Monday, May 22, 2006

Shooting the messenger

Fourteen months into the job, the NWFP Governor, Khalilur Rehman, has been unceremoniously dumped by Musharraf. According to this report in Dawn, Musharraf was unhappy with Rehman's handling of the situation in Waziristan.

At his swearing-in ceremony the Governor told reporters, "I would follow merit and ensure justice and fairplay. Accelerating the pace of development in Fata would be my foremost priority." Against a backdrop of 80,000 troops waging an all-out war in Waziristan, it was always unlikely that the political option would succeed.

Perhaps instead of changing his Governors, Musharraf needs to re-think his policy in the tribal areas. Seven years of political machinations at the top haven't blunted his soldier's instinct for using force to crush opposition. FATA's tribal leaders may be anathema to democrats, but in times of crisis a silken touch is needed. Unless the centre moderates its language of force, Governor No. 26 may soon find himself making way for No. 27.

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