Sufi Muhammad has been released on the orders of the Peshawar High Court (PHC). The development is yet another reminder of the lack of commitment on the part of the government to eradicate extremism. Sufi Muhammad’s career in militancy spans three decades. On returning from his Afghan adventures in early 1990s, Muhammad had formed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM), which was later banned. The TNSM was responsible for multiple episodes of unrest and even armed rebellion against successive governments.
He is the father-in-law of Mullah Fazlullah, who ruined the peace of Swat valley and unleashed a violent reign in the area until a military operation was finally launched to re-take control of the region.
Sufi Muhammad was responsible for all the terrorist acts of Taliban. He repeatedly rejected the country’s Constitution and denied the sovereignty of the Parliament, and yet he could not be convicted of any of his multiple criminal acts in all these years. This inaction certainly has to do with the ineffectiveness of Pakistan’s criminal justice system and the government’s non-seriousness in getting terrorists convicted, but state institutions’ confusion in dealing with the matter is also problematic.
When the PPP government had signed a peace deal with TNSM in 2009, Sufi Muhammad was being seen by many in the power corridors as a saviour who would help the state restore peace in the Swat valley. But that peace deal proved counterproductive and violence in the valley instead saw an increase. Sufi Muhammad could not be tried in all the cases registered against him because the state did not make up its mind as to how he should be dealt with. The fact of the matter is that Sufi Muhammad condoned, if not committed, all the horrific atrocities in Swat that were at their peak before the military operation. Therefore, he also has blood on his hands and the state’s inability to convict him is our collective failure.
Furthermore, those justifying his release on the basis of his old-age must not remain tight-lipped over the manner in which 73-year-old philosophy professor Hassan Zafar Arif’s body was found in the back seat of his car from Ibrahim Hyderi area of Karachi.
The likes of Sufi Muhammad, Ehsanullah Ehsan and Maulvi Abdul Aziz remain untouchable while progressive activists continue to be attacked, killed or abducted. We seem to have all the mercy in the world for terror suspects but zero tolerance for progressive activists who dare to disagree with state’s policies. *