“Yet another bomb blast benumbs Quetta,” reads one headline on October 26, when the news of the attack on the police academy on the night of the 24th broke in the press. It should not be only Quetta that is benumbed, it should be the entire nation including the heads of government and army. How many more of Pakistan’s youth are going to be eliminated through the State’s confused and confusing policies, and the perceived needs and dangerous support tactics by both military and civil leaderships which are definitely not on the “same page” — not that they ever have been since the inception of this country?
Why is Quetta (and Balochistan as a whole) made to suffer as much as it has done (and that is not to say that other areas of the country are not in the same hole)? Since 2010 there have been 17 attacks in Quetta — suicide bombers, other bombers, murdering shooters — in which 496 people of all ages and sects have been killed. Are these numbers not shaming to all those who have, since the past six years, been attempting to run this country? No, because after each massacre, after “condemning” and “condoling” they are put out of mind. There are always other more important matters to take up. As has been said again and again, nothing can shame the shameless.
This newspaper in its editorial on that shameful happening asks at its ending: “Will the Quetta outrage be a turning point? Definitely. Maybe” Well, one can surely safely say that “definitely” is out; “maybe” is a far cry. Operation Zarb-e-Azb is lauded far and wide, nationally and internationally, but its successes in its area of operations fall by the wayside when contemplating, amongst many others, the tragedies of firstly the Peshawar school and now the Quetta academy when children and youths are felled in bloodbaths. The security priorities of the various leaderships are glaringly wrong.
The country too often falls into a state of suspension, as it now is, with our politicians, analysts, ‘experts’, and commentators obsessed with what might or might not take place in four days time in the capital city. “Remember, remember, the fifth of September, gunpowder treason and plots… ” goes an old British rhyme. Will there be something to remember on November 2, or will it be a last minute flop? Saviour Imran Khan insists so far that despite anything and all things he will carry out his threat. We can only wait to see.
It should be impossible for any right thinking person to disagree with his demand for accountability (even the IMF chief has recommended that there be accountability if progress is to be made). All that third time prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif (a decent man, so many say, and as many say he may be but he is no great shakes when it comes to governance) has to do is to level with us, tell us the source of his ‘heavy’ wealth (we know all about the ‘heavy mundayte’). He is as entitled as anyone else to make money, but then there are the ways and means employed. How were the Mayfair properties paid for? Where did the Panama money come from that has been put in the names of his progeny? And all the magnificent rest of his family’s assets, how were they acquired? Why does he avoid the issue? Why cannot he level with the nation as to what is the source of his monetary success?
November should also be memorable for the change in our army chief. It seems fairly clear that local hero, General Raheel Sharif, will not be corralled into an extension of his term — at least one must hope so. And for the sake of the country and the army it should be he who dictates to our non-dictation taking prime minister which of his generals will be his successor.
November will also play its part in determining the future course of this Islamic Republic’s relationship with the mighty USA.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2016.