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جمعہ، 22 فروری، 2013

Hazara Carnage: what kind of a Pakistan do we want?

There was no open condemnation of the terrorist outfit based in south Punjab that has been carrying out a spate of attacks against the Shia community and not only that, openly brag that by ethnic cleaning of the community, they were fulfilling a great religious obligation. Imran Khan did criticise the outfit forcefully and so did Mian Shahbaz Sharif who ordered a police action against its network in the province, thus shrugging of the charge levelled against his party for previously lending verbal support to the outfit. Meanwhile the arrest of a suspect from Lahore with the discovery that it was from here that explosive material was procured offers a crucial clue which will should help the investigation process.

Repeated mass killings in terrorist attacks have left the nation in total disarray—non-stop chatter Interior Minister Rehman Malik is no different. On Wednesday, Rehman Malik put up a flimsy defense in the Senate to his failure against the security lapses that gave vent to terrorism particularly in Balochistan and in other provinces, saying that the real ire of terrorist attacks should be chief ministers because law and order was responsibility of provincial governments under the 18th Amendment. If that is the case why is he poking his nose in the provincial affairs? A question many need to ask. Anyhow, he went on to say that ‘instead of criticizing him summon all the four chief ministers and ask them what’s going on why didn’t they act on the intelligence shared by the federation. Perhaps in the heat of the moment he forgot that the province of Balochistan is governed by the governor not by a chief minister hence the responsibility for provision of security to life and property rests on the federal government. ‘Knowledgeable’ Malik, sharing his ‘valuable intelligence’ with the Senate says there exists a nexus among Al-Qaeda, LeJ and Balochistan Liberation Army and Sipah-e-Sahaba and Jaish-e-Muhammad and are also involved in terrorism, and added that he provided a list of 3117 suspected terrorists, of which, 31 operatives of Lahore-based LeJ, had recently been arrested in Karachi. Even worst followed in his rhetoric that the Punjab houses hubs of terrorists and warned of direct intervention if the provincial government failed to eliminate the terrorists. The menace of terror continued throughout the term of the incumbent government, express Interior Minister should also tell the people despite inability of the provincial governments for nearly five years, what he is waiting for why the issue has not dealt forthwith. Perhaps, Malik is waiting for tomorrow that never comes.

Like him, the ISI too attempted to absolve itself in a report submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan of intelligence debacle that resulted systematic cleansing of Hazaras. The worst part is the two—the ISI and Malik—have pointed the fingers at the Punjab—a relatively safe province to live—of having some linkage with the banned outfits. Secondly, the reports say that explosives were purchased and transported from Lahore to Quetta to carry out Hazaras’ massacres. Indeed, there is no mechanism in place to check dealings of chemicals in the province. Earlier, a call for placing bar on the sale of chemicals and material being used in explosive-making was heard from Afghanistan and now it is coming from within the country.

The Punjab Chief Minister, who had managed the province relatively better, must not take the finger pointing easy rather should launch a hot pursuit against the terrorist hubs operating in the province if there is any. Even serious are the reports of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah’s suspected association with the LeJ operative Malik Ishaq and others—a charge that Rana denies. Yet the reports had been in the air for quite some time that he had been active to bring some extremists from South Punjab, willing to surrender militancy, into mainstream politics. Whatever the role he had played in South Punjab does underscore a need for immediate scrutiny at the highest level.

Over 44 percent of country’s religious schools, said to be breeding extremism, are working in South Punjab which may have formed the basis for the Interior Minister to belief that out of 1,764 persons associated with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Muhammad, 726 belonged to South Punjab. Again he knows yet he failed to move the authorities concerned to introduce uniform syllabus under a watchful regulatory authority. Agree or not, the fact is the federal and provincial governments, though claim to have been fighting out terrorism, have failed to do enough to stem extremism. Now the internal situation has become extremely critical rather the country is at the crossroads. Much-wanted decisions to save Pakistan should have come much earlier. Alas! Lack of political will to transform the country is hurting today. The incumbent government has, for sure, failed to prioritize the issues confronting the nation hence Rehman Malik seems engaged in fighting a lost case for the rulers since the role of the Interior Ministry sounds of a post office sending and receiving the dispatches, having no say in the Administrative hierarchy at any level. Now term of the government is going to expire in less than a month time thus the government is left with no time to deliver at any front. If they hope for tomorrow it never comes.

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