What can wait, what cant


Chief Minister (5k+ posts)
What can wait, what cant

IN recent weeks, the media focus has remained on the Islamabad protests. On occasion, when the news of the sit-ins is not occupying entire front pages of newspapers and dominating TV bulletins, it is army- issued updates on the Operation Zarb-i-Azb that find room.

Have these two major news stories forced our attention away from the larger canvas of what many of us see as an existential threat to Pakistan? Frankly, the existential threat is of a magnitude that it refuses to stay out of the news for long. And yet we dont appear to be taking it on with full force.

Just the other week, social media was abuzz with discussion whether a 12-page ISIS (terror group) booklet in Pashto distributed around Peshawar was genuine, a declaration of arrival and intent, or merely a copycat nutjobs idea of spreading terror and anxiety among the beleaguered citys residents.

In mid-August, the Samungli Air Base in Quetta, home to the Pakistan Air Force and Army Aviation assets, came under a vicious assault by militants but, fortunately, the base defenders, it is said, tipped off by local civilians killed all the attackers without suffering any loss of life or the base perimeter having been breached.

Now shocking details are emerging of insider collusion in last weekends attempt by militants (claimed both by Al Qaeda and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) to commandeer missile-armed Type 22 Frigate PNS Zulfikar. The TTP may have termed it retaliation for Zarb-i-Azb but Al Qaeda claimed that the group wanted to target a US vessel using the Pak Navy vessel.

In a near unprecedented development, some of those involved in the attack on the naval vessel were captured alive and one of the dead attackers (till recently in a navy uniform himself) was also identified, enabling the investigators to quickly zoom in on some of their accomplices.

In a militant attack in 2011 on PNS Mehran, the navys aviation base in Karachi, where the attackers, demonstrably acting on inside information, damaged or destroyed a number of P3C Orion aircraft, one of the key assets for anti-submarine operations and maritime surveillance.

Just after this attack, journalist Saleem Shahzad wrote of the presence of an Al Qaeda cell in the navy and also suggested that the militants were in contact with the authorities to negotiate the release of their members who had been compromised and arrested.

Like untold instances in Pakistan, someone, somewhere decided not to heed the message and instead, shoot the messenger. Saleem Shahzad disappeared from Islamabad one evening, as did his car, and later his body was found in a canal nearly 100 miles from the capital. His car was found nearby.

Friends who saw his body say he had been beaten to death and his whole body was covered with marks of boots, blunt objects, rods etc. In times when assassins shoot or blow up their victims, someone was trying hard to either extract information or merely ensuring that Saleem Shahzads fate was a warning to all nosy journalists.

The most sympathetic explanation was that this was a warning beating gone horribly wrong and the brief of the snatch squad was to teach Saleem Shahzad a lesson, not kill him. But in a country where, since its inception, major leaders have been assassinated with no killer ever netted, who would have expected a judicial inquiry to reach a definitive verdict on what actually happened to the journalist?

Since Saleem Shahzads warning three years ago, for which he paid the ultimate price, some navy officers have been targeted (in shootings and a bombing) in what have largely been seen as inside jobs or at least where the information could only have come from insiders. If I am not wrong, all but one belonged to the Shia community.

Dawns front page this Friday led on the arrest from Mastung near Quetta of three men involved in the attack on the naval vessel at a base in Karachi. Media reports suggest the three had rented a car and were en route to Afghanistan when intercepted.

Mastung is also said to be the stronghold of the feared and murderous outlawed sectarian group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ), responsible for the mass murder of Shia Hazaras in a number of incidents in Quetta and for attacks on Shia pilgrims heading to or coming from Iran.

One can be sure the intelligence agencies would be investigating whether the three were headed, as first suggested, to Afghanistan or were en route to a sanctuary provided by their allied terror group, LJ, in the Mastung area where they were caught.

Whether it is Balochistan or Karachi or any other part of Pakistan, religious extremism and intolerance are now posing a serious threat. In a dangerous escalation, where earlier only the hit squads of one school of thought were active, of late what appear to be retaliatory killings have also started.

It is immaterial whether, as some suggest, the same agents provocateurs are targeting both. This must be dealt with on a war footing. How much poor governance and poverty has contributed to this mess is open to debate as this ideology seems to have adherents and affluent supporters in the oil-rich Gulf region as well.

Electoral reform, more credible representative rule and top drawer governance are a crying need, but undeniably even more critical is a political consensus to deal with this explosive situation. It is a fault line that just cannot be wished away.

Over the next four weeks, when a number of new leaders come to key roles in the army, one hopes theyll be able to collectively focus on how not just the country but also their own institution may be imperilled by this fault line. Nation-building can wait. Securing the nations integrity cant.



Prime Minister (20k+ posts)
Qadri and IK got bored....couldn't wait so another deadline dedi.......but I'm sure is bar govt will ignore it....Pehle deadlines khatam hone pe Konsa karnama ker liya dono na[hilar]
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