A public holiday has been announced and all schools will be closed in Peshawar to observe second anniversary of APS attack. There are some who say that the better observation would be for all children to attend school, which would be a greater defiance of the terrorist threat, but the most important is that we take the time to think about how to prevent another massacre from taking place. The only way to do this is to directly take on extremism completely and without any exceptions.
Operation Zarb-e-Azb has made important progress in reducing the ability of anti-state militants to carry out attacks, but it has not come near the claimed success of ‘breaking the back’ of militants. They may be less common, but major terrorist attacks continue, including those targeting students such as the attack on Bacha Khan University and the deadly attack on Balochistan police college in Quetta earlier this year.
However it is not only these attacks that show the threat of terrorism continues. ASWJ backed candidate Maulana Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi, son of Sipah-e-Sahaba founder Haq Nawaz Jhangnvi, was elected to Punjab Assembly just a few weeks ago. Only a few days ago, a mob of thousands attacked an Ahmadi masjid in Lahore. Today, while we are memorialising those innocent students who were killed by extremist militants, there religious extremists are literally marching through the streets of Lahore.
Today we remember the lives of those innocent children martyred by extremist militants, but have we forgotten the promise of zero-tolerance for extremism and tackling militant groups without exception?
“The bus was stopped and the women were shot because of their ethnicity,” said provincial government’s spokesman Anwarul Haq Kakar.
The entire nation has come united behind the Kashmiri cause. It is the one cause that can even bring together opposing political parties. And it is easy to understand why. How can one watch the brutal treatment of Kashmiri people by Indian forces and not feel some sympathy and anger? It is the same pain we feel when we see how our brothers and sisters in Palestine suffer. This is not an post criticising support for the Kashmiri people. But it is asking why we can’t find the same sympathy for others closer to us?
Yesterday, four Shia women were murdered by sectarian militants in Quetta. They were singled out and killed because of their sect. This incident has received some reporting, but nothing like the attention paid to Kashmir. Before you say, “but this is just four women and Kashmiris are being killed and injured by hundreds” let me remind you that yesterday’s attack was only the latest anti-Shia attack in a long line of such killings. A few months ago, Jinnah Institute released a report noting that Pakistan has become a nightmare for Shia who are being slaughtered by the thousands.
There has been an upsurge in attacks against Shia Muslims in Peshawar, Rawalpindi and southern Punjab…The Shia Muslims have been …. besieged for a very long time as violence has grown in some parts of Pakistan, particularly in Quetta, Karachi and north of the country…
Gen Raheel has strongly condemned the killing of Kashmiri youth, but he is silent on the killing of Shia women. Behind the Army chief’s silence, though, there is some talking.
Sipah-e-Sahaba/ Mansehra chief Rabnawaz Tahir with Brigadier Wajahat
Have we used all of our sympathy for innocents being killed in other places? Don’t our own fellow citizens deserve the same level of sympathy and anger while they are being slaughtered? Where are the angry condemnations? The speeches at the UN? Where is the Difa-e-Pakistan Council rally to defend our country’s Shia? Or is one’s value only a factor of their political usefulness in our eternal war against India?
Army’s anti-terrorism campaign has been a huge success. We know this because we are reminded of how successful the Army has been by their crack media team such as the series of Tweets from General Asim Bajwa declaring operation Zarb-e-Azb “a phenomenal success” further projected by media that has been recruited as just another wing of ISPR. Gen Bajwa’s Twitter profile proclaims that “Truth Prevails”, and as far as we know everything that the Army’s top PR manager says is the truth, and the successes and sacrifice of our brave soldiers should be appreciated. However, without denying the great successes of Gen Raheel and Zarb-e-Azb, if “Truth Prevails”, we must also face the limits of military power in finally ridding our country of the menace of terrorism.
In the past two posts, I have already looked at how the justice system allows cases to hang over the heads of politicians for decades without ever coming to any resolution while speedily dispatching cases against extremist elements (usually in the form of acquittal). I have also discussed the way that evidence is handled, namely that there can never be too little against politicians and never enough against militants. Today, I want to take a look at another piece of the puzzle which is the selective way that justice is meted in the first place.
NGOs have acquired a particularly bad reputation lately. In reality, NGOs serve an important role in society. First let us define what exactly an NGO is. NGO stands for ‘Non-Governmental Organisation‘:
A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political particpation through provision of information. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, environment or health.
Save the Children is an NGO, and so is Edhi Foundation. Catholic Relief Services is an NGO, and so is Islamic Relief. Each of these organisations provides important humanitarian services to people who are not receiving these services from their own government.
Unfortunately, the same government that makes NGOs necessary by failing to provide necessary services is now putting NGOs under suspicion. Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar has said that some NGOs are backed by America, Israel, and India and they were “doing something which was against Pakistan’s interest”. The Interior Minister did not however bother to tell anyone which NGOs were working against the country neither did he tell what exactly they were doing. This was left to the wild imagination.
If it is true that there are any NGOs that are doing something which is against Pakistan’s interest, we should have every right to stop them from operating. My question is why the Interior Ministry is making vague claims about unnamed NGOs backed by America, Israel, and India but at the same time completely ignores NGOs backed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that are openly doing something which is against Pakistan’s interest.