NationalVolume 14 Issue # 19

The way forward for Pakistan

Recently, there have occurred many important incidents in Pakistan. The bloodbath in Quetta’s Hazarganji area, massacre of innocents in Balochistan’s coastal town of Ormara, the 17-hour-long battle with militants in Peshawar, the DG ISPR’s warning to the PTM leadership, terrorists’ attack on Pakistani troops who were undertaking fencing efforts along the Pak-Afghan border in North Waziristan, changes in the PML-N party, Nawaz Sharif’s bail rejection, the PPP’s reactionary politics, changes in the PTI government’s ministries, grouping in the party, removal of the SBP and FBR heads, massive price hike in Ramazan and the dreadful HIV/AIDS crisis in Larkana are some incidents which will have lasting effects on Pakistan in coming days.


The war against terrorism is still going on in the country. Last month, the militants had killed around 40 innocent people, including security personnel, in different terror attacks. They killed more than 20 people belonging to the Hazara community in Quetta by detonating and IED in a vegetable market. The sole purpose of the attack was to instigate a sectarian war in the country. Terrorists are targeting the ethnic minority group again and again. In these attacks, so far, around 500 members of the community have lost their lives while over 600 have been injured. The state has failed to protect the community which is very shameful and tragic. In spite of heavy presence of police and military, the situation is not fully under control. Hazaras, having distinctive ethnic features, are becoming an easy target of terrorism. They are facing difficulty in even attending educational institutions, visiting hospitals, doing business and travelling freely in the city. Due to this situation, more than 70,000 Hazaras have already left Quetta. Since 2014, no doubt, the Pakistan army has made great gains in the fight against terrorism. However, the state has utterly failed to give protection to the beleaguered community.


In another terror incident, occurred less than a week after the tragic Hazaras bloodbath, at least 14 people were shot dead after buses in which they were travelling were stopped on the Makran Coastal Highway by armed men. After checking the passengers’ CNICs, the attackers cold-bloodedly killed the victims. Most of them are said to be members of the navy and Coast Guards. A gang of banned separatist groups has taken responsibility for the killings. The separatist groups had committed a similar massacre in Mastung in 2015. They pulled off non-Baloch passengers from two Karachi-bound coaches and killed them. The separatists are also killing migrant labourers now and then in Balochistan. On Oct 31 last year, they killed five construction workers hailing from Punjab and Sindh in Gwadar. In Fact, there have also been many other terror attacks in 2019 before the attacks in Quetta and Chaman as well. Six Levies personnel were martyred in an attack on a check-post in Ziarat on March 20. On January 29, eight policemen and a civilian were killed in an attack on a Deputy Inspector General’s office in Loralai. Then, in November 2018, terrorists attacked on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi.


It is true that Pakistan is a much safer country than it was before Zarb-e-Azb and other military operations. In these operations, the army has got success in eliminating many terrorists and their hideouts in Pakistan. But, the terror incidents show that the war against terrorism is not yet over. The state and the army need to take many steps, including implementing the NAP fully, to win the war completely.

There is not an iota of doubt that many external forces like India’s RAW, Afghanistan’s NDS, America’s CIA and Israel’s Mossad are playing their games in Pakistan, especially Balochistan. They want to halt the CPEC and destabilise Pakistan for protecting their own partisan interests in the region. They are giving help to all anti-Pakistani groups, including the TTP, PTM and Baloch separatist groups etc. for achieving their nefarious designs. The army has accused the PTM (Pashtun Tahafuz Movement) of receiving funds from foreign intelligence agencies. Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, has categorically said: “Those playing in others’ hands, their time is up. Their time is up. We would do everything for the people of that area, for addressing their grievances, in whose name the PTM is working. I have already told you what progress has been made in that direction.”


No state can tolerate groups which indulge in anti-state activities. The provocative slogans and inflammatory rhetoric of some PTM leaders are not acceptable. But, it is also a fact that their genuine demands should be fulfilled. The people of KP, including former FATA, have suffered badly due to the terror war. Millions of people were forced to leave their homes. After the military operations, many of them went back to the ruins of their homes. They have no facilities as the state has not given due attention to their problems and sufferings. The state should address all the problems which the people of the area are facing. All PTM members are not anti-state, as the Army Chief has clearly declared.  In fact, there are some fault-lines which the enemy of Pakistan is exploiting to achieve its own targets. There are many factors like poverty, corruption, unpatriotic political and religious leaders, ill-advised policies, social and economic inequality, injustice, exploitation, feudalism, illiteracy and the prevailing principle of “might is right” which create these fault-lines.


According to the UN’s 2018 Human Development Index, Pakistan stands at 150th among 189 countries in the Human Development Index measured by combining indicators of income, education and life expectancy. The Global Food Security Index ranks Pakistan 77th among 109 countries. According to Pakistan Education Statistics 2016-17, 22.84 million (44 per cent) out of the total 51.53 million children are out of school. According to Alif Ailaan, “Around 65 per cent of government schools have no boundary walls, 55 per cent of them operate in dilapidated structures, 58 per cent have no toilets and 64 per cent have no running water. Further, there is just one teacher for 37 children in Pakistan.”


The World Justice Project, in its report, placed the country at number 105 out of a total of 113 countries reviewed on the basis of rule of law, absence of corruption and security. The dysfunctional and lax state of justice system can be gauged from the huge backlog of litigation. Currently, there are 1.9 million pending cases. In a country with a population upward of 207 million, there is one judge for 48,838 people. Unfortunately, around 10 children suffered abuse every day with 3,832 cases of child abuse reported in 2018. And, now, the HIV/AIDS crisis in Larkana has shaken the entire society.  According to news reports, more than 4,100 people have been screened for HIV and 157 positive cases were identified. “Among the 156 new HIV cases, 129 are children and 27 adults,” says a report of the Sindh AIDS Control Programme. Some 90 infected children are aged between two to five, 26 between six to 15 years and 13 one year or less. This tragedy shows that the Sindh government has shown a criminal negligence. The PPP leadership has not given any attention to improve conditions in Sindh in the last ten years of its rule, which is very pathetic.

It is the duty of the state and the PTI government to remove all the factors and causes which are becoming exploiting points and tools in the hands of the enemy to destabilise the country. The National Action Plan must be fully implemented if the state and government want to create peace and prosperity in the country. Otherwise, there will be chaos in the coming days.


In this war, the media, electronic, print and social, has also played its pivotal role. Even, the ISPR DG has acknowledged this fact, which is commendable. But it is also a fact that journalism is not an easy job in Pakistan. Three days ahead of the World Press Freedom Day, 2109, Malik Amanullah Khan, a journalist and the chairman of the Parowa Press Club, was killed in Dera Ismail Khan’s Parowa area. Around 72 journalists have already been killed in Pakistan from 2002 to 2018. According to the Pakistan Press Foundation, “as many as 48 of them are known to have been the intended target. Between 2003, when American journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and killed in Pakistan, and 2013, trials in only five cases were concluded. Of the five murder convictions, three have been appealed”.


The press in Pakistan has faced many coercive and draconian laws and censorships in its 71 years history. Many unseen and seen forces are still playing their part in directing the media. Many journalists have been beaten, threatened, kidnapped and even killed. Recently , a reporter from an Urdu newspaper has gone missing in Karachi. Many media houses and newspapers are facing financial difficulties after the government has decreased their adds. In spite of the difficulties, the media is educating, informing, guiding and entertaining the people and increasing business activities in Pakistan. It has, recently, tackled and defeated the media of India in the fifth generation or media war. The state and the government should protect the rights and lives of journalists if they want to win a hybrid war.