Misguided threats

In the race for catchy headlines, breaking news, we have forgotten what actually threatens the state.

Aasim Zafar Khan December 12, 2011

The real threat Pakistan faces is not from the memo or the secrecy behind the president’s visit to Dubai.

Memogate and ‘cardio-gate’ have both been given such extensive coverage by the electronic and print media that it seems that as though the future of our beloved country depends on finding out the truth behind the memo allegedly coined by Mansoor Ijaz/Husain Haqqani and whether President Zardari’s scooting to Dubai is indeed a matter of the heart or something more sinister.

Ever since the two issues came to light, pages upon pages of hard news, editorials and opinion pieces have been inked out, covering any and all possible conspiracy theories, angles and outcomes. From talk of soft coups, to the dreaded Article 6 and, of course, contempt of court, no stone has been left unturned.

This is Pakistan these days and everything else is secondary.

Unimportant is the fact that on December 9, a man named Mangal Bagh, a leader of the banned Lashkar-e-Islam and once a member of the Awami National Party, held an open court, not 40 minutes from Peshawar. Upon finding a murderer guilty, he meted out speedy justice to the accused, which translated into gunshots to the head, in stark violation of the state’s writ and its laws. Why can’t the provincial/federal government rein in these militants and why can’t the state enforce the law of the land across its borders?

There is also the unilateral strike by Nato gunships at a Pakistani checkpost in the Mohmand Agency, which left at least two dozen soldiers dead. Also, the inability to scramble some form of response during the Mohmand incident shows a certain lack of ‘rapid response capability’, which apparently we had. Then there’s the dark side of Abbottabad, where the world’s most-wanted man lay hiding for many years. Was there complicity in where he lay hidden, or complicity in the attack that took his life? The answers to these questions will have a greater impact on the future of this nation than a few BlackBerry messages between Ijaz and Haqqani.

It’s also secondary that Pakistan International Airlines, the state-owned airline, is facing an acute crisis, with several of its jets grounded due to a lack of spare parts. There’s also Pakistan Railways, which has nearly ground to a halt. Then we have Balochistan, which happens to be in the grip of a full-blown insurgency and is also the backyard of gross human rights violations.

In the race for catchy headlines, breaking news and delusional analyses, it seems we’ve forgotten what actually threatens the state and what doesn’t.

The future of Pakistan depends on the writ of the state being enforced throughout the land. It is contingent on the armed forces and the intelligence being on one page with the democratic government and being able to defend the country’s borders against foreign invaders. It is subject to the preservation of human and religious rights for all its citizens and conditional to the state of the economy.

These are the real threats we as Pakistanis face, don’t let any television channel, newspaper or analyst tell you otherwise.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2011.


Zee Salahuddin | 9 years ago | Reply

I agree, but as you said yourself, the threat isn't just foreign, it is as domestic as the incident that happened 40 kilometers from Peshawar. Just today there is this story on BBC about a Madrassa where 50 students were being held against against their will and trained for "Jihad" by Taliban elements. Southern Punjab is overrun by the fundamentalist sect. But we are most concerned with "Zardarigate".

Then again, given the insane rate of inflation and the seemingly unending list of corruption scandals, one of the lowest literacy rates in the world and natural disasters, maybe this is a welcome distraction.

Fahd | 9 years ago | Reply

Well, I slightly disagree. It is often argued that our politicians (or media folks) forget the REAL issues and focus on things which are not directly relevant to the public or the overall stability and well being of the country.

Pakistan's problem is that everything is going in the wrong direction. Drone attacks, Nato attacks, Raymond Davis, Suicide attacks, sectarian voilence, internal threats, situation in Baluchistan and the list would keep on getting bigger and bigger. However, the only thing that is required to deal with this effectively is a clear intent and sincerity. Which unfortunately, our leadership lacks.

Unemployment, law and order, loadshedding -- all these are connected with the memogate and perhaps the Presidents heart conditions.

Now if the media focuses all its attention towards the President is because Pakistan has been run by individuals and never by institutions and collective wisdom. The parliment passed its joint resolution against drones - that should've been enough to give a credible message to the Americans. The APC was convened and all the politicians and the armed forces stood on the same page. Nothing changed, who do we look up to?

We have only one way forward. Building strong and independent institutions which are free from any external or internal pressures and also from the colonial mindset that this nation has been clenched in.

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