Sitting ducks

Taliban & cohorts have us over a barrel, helped along by those who say all will be well after US leaves Afghanistan.

Kamran Shafi August 08, 2013
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto.

For, we too are floating about merrily, unaware that we are plumb in the sights of a dangerous, most fearful, and cruel enemy who would not think twice about cutting men, women and children’s heads off with a blunt knife (to cause the most pain) in his quest for complete control of the Citadel of Islam. And thence onwards to the Caliphate through Global Jihad.

And here we are, bringing out Eid fashion lines; putting up billboards with pretty young models showing off the latest in shoes, and handsome men sporting the latest waistcoats with gilded buttons; and advertising flights to some delightful Eden or other on one of the seven airlines that condescend to fly into one of our airports.

Despite the fact that we are regaled daily with the latest figures of our brave young soldiers and policemen and levies and khasadars, and plain innocent civilians being put to the knife by the savages; shot dead; blown up and kidnapped for ransom. Of the latest jailbreaks with not one casualty suffered by the terrorists; of the newest attempt at attacking the airport of the capital itself by up to 20 of the murderers and that too on the very night that the US secretary of state is in town.

Not even the wanton killing of 13 poor Punjabi labourers, brutally killed in Balochistan by terrorists while on their way home for Eid; not even the bombing of a football game in Lyari in which 11, mostly teenagers and even younger, are blown up, moves a hair on our heads. We go for sehri and iftar at Lahore’s fancy restaurants, and tooling about in our fancy SUVs and BMWs.

Let’s face it friends: the Taliban and their cohorts have us over a barrel, helped along by those who say all will be well after the Americans leave Afghanistan. I can just hear the Taliban laughing up their sleeves as they advance their project of taking over the whole blessed country. All IS lost already: what is left is for us to beseech the terrorists to go easy on us. Unless, that is, we wake up and do something about it, and stand behind our army solidly to give it the support it needs to root out this evil.

Which reminds me: while I thought there was just the Corps of Military Police Centre (CMP) and School stationed in DI Khan Cantonment, we are now informed by fellow tweeter and good man Major Agha Amin, formerly of the 11th(PAVO) Cavalry, that there is a whole Artillery Division and two Brigades stationed just 10 minutes’ drive from DIK: near enough to hear the massive explosions caused by the rampaging Taliban.

And what indeed of the CMP Centre stationed in DIK city itself? Was no alarm raised; no probe sent to see what all the racket was about? Could this not have developed into an attack on the CMP itself? Will someone in authority, such as the ISPR, clarify this please? WE have to act soon, or else we are really, really done for.

Lethargically and very, very slowly, the PTI government has started to blame (let us not be afraid to name it) the army for not coming out to help when asked, not only by the local officials concerned, but by the Chief Minister of K-P himself: Dunya August 5, 2013.

The paper says that whilst the army was in the loop and took part in making the arrangements to face the onslaught as foretold in the intelligence reports, it was not there when the assault did happen. The K-P CM has gone to the extent of saying that he himself called the Corps Commander, etcetera.

These are most serious charges and while the ‘security establishment’ has said that it will share the inquiry report with the provincial government, you and I, reader, taxpaying citizens whose money pays for both the provincial government and the military, don’t know what the blazes is going on.

However, the K-P government, specially the Chief Minister, must answer some most critical questions: 1) What time did he first find out about the assault on that critically important jail which held so many violent criminals, one of them with a half-million dollars bounty on his head? 2) Who informed him in the chain of command: the Chief Secretary, the Commissioner, the IG Prisons,or the IG police? 3) What time did he call the Corps Commander for help and what was his exact response?

This is no laughing matter: this is that critical and perilous and dire time that comes upon nations facing extreme threats to their very existence; this is not to be fobbed off by either the government of K-P under whose watch this extremely dreadful event happened, or by the army which has been directly accused by an elected chief minister of the most strategically important province of the country of not doing its bounden duty: which is coming to the aid of the Civil Power when specifically requisitioned, not only by local civilian officials authorised according to law, but by the chief executive of the province himself.

The military too needs to look inwards and see where it failed. As if the earlier raids and attacks and killings and destruction of our assets (yes, such as AWACS; PC-3 Orions; and Naval helicopters) was not enough.

As the great poet said, this is that “tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries”. For us it simply means that if we do not stop confusing the people about who their real enemy is; if we do not start telling the truth about the terrorists’ ‘takeover’ project which started in 1994, a full seven years before the Americans ever entered the ‘War on Terror’; if we do not make the people fighting mad, we are dead in the water: like those sitting ducks we spoke about earlier.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2013.

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