One required the patience of a saint to bear with the ‘shock and grief’ that most of ‘our representatives’ tried to display in the National Assembly a day after the killing of 80-plus Pakistanis in a suicide bombing at a historic church in Peshawar. The crafty posturing failed to hide what they really felt from the heart of their hearts, however.
Immediately after the incident, some Peshawar-based journalists working for foreign news agencies received telephone calls from a spokesperson, who, after introducing himself, took responsibility on behalf of a relatively unknown group of rabid extremists.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, on the contrary, dismissed their claim while talking to media outside Lady Reading Hospital Sunday evening.
Even the day after he told the National Assembly in clear words that none of the multiple agencies intercepting phone conversations of extremist elements was yet willing to confirm involvement of the said group. In fact, he went a step further, stressing that the group that had claimed the Peshawar attack had no ‘presence’ in that city and its Taliban-dominated areas. We have no choice but to trust our interior minister. By questioning involvement of the said group, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is sending out ‘the message,’ that “elements not wanting the government to succeed in establishing peace through negotiations with Taliban,” have begun staging high-profile incidents of terrorism.
The idea is to subvert the possibility of engaging Taliban in negotiations for peace. The recently held all parties conference has mandated the government to go for these negotiations. Throughout the past week, both the government and potential interlocutors continued generating the feeling as if both parties were witnessing concrete developments towards the desired end.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Imran Khan and Maulana Fazlur Rehman are of the unanimous belief that the recent acts of terrorism are aimed at subverting the peace negotiations. They could be right, but why are they shying away from naming these ‘elements’.
Rehman Malik, Chaudhry Nisar’s predecessor, kept telling us throughout five years of the previous government that RAW, Mossad and the CIA, etc, had cultivated agents in Fata and Balochistan. Such agents are launched to stage stunning incidents of terrorism to malign not only Pakistan but also Islam that otherwise is a recognised ‘religion of peace.’ The pro-Taliban parties of the religious-right routinely tell us from their pulpit that “no Muslim can kill another Muslim or attack any mosque or shrine associated with different sects.” I have no means to refute this narrative with any solid proof or data. But I am not the interior minister.
Chaudhry Nisar is a doer. He also works for a prime minister, who has been elected as the prime minister for the third time, primarily due to his ‘managerial skills and experience in governance.’ Isn’t it time that both the prime minister and the interior minister employed all tools at their disposal to locate ‘elements’ connected with cloak and dagger outfits of hostile countries? We can understand the limits of our state when it comes to arresting these “elements”. But the interior minister has boasted in an elected house that our intelligence gathering agencies are appropriately equipped to intercept chatter among terrorists. He must ask the snooping agencies to furnish a dossier for him that could help establish the charge that foreign-connected ‘bad Taliban’ were exclusively responsible to project Pakistan as a dangerous country where no one should feel safe and secure.
For a variety of reasons, the interior minister might not find it appropriate to publicise such a dossier, but the prime minister can discreetly pass this information on to the Indian prime minister during the meeting with him in New York. Taking advantage of his presence at the UN, Nawaz Sharif can also share relevant parts of the data with different officials representing ‘hostile countries’ during its General Assembly session. It is time to confront the world with the whole truth and salvage the collective image of both Islam and Pakistan.
Without the abovementioned initiatives, Chaudhry Nisar and his old buddy, Imran Khan, will only be seen as spinning out yarns to justify their lack of will to address the issue of terrorism with full force and commitment. We have had enough of this yarn-spinning for almost a decade. Things should be different this time around.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2013.