No Hope for the Citizens of Quetta This Independence Day

Source: AFP/Dawn

Source: AFP/Dawn

Nothing makes the idea of security from terrorist attacks more ironic than probably one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in terms of damage since 9/11 in Pakistan. The terrorists struck mercilessly in Quetta, the troubled capital of the troubled province of Baluchistan. Where the state’s strategic assets take precedence over the lives of the people, like the rest of the country, but where the distinction is more pronounced than anywhere else.

The August 8 suicide bombing on the Quetta hospital targeting and wiping out almost an entire generation of lawyers should have shaken the conscience of the nation to the core. It should be considered an attack on our way of life. In a country under constant threat of dark forces constantly trying to implement Sharia which would bring Mullah Fazlullah-like courts operational, the attack is really significant. It irreversibly harmed the secular, legal system that is very unpopular among a rapidly radicalizing local population.

As usual, the attack was all about harming Pakistan’s strategic and economic plan and the CPEC Project. The Taliban and the Islamic State accepted responsibility, but the obvious culprits to the state remain to be RAW operatives. To other demented minds in the opposition, the blame fell almost exclusively on the Prime Minister. As if he enjoys enough influence over the various complex forces to cause terrorist attacks at will. Regardless of the fact, no one seems to be mourning enough about the fact that the top legal minds of a city are no more. Imagine had this happened in Lahore or Islamabad.

This brings us to the realization of priorities when it comes to national security. Imagine the security measures that our military goes through in order to protect the most sensitive and valuable of our military installations. But what good are these military installations if not for the protection of the intellectuals of the country. Even if that does not mean anything for some people, what good is a military if not for the protection of a country’s judicial system?

No matter what happens, our people would not face up the real threat that Islamist terrorism poses. We do not realize that the threat is to the very existence of human civilization as we know it, and Islamist extremists are not going to rest unless it is destroyed and transformed into a form they consider fit. It is an anti-intellectual cult of death and misery that needs to be fought. But that is only possible if we recognize it as a real threat.

In this mental struggle of countering the problem of organized and brutal terrorism, the people of Quetta must be feeling completely helpless. There is no doubt that you cannot possibly guard or police every single square inch of a country, and doing so could itself spark outrage from the citizens. Our security forces often face harsher than necessary criticism for it. However, no one can argue that tragedies such as the August 8 bombing are a failure of those in charge of intelligence.

We may declare people pointing toward this fact as traitors, but it is not going to solve the problem of terrorism. After an experience of fighting terrorism over the decade, we must also come to terms with the fact that there is only one factor that motivates suicide bombings in this region. Shying away from these facts only makes matter worse. The murder of Quetta lawyers is not going to derail the CPEC project a single bit at this stage, but it shows that we are devoting too much security to protect infrastructure and not enough for the most valuable of our citizens.

As the rest of the nation celebrate the Independence Day, there is no hope for the hundreds of families affected from the tragedy and thousands more who have suffered losses. They know nothing is going to change in terms of the protection of their legal institutions. There is no hope of realizing that we are not really independent unless our judiciary is safe and free.

There is no hope except for the same old resilience that has helped us endure tragedy after tragedy since the waves of terrorism since the 2003 Afghanistan War.

Happy Independence Day.

The post was originally published in The Nation blogs.

 

The Perseverance of the Hazara

Source: Pakistan Youth Alliance Facebook Page

Irfan Ali – Source: Pakistan Youth Alliance Facebook Page

The January 10 Alamdar Road bombings in Quetta targeting the Hazara and Shia community has worked somewhat like the last straw for both these troubled people and our troubled nation. The Hazara community held a sit-in protest for three days with the corpses of the victim on the road. Similar sit-in protests were also held in other major Pakistani cities in solidarity. The protests triggered the Prime Minister to fly over to Quetta and confirm Governor’s rule in Baluchistan, dismissing the Raisani regime.

Even though I am not sure what good would the Governor’s rule do and if the community could feel safer with increased military security, it is encouraging to see that the protest had its effect. It was surely not a wasted exercise but I am not sure if I agreed with every demand of theirs. But I do hope it works whatever they are. I mean at least words were not falling on deaf years this time around, as has largely been the case with Shia killings in Pakistan in general.

