There is something horribly wrong with the national psyche of this nation that forms the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, both with its leadership — including those who profess to be the pillars of state and all that is known as the ‘establishment’ — and with the led. Hypocrisy has been taken to new heights and double, if not treble, standards are firmly embedded, settling in deeper as time goes by.
When Nato forces, on November 26, killed 24 Pakistani troops at the Salala checkpost — surely not by intent as they had nothing to gain — the entire government machinery, the mighty armed forces, the very free media and most of the remaining 180 million went emotionally berserk. Not because 24 young soldiers were dead and 24 families in mourning, but because the US, the favourite whipping post was involved in the deaths whilst waging war against the Taliban. The reversals in relations with the US are well-known. The confrontational attitude of the military and civilian establishment, of the tottering government that follows the line drawn and set by the army and the media hype went into top gear. It was not about the soldiers, it was merely the perfect opportunity to attempt to go for the US jugular — just stopping short of an actual declaration of war. (The American inability — or is it policy — to say ‘Sorry’ did not help in any way).
On January 6, we read that the mutilated bodies of 15 members of the Frontier Constabulary, previously kidnapped by the Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP) had been found in North Waziristan, riddled with bullets, in a revenge killing by the TTP. The pillars of state, the government, establishment — military and civil — were silent. Pakistani Muslim had barbarically slain Pakistani Muslim, so what? Can someone explain the difference between the TTP and the other Taliban that the 24 or so soldiers were fighting on the Afghan border in Mohmand?
There was no public outrage, the ghairat brigade of the electronic media and those who move from channel to channel to ‘tawk’ found it unworthy of comment and, as far as we know, the security forces did nothing but send the bodies back to 15 grieving families and maintain their stoic silence. The leading English language newspapers wrote fine pertinent editorials, all of which are firmly backed by this column, as is the January 7 column of Tazeen Javed, titled “More equal than others in death” printed in this publication.
The TTP was by these few roundly condemned, as was the attitude adopted by the military towards its supposed target, conciliatory no matter to what depths it sinks. The military and the government are paralytic when it comes to the TTP — but fully supple when they think they can get an upper hand over the mighty US. When will they realise that the prime danger lies not without but within? Or is it that they do not wish realisation to set in, so obsessed are they by what they deem to be their strategic assets. The assets may loosen murder and mayhem upon all and sundry in the Islamic Republic and the attitude and inactivity seemingly give the TTP the right to do what it will.
On January 10, we read that 10 further bodies of Pakistan’s security personnel were found in the Orakzai agency. The 10 soldiers had been shot and the TTP took full responsibility for the deaths. So 15 plus 10 equals 25 — one more than those killed accidentally (it really cannot be otherwise) by Nato fire. Thus, 25 dead through sheer brutality and 25 families left to mourn, whilst an unfeeling nation did little more than gulp down the latest crises to hit this crisis-ridden republic. No one was jumping up and down in any indignation as all were immersed in the confrontations and tussles unwinding in the Supreme Court and the memo matter in the ongoing battles waged against each other by our self-styled pillars of state.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2012.