Pakistan & “Jihadist warriors”

Lashkar e jhangvi continue to terrify Pakistani civilians and are still called “Jihadist” by the so called Mullahs  . It is very important right now to call these Jihadist gunmen by their real name – terrorists. 

Pakistani children who were slightly injured in a bomb blast are brought to a hospital in Karachi Pakistan Sunday March 3 2013. Pakistani officials say a bomb blast has killed dozens of people in a neighborhood dominated by Shiite Muslims in the southern caption

The country had not quite digested the Quetta sectarian carnage incidents in January and February when we had once again to be subjected to indiscriminate terrorism against innocent citizens in Karachi on Sunday. Although the targeted area, Abbas Town, is predominantly Shia, it also has Sunnis. The result is that even if the terrorists intended only to target Shias, they ended up killing and maiming many from both denominations. The spirit of solidarity displayed by citizens in helping each other after the blasts, while the security and rescue services were nowhere in sight, gladdens the hearts of all who see the sectarian terrorists as the worst of a bad lot. Tragically, as though the loss of life, limb and property were not enough on Sunday, the following day the funeral processions of some of the dead were fired upon and more people killed, as a result of which complete mayhem and chaos broke out, with again the law enforcement agencies conspicuous by their absence. While some diehard critics were wont to blame the deployment of the security forces at the engagement ceremony of a PPP leader on Sunday, it appears more likely that the security agencies took a deliberate decision to stay out of the line of fire until things settled down. Whether this can be described as strategy, dereliction of duty, or just plain cowardice is open to conjecture. Several areas of Karachi soon came under the grip of spreading violence, with no clear idea who was attacking who and why. If this not a state of anarchy, what is?

While all friendly countries have condemned the latest incident of sectarian terrorism, the Supreme Court has once again felt constrained to take suo motu notice of the incident and will be hearing the matter at its Karachi Registry today. Ominously, just as in the case of the former Balochistan government, there is more than a hint in the Supreme Court’s formulation that it may examine whether the Sindh government has lost its constitutional validity for being unable to protect the lives and properties of citizens. A heated debate in the Senate has blamed both the government and the intelligence agencies for a manifest failure. Irrepressible Interior Minister Rehman Malik has once again tried to twist the knife in the PML-N’s back by calling the perpetrators ‘Punjabi Taliban’, implying the Punjab government’s ‘soft’ attitude to groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which claimed the Quetta bombings, is to blame. He also wondered aloud whether these activities so close to the elections were meant to sabotage the polls. In the same breath, he also made the laughable claim that the backbone of the terrorists has been broken, citing the arrest of 30 LeJ activists as proof! With due respect Mr Minister, the terrorists are neither Punjabi nor any other nationality, as we have learnt over the last four decades. They are simply terrorists. Admittedly the Punjab government’s equivocation on the LeJ and similar groups has led to a lot of unease, but no one can be absolved of the blame for the situation having reached this pass. The ‘benign neglect’ of sectarian terrorist groups by all governments, federal and provincial, while ostensibly focusing on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan-type activist, is now coming home to roost with a vengeance.

Karachi is once again emerging as a sectarian flashpoint after Quetta. Last year, sectarian, terror, bhatta (extortion) and other criminal targeting killed 2,200 people in Karachi. Of these, 400 were Shia. In the first two months of the current year, 450 have already died. This seems to suggest an incremental escalation of terror, sectarian and other. We now have the unenviable situation of an incumbent elected government in its last days (i.e. virtually a lame duck), while the caretaker government to replace it is still not decided, making it difficult to hazard a guess what, if anything, it might intend to do about the spreading terror threat, which can not only cause the elections to be sabotaged, even if they are held to deny the terrorists that satisfaction, they could easily turn out to be very bloody. It is time for all the stakeholders to put their heads together on an emergency basis to put in place a centralized, coordinated anti-terror mechanism before the rivers of blood that have started to flow sweep everything good and positive along with them. 

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Failure of agencies in Karachi

The twin blast at residential building in Abbass Town killed more than 46 people and also wounded around 140 people. Many children were also killed in the tragic incident. According to media reports police and law enforcement agencies reached the incident after one hour and this delay was because hundreds of police was present at engagement ceremony of PPP leader Sharmila Farooqi at Mohatta Palace.

