How long do we have to put up with this?

Pakistan is suffering. Unprecedented destruction from floods destroy our countryside. Bands of murderers killing innocent people under a false claim of religion. And a media and middle class that seem to be outraged about everything except what is causing so much suffering.

Nadeem Paracha wrote about his frustration with problem on Sunday when he said that we are “rewarding hate”.

Pakistani society is going through a gradual breakdown. A number of us are lashing out, hoping to find all kinds of enemies to attack for our misfortunes. India, Israel, the US, the UK, Ahamdis, Hindus, Christians, Barelvi, Shias… President Zardari, anyone or everyone but our own individual acts and morals.

It is an act of selective nihilism in which most Pakistanis refuse to trust or listen to state institutions and the government; but then let this hard mixture of cynicism and defiance melt away when engaged by clever, media-savvy chameleons.

The latter make a name and a game out of giving vent to all the repressed strains of religious bigotry, political hatred and delusions of grandeur now brewing in the collective psyche of middle-class Pakistan. It reminds one of the damaged and hurt Germany on the eve of Hitler’s take-over.

A country ravaged by economic downturns, violence and low self-esteem, and looking for ‘enemies’ (Jews, communists, gypsies, blacks) to pin the blame on. This attitude became fascist Germany’s rallying cry for regeneration, but ended up in its own destruction.

We already have the army fighting a battle with armed fanatics. But what about a lot of those working in offices and studying in schools and colleges? These are ‘educated’ folks who may not be armed or look like the Taliban, but many have views close to what the fanatics advocate.

These are the people who would exhibit more disgust at the sight of a politician than they would at the sight of blown up bodies of innocent men, women and children; people who would scream vengeance at the plight of Dr Afia Siddiqui but look the other way when a woman is gang raped in their own Islamic republic; people who would bribe a cop to avoid a traffic violation ticket and yet find themselves above corruption.

Kamran Shafi is not just frustrated, he is downright angry. Writing in Dawn yesterday he asks some hard questions.

It is time that all of us Pakistanis stood up and loudly asked the establishment a raft of hard, even unpalatable to it, questions and demand answers. We must ask why it is that not a single suicide-jacket maker has been apprehended and prosecuted in all the years that these beasts have been going about their ghastly business. We must ask why not even one explosives supplier has been caught and brought before a court of law. We must ask why not one, just one, motivator has been exposed and locked up so that he may not spread his poison any more.

We must ask why not even one facilitator, people who move these mindless creatures with explosives strapped to their bodies from one place to another, has been arrested and put away. Or why even one suicide attack or car bombing has not been prevented by our much-praised ‘agencies’. We must ask why high-profile officers such as young Safwat Ghayyur were not provided such intelligence cover as would have uncovered the surely elaborate plan hatched by the terrorists to get this officer.

We must ask how it was that the man who apparently fit the profile of a suicide bomber almost perfectly: young, hanging about outside a sensitive agency (the Frontier Constabulary headquarters) waiting for his quarry; probably wild-eyed, entered Peshawar cantonment in the first place. I went to Peshawar a few weeks ago and it took my wife and I and our driver a full three minutes of questioning, checking of our ID cards, opening the hood and the dickey of the car, having a soldier peer into the car and so on, before we were let through just one barricade. There were three within the cantonment before we got to where we were going and the procedure was repeated at each one, albeit in abbreviated fashion. So how did that misguided, mindless youth stroll into the secure area to do his dreadful deed?

We must ask too, what is the very first duty of any agency of any state. Surely it is the protection of its own people first and foremost, and as the end result of that the protection of the country as a whole. We must ask if our much-talked-about agencies are succeeding in these primary duties. We must ask if the attacks that have robbed so many of our people of their very lives are the direct result of a massive and ongoing intelligence failure. The frank answer is that the ‘agencies’ have failed and are failing all ends up in doing their primary duty: witness the audacious attacks by terrorists at any target of their choosing anywhere in the country, including that holy of holies, the GHQ. Including, indeed, on installations, and the transport, of the ISI itself.

We’ve got to stop falling for the circus and pay attention to what is really going on here. Shoe throwing achieves nothing. It’s a circus act. Now TTP has the cheek to suggest that Pakistan refuse foreign aid? That’s just insane.

How much longer will we have to suffer because the media and middle class are so distracted by circus acts? Everyone wants to find some bogey man to blame, when the real culprits are not only staring us in the face, they are walking into our mosques and markets and blowing themselves and everyone else to pieces. We can spend how many months and milions chasing the degrees of MNAs only to discover that at least 90 percent are perfectly fine, but we can’t find the time or the energy to discover who is making suicide vests?

It’s up to us to stop this madness. I’ve had enough. Have you?


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