Where the hell is the truth?

Published: December 26, 2014
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto 

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

It’s been almost two weeks since the dastardly massacre of schoolchildren, mainly from military families, at the Army Public School (APS), Peshawar located right next to the Defence Officer’s colony and no more than a kilometre from the corps commander’s house and yet no inquiry has been held, no one has been punished these many days later.

Instead, talking heads on our television channels are finding fault with the federal government and whatever there is of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta); and generally going about as we Pakistanis go about after an event like the Peshawar atrocity: obfuscating; attempting to sweep the dirt that surrounds us under the, as I call it, ‘rather humongous and by now very filthy carpet’; and sticking our heads in the sand much like ostriches.

When public anger rises and all of the above fails, the various agencies responsible for whatever calamity has occurred start to lie and attempt to shovel the blame on to the next office or agency instead of standing up and taking the blame squarely and making sure such a catastrophe is never repeated.

Take the case of the present tragedy and the trauma it has left the country in, particularly those young students who actually saw their mates go down in a hail of bullets at the hands of the beasts who repeatedly and cold-bloodedly shot their victims until there were mounds of young bodies heaped here and there wherever the poor children huddled together trying to find safety from the cruel brutes.

Take the warning letter of the much-maligned Nacta addressed to the chief secretary of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P); the provincial police officer (aka Inspector General of Police — PPO being the new confounding name, the brainchild of Lt. Gen Naqvi of the National Reconstruction Bureau fame); the Inspector General Frontier Corps and other officials concerned, specifically warning them of intelligence reports suggesting that an attack on army-run schools like the APS was being planned.

The warning, dated August 28, 2014 and available on social media says: “Threat Alert No 802: It has reliably been learnt that Commander Khaksar Ameer (TTP Orakzai Chapter) in collaboration with Bilal Irhabi/Ubaid Ullah have made a plan to carry out terrorist activities against Army Public Schools/Colleges and other education institutions run by Pakistan Army (particularly located in K-P).”

Inside of three and a half months of the report came the terrible attack on the APS in Peshawar. Where was the government of K-P? Whilst we know that Chief Minister Pervez Khattak was entertaining the Great Khan dancing on top of the container in Islamabad, but where were the rest of them? Why were no stringent measures taken by any politician/official to prevent the attack so clearly presaged in the Nacta warning?

Should those responsible for public safety in K-P not be charged with criminal dereliction of duty of the worst kind that resulted in the deaths of 134 innocent children, six teachers and three soldiers who had come to drop their children at school for a day of learning, not knowing that a few hours later they would be cradling their dead babies in their arms? Should the chief minister himself not be criminally charged? The sad part, dear friends, is that we will never know the truth. Friends of friends of friends will kick in and it will all be forgotten within weeks. The only ones who will not forget are the mother and the father and the sister and the brother and the friend who has lost their beloved. Much shame on our heads.

It is not as if the truth is hard to find among line officials: it is equally elusive among those who have lorded it over us. Whilst one had seen and heard The Commando, that incredibly puerile, indeed juvenile (read his ‘book’ if you don’t believe me: stand up Humayun Gauhar!) Full General (how I hate the appellations three-star; two-star nonsense!) Pervez Musharraf, former chief of army staff and ‘President’ of this luckless country, say that he and the higher command of the army and the ISI did not know that the awful terrorist Osama bin Laden was hiding up in Pakistan, there could be lower ranked ISI and army personnel who might have aided him.

And while that gob-smacked us no end, fully three years later, and for reasons best known to himself he goes and gives an interview to CNN in the aftermath of the Peshawar atrocity in which the quite unbelievable man says just the exact opposite. He says Osama was not given up by him because Pakistan had its own reasons, some of which had to do with the country’s “honour and sovereignty”. I ask you! Here, reader, enjoy.

As my readers well know, many mind-boggling things have happened over the past month or so: silly statements et al, but these pearls out of The Commando’s mouth must surely take the cake! Can he not understand that this is the age of instant recollection, where everything said by the most insignificant of us gets recorded in a thousand forms and sites and languages, and can be accessed just by surfing the internet?

Can the Commando not understand that by virtue of one sitting atop the heap that is Pakistani power, he gets noticed? That saying Osama might have been supported by low-level operatives of the army and/or the ISI, in other words ‘rogue elements’ within the organisations, is a mighty dangerous and downright foolish thing to say?

Can he not get it through his head that saying the exact opposite only three years later that of course he himself knew but did not give up the terrorist to the Americans because of Pakistan’s “honour and sovereignty” is an even more stupid thing to say? Who will put a halter on the man?

Let me end by saying that had I or some other poor sod said what the Commando has said, we would be confirmed as ‘traitors’!

Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th,  2014.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • raider
    Dec 26, 2014 - 1:23AM

    contradictory eliciting is that writer instead of holding responsible the same very institute which is responsible for security of the state in general and particular to that very school is pouring all responsibility over provincial govt and it is further super astonishing that security alert was issued by same institution and its allied intelligence agencies and writer intentionally or unintentionally holding responsible to provincial govt whose police even don’t carry any call taping apparatus nevertheless provincial govt could not be freed from this massacre.


  • Anarchist
    Dec 26, 2014 - 1:53AM

    I think that CM Khattak should have resigned, despite the fact that APS is located in an area controlled by army. By the same logic, SS should also have resigned long time ago, not least because of the Model Town Massacre and more recently Wagah Border tragedy about which Punjab government was reportedly informed beforehand. Similarly, Qaim Shah should have also resigned because of death of about 300 children in Thar alone, not to mention deaths in hospitals due to negligence.

    Did Mr. Shafi ask SS to resign?


  • Humza
    Dec 26, 2014 - 1:59AM

    Hard hitting but honest piece that hits the nail on the head! Everyone I know in North America with a Pakistani background cringe and feel embarrassed the moment Musharraf opens his mouth to spew his barely understandable gibberish. He represents all of that is wrong in Pakistan and he should be muzzled by the authorities. Especially Musharraf should not allowed to give any interviews or opinions to the world’s press. He is out of touch with reality and his comments are frankly hurtful to all Pakistanis and the nation. Most Pakistanis I knew despise Osama Bin Laden and we are pleased he was caught and served justice. Musharraf feels he should have did it but we know Musharraf is capable of nothing but promoting himself. I just wish he would be deported to live in exile and leave Pakistan alone. We alone know the problems of terrorism and instability happened during his disastrous decade long rule when not 1 MW of electricity was added to the national grid.


  • Gramscian
    Dec 26, 2014 - 2:38AM


    When will you write about dereliction of duty in Punjab and demand resignation of CM Sharif?


  • Nirvana
    Dec 26, 2014 - 2:45AM

    Lifafa journalism at its peak. Don’t feel sorry for your expected posting as ambassador at large in UK, but it serves you best if you are being posted as the chaparazi of sharifs.


  • Sidster
    Dec 26, 2014 - 3:53AM

    Army Public School safety and security responsibility comes under Armed Services Of Pakistan. KPK has limited resources to protect their own Government institution. Armed Forces should have kept a vigilant eye on these miscreant because of better knowledge of these groups.


  • Dec 26, 2014 - 4:59AM

    That was all in one sentence. Nobody understands what you are trying to say.


  • Salman Ahmed
    Dec 26, 2014 - 6:27AM

    What a pathetic piece.

    The last ‘intelligence sharing’ with the KPK government was in August…and that was for a countrywide alert….not even specific to KPK…..

    very unlike the Wagah bombing where the information was specific.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Dec 26, 2014 - 9:09AM

    First time I have read something about security failure which was most important factor. In any civilized country all concerned should have been punished, bit in our country, majority of the paid stooges have started praising some quarters on winning the war which has not even started.


