The same page?

Published: January 16, 2015
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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

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

Ever since the horrific and beastly attack on the children and teachers of the Army Public School (APS), Peshawar, we have heard over and over again, indeed ad nauseum, the mantra: ‘All (the leadership) are on the same page when it comes to combating terrorism in all its forms and (that hackneyed, horrid word again!) manifestations.’

We then saw a flurry of All-Parties Conferences (attended by the PTI too); the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty; hangings aplenty starting with those accused of complicity in plans to attack GHQ and assassinate the Commando. We saw many meetings of parliament to ‘debate’ military courts as a panacea for ending terrorism through quick trials of accused terrorists. Interviews were aired on the media galore; some religio-political parties disagreeing and then making solemn promises of everyone staying together, then again abstaining to vote.

The Senate too, dominated by the PPP, which has always been antithetical towards military courts, was also swayed in the end when its leader, former president Asif Ali Zardari, decided to lend his support to the prime minister and the government, and voted for military courts, the good Senator Raza Rabbani breaking into tears whilst voting against his conscience. Respect, Raza.

The PTI, whilst its MNAs have not yet vacated their apartments in the quite filthy and unkempt MNAs’ hostel, nor given up their cars in the use of NA committee chairmen and other perks, such as free first-class air travel, took cover behind its fig-leaf of resignations and did not attend parliament, despite the fact that the attack took place in the province it runs, or purports to run through its Islamabad-based CM. This was obviously a ploy to shield itself should things not work out the way they are intended to. At the end of it all, after a frenetic 15 days of freely flowing pious words showing much resolve and backbone, and so on and so forth, the whole shoot began to unravel.

The attack happened on the awful day of December 16, 2014; by January 12, 2015, 27 days later, when the school was to be reopened, all of the above seemed to disappear into thin air. Just the COAS was seen inside the school with a smattering of ‘civil society’, meeting children and encouraging them on. The prime minister and other political leaders were conspicuous by their absence.

At 11:11am on January 12, 2015 Imran Khan tweeted: “Planned to be with our brave children who returned to APS today along with Reham & CM KP, but we were advised to postpone visit as COAS was going today for what we were told was a ‘soft’ opening of the APS. But we will be there with our brave children this week.”

Could it be that the prime minister and other political leaders were so advised too?

If so, wrong move. The reopening of the school was the day when the entire leadership of the country should have been seen in the APS Peshawar, offering prayers for the dear departed, meeting the returning children, and praying for the school’s future and the well-being of its teachers and pupils.

That was the day when politicians of all shades: members of the civil service, the military, schoolteachers from other schools, and civil society, should have come together as one to send a tough message to the beasts who so wantonly butchered so many innocents and literally tore the country’s heart out.

For, remember, that whilst many thousands of children have been mercilessly killed in the past along with adults, the graphics of the present attack, and the sheer number of just children massacred was mind-boggling. It brought the country together at long last. Indeed, the fiasco of the Imran Khan visit of January 14 would have been avoided too, the pictures of the gathering of all proving to be inspiring to all those involved in the fight against terror.

I might add that it is good to see that convicted sectarian killers are also getting their due, and that at least three have been executed by now. The test of this whole exercise, of course, will be the execution of Salmaan Taseer’s self-confessed, garlanded, and much-kissed executioner who is fast turning his fellow inmates AND jail guards into fanatical killers too. His first victim through a jail guard’s gun is a blasphemy accused named Mohammad Asghar, a naturalised British citizen, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia years ago. Mercifully, he was just wounded in the attack which has become an international incident.

Meanwhile, back at the farm, the IS is reported to have started recruitments in Helmand province of Afghanistan on our very doorstep. A report on CBS tells us that in spite of the Afghan Taliban warning people not to defect to the IS/Daish:

“Afghan officials confirmed for the first time Monday that the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is active in the south, recruiting fighters, flying black flags and, according to some sources, even battling Taliban militants.

“The sources, including an Afghan general and a provincial governor, said a man identified as Mullah Abdul Rauf was actively recruiting fighters for the group, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.

“General Mahmood Khan, the deputy commander of the army’s 215 Corps, said that within the past week residents of a number of districts in the southern Helmand province have said Rauf’s representatives are fanning out to recruit people. ‘A number of tribal leaders, jihadi commanders and some ulema (religious council members) and other people have contacted me to tell me that Mullah Rauf had contacted them and invited them to join him,’ Khan said.”

So there we have it! I reported last week that Daish wall-chalkings had appeared on walls and gates in the strategically located village of Wah, now home to hundreds of ‘Taliban-types’. Is it too much to ask that a uniformed presence, or at least patrols, are visible in the environs of the area? Forewarned is forearmed.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • John B
    Jan 16, 2015 - 12:56AM

    Eventually PAK is a battle for Takfir philosophy of Daish and the ground had been prepared for a while.

