It has been one week since terrorists boarded a bus and began carrying out cold blooded killings. Their victims, dozens of innocent Ismaili Muslims whose only fault was not subscribing to the same extremist interpretation of religion as their murderers. Despite obviously being the work of jihadi terrorists, almost immediately the attack was blamed on RAW. Our own intelligence agencies told media that they had obtained evidence of India being behind the attack, which was dutifully reported by unquestioning media. Political leaders, too, were taking in by this line with no less than CM Sindh who is working closely with the military on Karachi law and order operation announcing that he had been told intelligence agencies had “solid evidence” of India’s involvement in the attack. Now, however, the tune is changing. This is an embarrassment for media, political leaders, and most of all our own intelligence agencies. Worst of all, it is helping the very terrorists we are trying to defeat.
After being told non stop for one week that intelligence agencies had fool proof evidence that RAW was behind the Safoora attack, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar announced yesterday that it is “too early” to point any fingers at India or any other foreign agency. Police announced that they have arrested four suspects believed to be involved in the attack, none of whom have any known ties to RAW or any other foreign agency. Rather they are all Urdu-speakers tied to a jihadi terrorist group inspired by al Qaeda, and that the motivation was not the China Pakistan Economic Corridor but religious extremism.
This massive U-turn demands serious and immediate answers. Who were the intelligence sources that misled the media and political leaders about RAW being involved? What was the motivation behind this misinformation campaign? Will anyone be held accountable for misleading the nation and distracting from the real enemy which is jihadi extremists? What will be done to prevent this from happening ever again?
By publicly blaming RAW for all crimes, the state is not only distracting from the real problem which is the jihadi extremist groups but actually aiding in their terrorist activities. Terrorists are able to use these misinformation campaigns to their own benefit by playing on the people’s confusion and nationalist sentiments. “It can’t be us”, they will say. “We are Muslims and the government itself announced that the real terrorist is India.”
Whatever the intention, whether it is to unite the people behind their security forces or to pressurize India on other issues, the strategy is a grand failure. It is dividing, not uniting the country, and it is making us less, not more safe. Someone needs to answer for this failure.