Interior Minister Rehman Malik has flatly refused to oblige his detractors who are demanding his resignation after the assassination of Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti. “Why should I resign?” the minister said. “Did chief minister Punjab resign when the terrorist attacks in Punjab took place?” In his speech in the National Assembly, Mr Malik revealed that he was now number one on the terrorists hit list. “You may not see me here again” he said. It could be a ploy to ward off the growing resignation chorus and to prove that he was doing a good job of combating the terrorists, but such a statement from the all-powerful interior minister could not be very reassuring to the people who expect that the interior ministry and law enforcement agencies are there to protect them. The minister went on to announce that Sherry Rehman was number two and Fauzia Wahab number three on the list. The minister might as well have announced the Top Ten on the Hit List Charts for the benefit of the hit men!
Rehman Malik’s opponents still have some hope as he has promised that he will resign if a security lapse is proven. All they have to do is to find answers to some nagging questions: Why was the minorities minister, who was known to be on the hit list, left all by himself to face his assassins? Where were his 15-odd security guards? Were they watching the World Cup? Why was he not given a bullet-proof vehicle, despite repeated requests? Why was he not allotted a house in the minister’s enclave? Who was privy to his schedule for the day? How did the killers escape being spotted before or after theassassination in broad daylight in an area full of road blocks, and an intelligence agency office across the road? Another mystery to be resolved is that why Shahbaz Bhatti who had expressed concerns about his security on so many occasions, chose to visit his mother’s house all alone, unprotected and vulnerable? Was he bent upon on getting himself killed?
After all, he was from Khushpur, the village which became known the world over because of another son of the unhappy village, Bishop John Joseph, who committed suicide in 1998 to protest against the persecution of minorities due to the misuse of the blasphemy law? Shouldn’t the interior minister arrange for briefings for leading politicians and human rights campaigners on how to avoid becoming the target of terrorist attacks? They could be advised to avoid visiting their mothers without bullet-proof vehicles. If not living in protected enclaves, they should build bunkers around their homes. They should also think a hundred times before they speak on a controversial issue, in fact they should keep their mouths shut at all times for security reasons.
If Rehman Malik is not resigning and Shahbaz Sharif is not obliging either, who should be the sacrificial goat? The inspector-general of police of Islamabad! But he has already taken action and arrested several (read usual) suspects. How about the minister for religious affairs for failure to mobilise the religious leaders for the protection of the minorities? But the incumbent is new and his predecessor himself survived an assassination attempt sometime ago (though he may not survive the Hajj scandal). Mr ever-so-accomodating Raza Rabbani did offer to resign, but that would have been unfair as he has just joined the cabinet. At the cabinet meeting which Shahbaz Bhatti was going to attend before being brutally murdered, a visibly upset prime minister offered to resign himself, as no one was willing to accept responsibility. Perhaps we, the people of Pakistan, should collectively resign to the terrible fate which awaits us all!
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