NationalVolume 12 Issue # 23

A tormented state

Pakistan is bleeding. Pakistan is burning. Pakistan is declining. And the tragedy is that there is no one who could stop this eventuality; there is no leadership who could create peace in this poverty-stricken and conflict-riddled land; there is no institution which could protect the fundamental rights of the Pakistanis; there is no force which could crush the menace of terrorism, sectarianism, extremism, corruption, poverty and ignorance. The State, the government and its all institutions have utterly disappointed the Pakistanis. The people have become disillusioned with the false pledges, erroneous assertions and hyperbolic slogans of the corrupt leadership of the country. In short, there is no hope for the poor people to lead a prosperous, productive and peaceful life in this “land of the pure”. Due to this uncertainty, insecurity and hopelessness, even, a heavy pall hangs over the country, blighting what should be unalloyed joyous occasions.

Even in the holy month of Ramazan and just before Eid ul Fitar, around 300 innocent people, including children and women, have lost their lives in different incidents of terrorism in Parachanar, Quetta, Karachi and the oil tanker blast tragedy in Bahawalpur.

On June 23, the last Friday of Ramazan (Jumma tul Wida), around 90 innocent people were killed and more than 200 others injured in two different terror attacks in Parachinar and Quetta. The death toll from Friday’s two blasts is still increasing and there are still many injured persons who are in a very critical condition.

According to reports, “the first blast, which took place in the busy Turi Market where people were shopping for Eid, occurred minutes after an Al Quds Day rally had started dispersing at some distance from the scene of the attack. Another explosion shook the area soon after a large number of people rushed to the site to help the injured”. The Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al-Alami has claimed the responsibility of these two terror blasts.

In fact, Parachinar, capital of Kurram Agency in FATA, a mainly Shia area in the tribal belt, has become a constant target of terrorism this year. Before Friday’s attacks, the terrorists, belonging to the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi alAlami and a splinter group of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led by Sheheryar Mehsud, killed 24 people in January 2017. In March, the militants killed around 22 people in a second terror attack. The terrorists belonging to the Jamaatul Ahrar claimed this attack. The gravity of the situation can be realised by the fact that 133 people have been killed and 555 injured in the first six months of the year. The terrorists have used the same pattern in all the terror attacks. It is a security failure. The PML-N government has egregiously failed the people of Parachinar.

“We have been a constant target of the Taliban, but the government has always failed us,” Muzamil Hussain, an activist from Parachinar told AFP. “I don’t understand how can someone drive a bomb-laden vehicle through all the checkposts of the military and other paramilitary troops and reach here; it simply isn’t logical, and this is what we are protesting against,” he said.

Members of the Shia community protested against these killings and the government’s failure to protect their lives. According to local officials, “They offered their Eid prayers wearing black armbands in the market in Parachinar, where the bombs tore through crowds of shoppers on Friday”. The protesters also rejected the compensation package announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that came a week after the incident. They demanded to be treated like the rest of Pakistan. However, after the visit of the Army Chief to Parachinar, the protestors ended their protest. The Army Chief has pledged to crush terrorists across the country and declared Parachinar a safe city.

Then, in another incident, terrorists belonging to the militant Islamic State group and the Jamaatul Ahrar, killed 14 people, including 10 policemen in Quetta. On that very day, militants killed four policemen in Karachi. They were killed when they were breaking their fast at a roadside restaurant.

It is very strange that PM Nawaz Sharif has not visited the area of Parachinar. It shows Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s callousness, carelessness, unpopularity among the people and absence of any political solution to crush terrorism. It also shows that the Panama case has absorbed all the energies and attention of the PM. He only wants to protect his and his family’s corruption, political power and rule. In other words, the PM has literally become blind to other important security-related issues which the country is facing. Many analysts and politicians are of the view that Nawaz Sharif gives importance to the Punjab only. They say that “the prime minister left London to rush to Bahawalpur. The naysayers were unimpressed: prior attacks in FATA and two other provinces didn’t shatter his complacency, so why this? We hoped he would prove them wrong. Instead the naysayers were proven right. Bahawalpur is part of Punjab. Parachinar is not. Quetta is not. Karachi is not. As of this writing, the prime minister has visited one of the above, and none other”.

These terror incidents clearly manifest that, in spite of sacrificing lives of around 65,000 civilians and 6,000 security personnel and spending more than £120 billion, the war against terror is still proceeding. There is no respite in terror attacks in the country and the government and the army have failed to conclusively defeat the terrorists.

The Parachinar attacks clearly show that terrorists are trying to ignite sectarian war in Pakistan. It is the duty of our government and security agencies to foil the evil designs of the sectarian ISIS and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi by taking pre-emptive measures. No doubt, there was a security lapse in Parachinar and Kurram Agency which should not be repeated. The government is not serious about implementing NAP (National Action Plan) fully. It should keep aside its partisan interests and give priority to national interests. The war against terrorism cannot be won without getting rid of poverty, corruption, unemployment, inept police and judicial systems, ignorance, feudalism , economic inequality and foiling the conspiracies of external forces like the Indian RAW, the Afghan NDS the American CIA and Israel’s Mossad.

The Bahawalpur tragedy – in which 206 innocent people, including children and women, were burnt alive – could have been avoided. But, there was no road police and safety awareness. The investigative report on this tragic oil tanker inferno suggests that the police showed negligence which turned the accident into a calamity. The motorway police did not play its role professionally. There was not a large contingent of police to stop the people from collecting the spilled oil. There was no senior officer in place. It is a fact that the SHO and the AC reached the spot very late. There was no staff present at the site from the disaster management department. There were no burn units in the hospitals of the area. After ruling Punjab for more than 20 years, the PML-N government has done nothing for the people of that backward area. It has just plundered the poor people of Pakistan. The corrupt PML-N government is diverting funds allocated for hospitals and education to building roads and bridges to earn more kickbacks and commissions. They are tools in the hands of “economic hitman”. They are deliberately ignoring the education and health sectors.

The people of Pakistan need education, good health and economic prosperity. But, Pakistani leaders are not willing to provide these life-giving, progress-making and nation-developing facilities to the poor people of Pakistan as these things are threat to their corrupt rule. The ruling elite likes to build its rule on the dead bodies of the poor Pakistanis. The callous ruling elite should pay heed to columnist Fahad Hussain’s words: “Parachinar. Again. Quetta. Again. Karachi. Again. The same terror, the same carnage. The same murder, madness and mayhem. Yet again they strike. Yet again we fail. Yet again we die…”

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee