced by Jirgas to try crimes and cases of civil nature. When certain citizens of the area challenged this injustice, a report was sought and prepared by Justice A B Khan who was asked to assess public opinion on this matter. In his report he recommended: "It would be in the interest of the national integrity that uniformed civil and criminal laws are enforced in Dir, Swat, Chitral and Malakand protected areas and the entire division is brought at par with other parts of the country in the field of administration of justice" (1981). Members of National and Provincial Assemblies, High Court and District Bar Associations seconded Justice Bukhsh's recommendations. ANP, Pakhtoonkhawan, Jamaat-i-Islami and PPP also endorsed integration of these areas with Pakistan. Justice triumphed when Supreme Court of Pakistan declared these regulations to be illegal. While the rest of Pakistan remained undecided on the status of these areas, the Talibs and Mullas strategically gained control in the area. Successive Pakistani governments allowed so-called Shia-Sunni strifes in the area to continue, in spite of having realised that killings were more about Talibans gaining influence. They should have then nipped it in the bud. The signs were clear, but were ignored. Supporters of the Accord argue that just like British could not successfully control this area, Pakistan too cannot fight them and peace is the only option There is no denying that a 'peaceful settlement' is the best solution but when a state makes peace with forces within its territories, there are some conditions which cannot be accepted by governments. A state cannot in exchange for peace give up its territory or sovereignty to indigenous groups or rob its citizens of right to security and freedom. Such accords eventually fail. The British could not maintain the Dir-Chitral route through various accords for more than three years. I do not agree that because the British could not control this area 100 years ago, Pakistan army in the 21st century cannot. Achieving peace through this Accord, which appears unconditional, could create a dangerous precedent. First, the Accord is lacking the essential element of free consent because it has been entered into under threat by Talibans. Second, by entering into an Accord with Talibans, the government has given recognition and validity to them as an independent force which can co-govern a territory within Pakistan. Third, the Accord imposes a Taliban style Nizam-e-Shariah. The 1973 constitution clearly specifies that all laws must conform to the injunctions of Quran and Sunnah and Muslim citizens of Pakistan are governed by Islamic laws. Shariat courts are the guardians of Islamic laws who have confirmed that all Pakistan laws comply with Shariah. By imposing Taliban style Nizam-e-Shariah upon the people of Malakand Division without their consent means that they stand deprived of their rights under Pakistani law. To me if a different legal system is to be carved out for Pakistani citizens living in a particular area it has to be with the consent of local people and through constitutional amendment. Now that the Accord is there, we need to concentrate on economic progress and education in the region. One plus point is that army's presence in the area has been secured. Utilising peace times the government needs to concentrate on making the place economically vibrant and concentrate on education. An educated population with stake in Pakistan's economy will counter Talibans influence. Talibans can be integrated into the economic activity and employed in army. At the same time the government writ should be enforced forcefully, irrespective of the Accord, to protect the local populations. The Accord should never mean that state of Pakistan has given up its sovereignty over the territory or people. We can see the extremists trying to spread their influence in other cities of Pakistan. A shrine of a poet has been damaged in Peshawar. CD shops have been burnt in Lahore and a theatre bombed. Cultural activities are being targeted in Karachi. Armed people are now threatening to close down places, even parks, where men and women come together. This is just the beginning. Having gained through use of force, the same people are trying to spread their power in other parts of the country. With time the issue of imposition of Nizam-e-Shariah, the Accord, its consequences and future implementation needs to be brought before the assemblies and must be debated and decided by them. The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan E-mail: ali@mandviwallaandzafar.com