The day we think that we have had enough of killing, another bomb blast kills more people. There is no guarantee of peace or harmony, not now when the country is witnessing genocide of Shias across its length and breadth. Since January, this blast in Karachi was the third attack on Shias. The pattern has been identical, bombing a market or a residential area to ensure indiscriminate bloodshed. The Alamdar Road, Kinari Road and now the Abbas Town bomb blast killed women, children and men of every age. So far 65 people have been reported killed and many more injured. There were two remote detonated blasts, using improvised explosive devices. The entire neighborhood of Abbas Town was reduced to rubble. Some buildings caught fire because of short circuiting. The police and Rangers arrived late, compelling the residents to shift the injured and the dead to the hospitals themselves. Almost immediately, as the terrorists were done with their dirty work, the government announced compensation to the tune of Rs 1.5 million for each bereaved family and Rs 1 million for the injured. Though money could not make up for the loss of life and limb, especially in the absence of any rehabilitation programme for the seriously injured, it could at least reduce the misery of the surviving disabled to some extent. An inquiry report has been hurriedly put together by the law enforcement agencies and the day ended with a promise to bring the culprits to justice. An identical pattern of addressing terrorists’ attacks, without leaving any hope for the survivors or the rest of us to at least believe that tomorrow will be a better day. How long are we going to continue with this cold, indifferent attitude? When would it dawn on us that our security is under threat and that we need a comprehensive, all-encompassing and collective effort to remove the threat? When would we stop evading the reality that we are under siege from the terrorists? The United Nation’s anti-genocide envoy has listed Pakistan among the countries with a ‘dangerous escalation in ethnic and religious tension’. 

To the utmost surprise, none of the terrorist organizations has accepted the responsibility of the attack so far. Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik, however, sees the Punjabi Taliban behind the attack in Abbas Town. The vocal minister minced no words in saying that the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) had its headquarters in Punjab and the provincial rulers are in an electoral alliance with the banned organization—a charge that PML-N denies. Rehman Malik claims terrorism in the country can be eliminated only if action was taken against terrorists in Punjab. Regardless he is right or wrong; the people of Pakistan know nothing but deserve security to their lives and property should that come from the PPP or PML-N. The useless rhetoric of Rehman Malik doesn’t sooth the injured souls of the people. 

On the other hand, Afghan President Hamid Karzai says Afghanistan wants the Pakistani government to realize that both our nations are burning in the same fire and adds that the Pakistani government has an essential and important role in putting out this fire but practical steps are not being taken to fight terrorism. Is not it a slap on the face of the Interior Ministry? The man responsible for security of the country—the interior minister—does not agree or deliberately ignoring the notion that Pakistan is falling into serious chaos, he is recklessly pursuing a rat-race of point-scoring over the bodies by shifting the responsibility to PML-N that strengthens suspicion that the government is either unable or unwilling to go after the militants. After years of unabated terrorism, the mourners are losing patience over the repeated killings they mean action no matter whether it comes from the PML-N or the PPP. Pakistan has to do something more serious to rein in the extremist militants to ensure much-needed long-term peace in the country and in Karachi particularly. Bomb blasts and incidents of firing on mourners and funerals heading for burial is an eye-opener for the rulers who are still not willing to call in army, by invoking the Article 245 of the Constitution, to stem the tide of ruthless killings. Rehman Malik must not forget— be it a failure of police, Rangers or the intelligence agencies—the federal government is solely responsible for the security of the people across Pakistan and if the government is banking on the worsening law and order situation to prolong its rule after March 16. This is not going to work. It is grossly mistaken. Today, the innocent people are dying and buried under the rain of bullets. Even if the rulers survive the onslaught of terrorists, tomorrow, they would not be able to escape wrath of the people.  

After all, the history repeats itself. Police and Rangers failing to rescue Abbas Town victims for hours on the flimsy excuse of extending security to the special guests, including the premier, the CM and other government functionaries and the political leadership, gathered there in the neighborhood of the blast site to attend the engagement of Sharmila Farooqi deserves worst condemnation, and demands immediate removal of all those who are responsible for the negligence—be he is DG Rangers, IG police or political heads of the Sindh Government. After each terrorist strike, Rehman Malik, who starts reading news like news caster, also needs to be careful. He is the worst Interior Minister that this country has in the living memory. His fouled-mouth revelations rub salt on the wounds of bereaved families and the victims alike. He must stop his ‘prophecies’ based on blame-game especially if he cannot offer any solution. Come March 16, the life will not remain the same. The nation has put up a brave face to all tragedies it had faced during last five years. It should expect any good from the rulers. The people have to bear with the apathy of the state machinery for another 12 days, and those dreaming about seeking the extension to their misrule are living in fools’ paradise.

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