Day of carnage

The weakness we show by failing to protect the most vulnerable, we embolden militants to replicate Bloody Thursday.


Editorial January 11, 2013
Security personnel examine the site of a bomb explosion in Quetta. PHOTO: AFP

In the very last tweet Irfan Khudi Ali sent out before he was killed in a blast in Quetta, he said, “Hazara families of Machh, Khuzdar finally succumbed to the genocidal pressure and are moving out. Sad day for diversity in Balochistan.” Later that day, Irfan was one of nearly 100 people killed in three different blasts in Quetta. More than 20 other people were killed in separate attacks in Swat and Karachi.

On this, one of the deadliest days in Pakistan even by our recent violent standards, we saw the full spectrum of threats that the country faces. In Balochistan, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has declared war on the Shia community, reserving particular ire for the minority-within-a-minority Hazaras. The two blasts targeting Shias in Quetta took over 90 lives. Then, there is the war being fought by the Baloch separatists, which occasionally turns violent and so we had separatist group United Baloch Army claim responsibility for a blast, which killed 11 people in a Quetta market. The Taliban, as shown by the attempted murder of Malala Yousufzai, is still able to operate in Swat despite the strong army presence and so were the likely culprits behind the killings of 21 people at a religious rally in Mingora. Meanwhile, in Karachi, not only is the Taliban making its presence felt but there is also the usual daily cocktail of targeted killings and political bickering turning violent.



You would think, given the sheer variety and scale of violent threats that we face, that this would be the most important matter consuming our body politic. But the last decade has shown us that the worth of human life is very cheap in this country and January 10 proved to be no exception. On a day when these horrific attacks should have received wall-to-wall coverage, the news media was more concerned with the latest antics of Tahirul Qadri and other prominent political leaders. These political leaders did not seem particularly vexed by the existential terrorist threat we face. Qadri, for one, is threatening to bring hundreds of thousands of people to Islamabad for his Long March. Right now, the only march we need is against the killers in our midst, but Qadri seems to be more worried about strangling democracy. He certainly has street power but he is wielding that power in a thoughtless way that betrays little concern for the tens of thousands of victims of terrorism.

Mainstream political parties have been no better. At a time when terrorism threatens the very fabric of our nation, they are concentrating on what divides them rather than seeking unity. No mainstream party in the country today actually supports the goals and methods of the militants but they are unable to forge a unified strategy for tackling the militant menace. Unbelievably, there are still many in the political parties who favour negotiations with the militants. Here are many questions for them — questions that they have never been able to answer. Given that there are at least a dozen different groups carrying out terrorist attacks in different parts of Pakistan, who are we going to negotiate with? All negotiations involve give-and-take so what are we willing to give, in the form of territory and lives, to the militants? If our ultimate aim is disarming militants and ensuring they can never attack civilians again, how are we ever going to convince them to do this through negotiation?

This focus on the process of negotiation, rather than the outcome of defeating militants, shows just how little this unending violence is penetrating the bubble in which our politicians reside. The more weakness we show by failing to protect the most vulnerable in society, the more we embolden the militants to replicate days like Bloody Thursday. Our apathy and indifference only make the problem worse. Unity is hard to come by these days but our political class needs to strive for it and show the militants that the country has decided they must be defeated by any means necessary. The time has come to fight fire with fire and finally rout the militants.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2013.

COMMENTS (11)

Feroz | 9 years ago | Reply

@patriot: Those who have lost their near and dear ones to violence will be insulted by your statement. They know who is the killing force and your attempt to pull wool over their eyes by claiming the assailants are foreigners or foreign agents only adds salt to their wounds. Please take off your blinkers and accept the reality that Pakistani citizens are being killed by fellow Muslims who are also Pakistani citizens. Just because you hate others and their beliefs does not entitle you to lay the murder charges at their doorstep and try to mislead people.

2Cents | 9 years ago | Reply

The question is always, Why?

All this is happening because of religion is trying to control the lives of people. But then again, Why? Because the weaker pillar of a society (or any structure) puts more load on other pillars.

Why are the other pillars weak? why?

Lack of proper education with truths and not myths. And there are more factors.

Why is there no emphasis on education? why? It can go on an on.

But, there always comes a time to stop asking why and act. Time for Pakistan probably is now.

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