Attack on tourists: Yes, you condemn, but what's next, dear leaders?
We were just coming to terms with the blast that wrecked a student bus in Quetta and the bomb that destroyed the Ziarat Residency. Then, news broke that up in the northern most part of the country, 10 foreign mountaineers - belonging to Ukraine, China, Russia and the United States - have been shot dead in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
One cannot help sounding downright pessimistic when the subject of Pakistan is broached these days. We have become a country that has no dearth of news that horrifies the world; a country that is capable of producing a shocking news piece a day.
Does anyone remember the last time our beloved country made an appearance on the world news bulletins for the right reasons?
Such occasions are rare even if we crane our necks to look into the far distant past and include the fields of sports and education, science and art that in the past have been our saving graces.
That such dastardly things are a norm in Pakistan - for over a decade now - does not surprise me. What does baffle me is the passive nonchalance with which the authorities have reacted to this new act of terror.
Our politicians seem to have a standard statement etched on their minds, a generic response for whenever something embarrassing and terrifying happens on our territory. The authorities responsible react in an identical way to every tragedy that hits us, using words and phrases similar in their manner as well as their futility.
The reaction runs somewhat like this:
We condemn this act of terrorism.
We should bring to light the hidden hand behind this act.
This is a conspiracy to shame Pakistan and damage its reputation in the world community.
As an example, look at the statement issued by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on its official twitter account @PTIofficial:
We strongly condemn this cowardly act by terrorists,killing tourists today. Demanding Fed govt to immediately call joint meeting & act.— PTI (@PTIofficial) June 23, 2013
Other political leaders, including the prime minister and the interior minister, have said almost as much in as many words while speaking to various news outlets.
Condemnation of terrorist acts by state authorities is good, but grossly insufficient if we are interested in bringing an end to these catastrophes. Such statements have taken us nowhere in the past, nor will they help this time. We need tangible action!
On the other hand, the relentless Taliban, the people behind this particular act as well, are having a field day. They are cocooned in every nook and corner of the country. They come at will and in broad daylight. They strike as many times as they want and target whoever they wish to.
One day they strike in Karachi in the south, the next in Quetta in the southwest and then in the north. They have massively destructive weapons in their possession and every kind of stupefying strategies up their sleeves.
According to a national daily, the Taliban's spokesperson has said, 'this will tell the international community about our feelings and sentiments against the killing of our fighters.'
It is frightening to see how nonchalantly they admit responsibility for terrorism inflicted while they are so close to entering into the negotiations room with the government.
Time and again, we are forced to ask why it has proved impossible for the authorities concerned to reach and apprehend an entity that has a distinct name, a clearly identifiable face, and an address within the precincts where Pakistan has a claim to running its writ?
Pakistan no doubt is a 'hard country' but equally without doubt is the fact that Pakistan boasts an irresistible geography and a hospitable, talented populace. The fateful expedition by the mountaineers from Ukraine, China, Russia and United States, despite all troubles faced by Pakistan, was a testimony to our aptitude for tourism.
We demand prompt action on the part of government that brings those responsible to justice and restores the confidence of the people. We expect actions by authorities concerned that will prevent the complete demise of prospects for tourism in Pakistan.
If not, then we should be prepared to be eternally clubbed with countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen - those markings on the map which the larger part of the world has no interest in.
The choice was always ours - do we want to be a country that others delight in visiting or would we rather be an outcast that is painted red on the world atlas?
Dear leaders, please do something more effective than just 'condemn' the brutal murder of these innocent tourists. We need you to take a step further and begin to fix this country that people may well be too scared to visit!
Follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqmasudmalik