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.