Vigil for Irfan - Source: Shiraz Hassan

Vigil for Irfan Ali in Islamabad – Source: Shiraz Hassan

Sadly for Pakistani twitterati and human rights groups, peace activist Irfan Ali ( @khudiali ) also lost his life in the incident. He was one of the most energetic activists around in Pakistan and was the face of the struggle of the Hazara in many ways.  I am sure that he will be missed greatly by those on the forefront of fighting for the rights of the community and it is simply heartbreaking to even think of all the precious lives lost in this incident. All we can do is just write words on blogs and on twitter.

Even Irfan’s last tweets are reflective of how painful the situation is on ground in Quetta for the Hazara community.

 

I met a couple of my friends in the Hazara community who were also actively staging the protests. What I loved about not only them but almost all the members of the Hazara community in the Islamabad protests was that they were smiling and were in high spirits despite all what was happening to them. They were welcoming everyone with open arms. It is not easy to do that when you are going through hell and staring death in the face.

But apart from any one particular sit-in, the entire Hazara community has remained remarkably calm and peaceful. Given the viciousness of the people of this region, their peaceful behavior has restored some of my long lost faith in humanity. Even though all people like me can offer is moral support, I really hope that the people killing them stop doing it. Because I don’t really see the Pakistani government taking any action against them whatsoever.

All the rest of the communities in Pakistan need to break our silence about it. While we can all hope that the madness of the targeted killing of the Shia community in general and Hazara in particular comes to an end, simply increasing the military security will do no good. Baluchistan is already virtually under military control, so what they need to do is take proactive action against terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

If they are serious to stop this genocide, that is.

Why Oh Why? – PPP, Please Get Rid of Abdul Qayyum Jatoi

Politicians in Pakistan have been known for their corruption and loose morals, but no one comes even close to Abdul Qayyum Jatoi of Pakistan People’s Party, who just resigned, correction, was rather sacked, from the position of Federal Minister of Defense Production and is MP from Muzaffargarh, Punjab. He has completely different ideas altogether when it comes to politics, morality and the responsibility of public office. Surely he has revolutionized the concept of equality and equal opportunity with his brilliant ideas. He is probably the only politician, and also the only person in the world, who openly approves of corruption, calls it the right of politicians and believes that everyone should have an equal opportunity for corruption.

Oh well, at least he is honest. Take a look for yourself.

On a TV Talk Show

Recent Press Conference in Quetta

His recent Press Conference in Quetta eventually got him into trouble. Again he shamelessly trumpeted his just ideals of equality that everyone should have an equal right to corruption, which clearly shows that he cares for everyone. Not only that, but he also criticized the Army and the Judiciary to an extent which got the Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani a bit agitated. He should have taken action when he made that irresponsible and insane remark for a figure holding a public office on that TV show, but at last, he made the right move.

He maintained that he made the remark in “personal capacity”. How absurd! Mr. Jatoi, I think you are a leader (unfortunately) and when you make a remark in a public press conference, I don’t think it is considered to be a “personal remark” for which you should not be held accountable, especially when you are serving in public office. First you need some basic lessons in leadership and politics, and only then should you be  allowed to run in elections.

But then again, he is not the only Pakistani politician who needs such a lesson. This clearly speaks volumes about the politics in Pakistan. It does not really need a lot of elaboration.

Jatoi was summoned by the Prime Minister and was asked to explain his remarks. On his failure to satisfy the Prime Minister, he was asked to step down from the position of Federal Minister for Defense Production. Mr. Gilani is one of the most generous souls in the country. Had I been the Prime Minister, not only would I have asked for his resignation from the National Assembly, which is the House of Representatives in Pakistan, but would have also recommended to the Party Leader to kick out this ridiculous criminal from the party.

I think Mr. President needs to take some action as well as the Party Leader, because as far as I know, he has been silent over the matter. I don’t want to be discussing party politics here, but speaking impartially, Pakistan People’s Party, founded by a visionary like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, needs to decide whether it is appropriate to associate themselves with people like Jatoi. Because if they don’t mind, the party will soon be recognized as a symbol of political corruption in Pakistan, if it isn’t already.

At least the people of Pakistan should make up their minds clearly about it. Vote for any party you consider appropriate, but don’t vote for criminals and morally corrupt people like Abdul Qayyum Jatoi, or the country will never progress and improve from its current state of shambles. I am sorry to say this but if anyone votes for Abdul Qayyum Jatoi after all this, I will have to deduce that either that person is not sane, or is a traitor who deliberately wants to destroy Pakistan.