The last week has seen considerable anger expressed by members of one ethnic group — Pakhtuns of K-P — towards another, the Punjabis. How many Pakhtuns there are in Punjab is unknown but they are alleged to currently be the victims of ‘racial profiling’ as a result of the operations against terror and extremist groups nationwide and not only in Punjab. The numbers of Pakhtuns detained or otherwise brought within the ‘sweeps’ and ‘combing operations’ by the security and paramilitary organisations is disproportional to their actual presence in the province, say the Pakhtuns. It must also be noted that similar complaints are coming from Afghan communities resident in Punjab. Lawmakers in the K-P assembly have been up in arms calling for the release of Pakhtuns arrested in Punjab as well as elsewhere. Social media is awash with Tweets about the alleged injustices being meted out and the hurt caused ‘to the sentiments of the people of K-P.’ Leaders and luminaries of various opposition parties to the PML-N government joined the fray with accusations flying to the effect that the government was conducting not a war against terrorism but against Pakhtuns generally.
The fact of the matter is that Punjab would be damned if it did and damned if it did not in respect of moving against terrorist and extremist groups in the province. Calls for the release of all those detained be they Afghan or Pakhtun are palpable nonsense if only because some — and probably not all — of those detained do have terrorist and extremist links and yes, they are committed to the overthrow of the state. Were the Punjab government and the various forces of law and order not to move against these known elements they would quickly find themselves getting a drubbing across the media and rightly so. Fighting terrorism is never pretty, tidy or even fair, and omelets do not get made without eggs getting broken.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2017.
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