Another storm in a teacup, another dangerous distraction

There has been much chatter recently about security companies in Pakistan and whether that is a threat. This despite a complete lack of explanation for what the threat is, or any evidence that a threat exists at all. The latest story comes from a raid on the offices of Inter-Risk, a Pakistani security company that was hired to protect American officials with the US Embassy. This is more than just a storm in a teacup, though, it is a dangerous distraction from the real threats to Pakistan.

On Monday, Dawn published an editorial that quite nicely addresses the misinformation about Inter-Risk most heard among the chatter. First, there seem to be some undefined conspiracies about why Embassies are using private security companies in the first place. This is simply ridiculous. Almost all Embassies use private security companies of one sort or another, and it is no secret that American officials are at particular risk.

The media has been up in arms and spreading conspiracy theories about US Marines protecting the Embassy (even though that is common practice throughout the world). So what is left? Leave the Embassy with no security at all? I am positive that Baitullah Mehsud would have loved for Embassy officials to have no protection, but what peace loving Pakistani would support that? Besides, with Inter-Risk we are talking about a Pakistani security company. Now the media is spreading false rumours about our own security companies? Dawn makes the point perfectly:

First, American officials in particular face serious threats in Pakistan and they certainly need extra security. Since the possibility of marines protecting American officials has been vociferously rejected by the media and denied by the government only recently that leaves the option of private security guards. Second, private security companies operate by the dozen in Pakistan, protecting countless private citizens and properties, and every company trains its employees and provides them with weapons. So unless there is something in particular that the security firm assisting the Americans is doing wrong, there is little sense in opposing a firm that is after all providing jobs and training to Pakistanis.

In addition to the increasingly standard misinformation and conspiracies, this sort of conspiracy is especially dangerous b because it takes attention away from the real threat to Pakistan – the people who are actively trying to assassinate government leaders, kill our citizens, and take over our country. I am, of course, talking about the Taliban.

While Ahmed Qureshi and Shireen Mazari watch Mukhbir over and over to dream up new conspiracy stories, Pakistan’s true enemies are literally attacking our children.

Taliban militants on Tuesday bombed a mixed primary school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, which is troubled by frequent insurgent attacks, officials said.

“The school building, which consisted of three rooms was destroyed in the blast,” local police official Hamzullah Khan told AFP.

No children were killed in this attack, Alhamdulillah, but let us not forget that just recently Talibani militants brutally murdered a group of children in Pakistan. Militants just this week attempted to assassinate a government minister.

These stories of evil security forces with secret plans in Pakistan are fine for movie dramas. But Pakistan faces a real threat from an actual enemy that is attacking and killing our people. As the editors of Dawn quite correctly conclude,

We cannot afford Pakistanis regarding every white man as an American and every American as a spy or marine, for the last thing we need is to become more isolated from the world business, development and aid communities.

Nor can we afford to ignore the real danger from militants that is beating down our door.

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