  • raider
    Dec 26, 2014 - 9:23AM

    @Prashant Chennaiwala:
    increase your conscience and understanding dear,
    lets have a slees urdu: writer held responsible provincial govt more than army and security agencies although these institutions have given alert via a letter to provincial govt and also responsible not just informers for security of state, but themself could not arrange security for a school situated in high security zone of their headquarters and even for a school which belongs to army, how could provincial govt with a police incapable of recording a call of terrorists could protect school from so equipped terrorists(security agencies and army is not under provincial govt)


  • raider
    Dec 26, 2014 - 9:33AM

    @Humza: dear your comments can be titled as “MUSHARRAF” which is not security concern at this time


  • asad
    Dec 26, 2014 - 10:25AM

    warning letter is fake


    Dec 26, 2014 - 11:50AM

    All the leaders of PTI were at the dharnas. The state they were supposed to rule was without any leadership for over 3 months !!!


  • AHK
    Dec 26, 2014 - 1:09PM

    Aptly titled piece because the article spends little time discussing the ‘truth’ and a whole lot on Musharraf who has not been in power for about 7 years now


  • Rex Minor
    Dec 26, 2014 - 1:11PM

    Heavens shuddered when old but wise Ibrahim offered his Future, the son as a sacrifice to be allowed to build the first house of God on the planet. How can one have a future by sacrifising the Future, cried the angels? It would seem that the leadership of the militarised Pakistan have not understood the ancient communication from the perpatrators of the Peshawar massacre that if the army continue to target women and children in their military operations then they need not look forward to their future either?

    Rex Minor


  • Punjab
    Dec 26, 2014 - 1:18PM

    Dear Writer

    Your hate for IK has blinded you so much that you simply believe in anything going against Him or PTI. Sir for your kind information & for all those PMLN supporters, It was confirmed by Ch. Nisar that this letter on social media is Fake and there was general alert and not specific to APS. You should apologize for misleading people on false info


  • raider
    Dec 26, 2014 - 2:32PM

    biased and rhetoric


  • Dec 26, 2014 - 4:29PM

    All the PTI supporters should realize that army can’t interfere in the matter of Provincial administration directly unless requested by the Federal govt.The ultimate responsibility rests with the Provincial government. KPK govt.can’t escape it’s liability. Provincial Police functions under CM not under any agency.

    A warning letter was issued to the chief secretary of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P); the provincial police officer (aka Inspector General of Police and other officials, specifically warning them of intelligence reports suggesting that an attack on army-run schools like the APS was being planned.

    But unfortunately KPK cheap minister was in dancing mood along with all ministers of KPK and supporters were at vibration mood. KPK govt.is facilitating terrorists.Another incident after Jail-break.


  • excalibur
    Dec 26, 2014 - 6:56PM

    Hamza and Shafi clearly live on a different planet. Both of them need psychiatric help real quick


  • Sidster
    Dec 26, 2014 - 8:30PM

    @tariq: The school is inside Cantt area of Peshawar, KPK. Provincial Government of KPK has no say inside the Can’t in regards to what security measure should be taken to secure the school. The writer’s bias is oozing from the article and cause this backlash of messages. If writer wants to hold people responsible then he should hold himself responsible for tarnishing the profession of Journalism by taking envelops of Money from present government to write about the rivals of Punjab.


  • ishrat salim
    Dec 26, 2014 - 8:38PM

    while the alert was sent to KPK govt & officials, it is no secret that many similar warnings were issued, but not 1 warning was taken seriously. In all cases the Provincial govt & their officials were caught napping. There may be following reasons, but y friends may add, if they so desire :

    Over all incompetency
    lack of education, knowledge & therefore, low thinking level.
    the officers are also incompetent, they lack basic knowledge of penal codes
    Non-serious attitude of the govt, because for them human lives are not that important
    Police demoralized due to being politicized
    Police demoralized due to low training, no proper weapons to match the terrorist
    No proper co-ordination between different intel agencies.
    no political will to fight extremism & militancy wings of political parties
    no will to fight religious militant groups
    no will to bring in stringent laws to fight terrorism cases
    no will to make ATC more powerful to take on only terrorism cases for which it was formed. Its incompetency conceded by all political parties which forced them to agree to form military courts, this is not the solution as it will add to more expense to tax-payers.
    Above all, no accountability & none takes responsibility when incidents takes place, but all the officials continue taking fat salaries & perks etc;

    Since, over time, we cultivated a culture of ” no resignation “, we continue to pick up poor people dead bodies.

    Now, that the fire of terrorism has reached the door steps of the elite class, every soul seem awaken & saying ” enough is enough “. This belated action will not absolve us of the blood on our hands & we will still be answerable to Allah swt for our lack of action for so many months & years. We are all responsible for the mess we are in including Mr Shafi.


  • Parvez
    Dec 26, 2014 - 11:28PM

    Second attempt at a comment : Agree with much of what you have said. On Musharraf my impression is that the man is delusional…..and actually believes the stories he spins.


  • numbersnumbers
    Dec 27, 2014 - 3:19AM

    @Rex Minor:
    And of course you can provide all of us with convincing evidence that the Pakistani Army is “targeting women and children” in their ongoing military operations! NOT!
    Just another TTP Apologist spreading more conspiracy stories without a shred of evidence, as usual!


  • Dec 27, 2014 - 4:44AM

    What truth? Don’t you know you are talking about Pakistan?


  • Sexton Blake
    Dec 27, 2014 - 10:45AM

    @Rex Minor:
    Dear Rex Minor
    Ignore numbers. He just keeps repeating the same tired old mantra. One day he will write something that is original and accurate.


  • Muslim Leaguer
    Dec 27, 2014 - 12:28PM

    This article is an eye opener for those who can think independently, without trolling PTI.
    Sadly, there is no accountability in KPK despite a record of proven criminal negligence by the government.
    In Punjab, Law Minister Rana SanaUllah had to resign on Model Town incident. But in Peshawar, nobody dares to resign.
    After the Bannu jail break, PTI Supremo had demanded resignation from then ANP government in KPK. But after D.I.Khan jail break, the same Imran Khan simply passed the buck on Army. When Army has to protect the jails and schools then there is no requirement for such a huge cabinet in KPK enjoying protocol on taxpayer money.


  • Rex Minor
    Dec 28, 2014 - 12:29AM

    @Muslim Leaguer:

    Perhaps in the next you would recommend police escorts for the wives of the military personnel when they go to the shopping mall. It is the responsibility of the army to protect its garrison towns where the civilians have no authority.Ater of interest have you ever had a chance to visit a garrison town, even Mr Nawaz Sharif has no authority to enter without the military commander’s approval.

    Rex Minor


  • Sexton Blake
    Dec 28, 2014 - 9:06AM

    Obviously, attacking a school is dreadful. However, did the Taliban do it? If I wanted to punish the Pakistan Government I could think of many more severe punishments of an economic nature. I will not go into details because ET may not print me.


  • numbersnumbers
    Dec 28, 2014 - 10:43PM

    @Sexton Blake:
    You obviously missed the TALIBAN vigorously taking credit for this attack!
    Please try to tune in more often!


  • Sexton Blake
    Dec 29, 2014 - 9:38AM

    Dear numbers,
    I read what you have read and do not necessarily believe it. However, I have seen factual videos of a large military power dropping military equipment to various terrorist groups who have slaughtered many thousands of innocent children. Additionally, it was reported that the Peshawar terrorists did not speak Urdu. Perhaps you could explain this, or will you continue to be the same as most people and take the easy option? Have a Happy New Year. Obviously, the people of Peshawar will be very unhappy, and I feel for them.


  • MM Marker
    Dec 31, 2014 - 5:59PM

    Non stop Musharraf bashing getting a bit boring ..


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