    Recommend

  • MA
    Jan 16, 2015 - 1:46AM

    What children need are counselors at this point, not politicians or cameras! I don’t agree with you on this. If the leaders wanted to show unity, they should have been outside APS together right after the bombing or next day, not now. However, I do agree with you on Qadri. His case is the supreme example of what is wrong with our judiciary. Why is he not in solitary? To all those lawyers writing against military courts, now is the time to clean up your house or pack up and go. We will be better off without our current civilian justice system.

    Recommend

  • Banarsi Brobdingnagian
    Jan 16, 2015 - 2:16AM

    The ‘…too many Taliban types in Wah…’ are Afghan refugees.
    The Afghan refugees need to be repatriated, sent back, settled back
    in Afghanistan. It is time to go..These Afghans are the cause of many
    many ills suppurating this Land of the Pure. Without doubt.
    That will be one less disease..plus they have had an election there.
    Brand new president, new government. Hamid Karzai, the Indian stooge
    kicked out. A new day, a new dawn in Afghanistan. They will go back, to
    build, or destroy their own country.
    After 67 years they still Palestinian camps in Jordan, Lebanon,
    Syria, etc. Because they cannot go back. But these Afghans can go back.
    No, nope, 67 years of Afghan refugee camps are NOT wanted.

    Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Jan 16, 2015 - 6:43AM

    @Banarsi Brobdingnagian:

    You are not advocating ethnic cleansing in which case some one will ask for repatriation of ten millions Indians who were forced to leave their homes and crossed over to Pakistan?

    Rex Minor

    Recommend

  • yousaf
    Jan 16, 2015 - 6:59AM

    ” Meanwhile, back at the farm, the IS is reported to have started recruitment’s in Hellman province of Afghanistan on our very doorstep. A report on CBS tells us that in spite of the Afghan Taliban warning people not to defect to the IS/Daisy:
    “Afghan officials confirmed for the first time Monday that the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is active in the south, recruiting fighters, flying black flags and, according to some sources, even battling Taliban militants.” Wow just what we need .

    Recommend

  • Aphtab
    Jan 16, 2015 - 2:46PM

    The downside of this unprecedented unity is the formation of military courts.

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  • Parvez
    Jan 16, 2015 - 3:12PM

    You astonish me Sir when you respect Raza Rabbani for shedding ( crocodile ) tears and voting against his conscience ( what conscience ? )……..what have our parliamentarians given us, especially the PPP-Z ?…..I can give you a long list of what they have given themselves.

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  • TooTrue
    Jan 16, 2015 - 4:37PM

    I’ve been raising the question about Qadri’s execution in every forum I possibly can. Why doesnt a government minister, e.g. the interior minister, come forward and tell us why Qadri is yet to be hanged when lessor terrorists have been sent to the gallows? I fear there’s sympathy for this cowardly killer in our government and the general population. I hope this isn’t true and the interior minister will tell us the reason for inaction. I’m waiting for a reply. The Taseer family is waiting for justice that’s due to them. Qadri must pay for what he did: killing a good man who was serving his nation.

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  • oBSERVER
    Jan 16, 2015 - 6:25PM

    @MA: Couldn’t agree with you more.We have the most corrupted judicial system and those who run it from a court chaprasi to the highest Judge of the land.

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  • oBSERVER
    Jan 16, 2015 - 6:30PM

    KAMRAN there is a new word in circulation you might have noticed; it is NARRATIVE.I am sure you will have something to say about it. I heard some people using it who I have boubts if they could spell it correctly!

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  • Rex Minor
    Jan 17, 2015 - 2:24AM

    2nd attempt revised,

    I am not a great fan of Albert Einstein on non science matters but the articles of the retired major remind me of his statement;

    He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”
    – (Albert Einstein)

    Rex Minor

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  • shahid ali
    Jan 17, 2015 - 12:14PM

    Sir, you article is good like always. However, the word sending “tough message” to the beast is totally irrelevant. This is only nicety and the way we think. The beast do not care really. The only way is that nation as a whole pick up arms, organize itself and physically comb the entire length and breadth of our country to get rid of these terrorists you called beast and subsequently all “types terrorists”.The symbolic things are good only for optics that matter for you and me and not beasts, make no mistake!.

    Recommend

  • K B Kale
    Jan 18, 2015 - 9:22AM

    Shafisahab,
    Your article is wonderful as usual and brings out how all politicians MUST be on the page the COAS ‘advises’ them to be! Looks like a Sharif ‘appointed’ by the ‘elected’ Sharif is the boss in Pakistan!
    Awaiting your next article which is always such a pleasure to read! Bravo, Sir!

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