Are We Witnessing the Birth of a Pakistani Intifada?

Lahore Christians Throwing Rocks at Security Forces

The scene is a familiar one. Enraged youths take to the streets in response to a brutal attack that leaves over a dozen in their community dead. They are throwing rocks at armed security forces sent to contain them. Media terms the attack as regrettable but reserves harsher condemnation for the protestors whose response they say cannot be justified. Only, this scene is not taking place in Gaza, it is taking place in Lahore.

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JuD, Lal Masjid Undermining What’s Left of Pakistani State

Jamaat-ud-Dawa

The Foreign Office gave a briefing that appeared to be cleverly designed to provide the illusion that the state was putting actions behind its words about ‘zero tolerance’ policy against militant groups. Media dutifully reported that govt had imposed a ‘ban’ on Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Haqqani Group, but journalist Salman Masood and many others were quick to note that the Foreign Office’s statement was actually hollow. Never mind, though, because Jamaat-ud-Dawa released its own statement almost immediately afterwards saying that the state’s threats were meaningless and they will continue to operate without interruption regardless of what the state says or does.

JuD’s statement has far-reaching implications for the ‘writ of state’. If the state is unwilling or unable to back up its words with actions against JuD, every other militant group will receive the clear message that Pakistan has become an effective ‘free zone’ for terrorists.

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Kashmir Jihad: Is Army Undermining Its Own Operations?

Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesperson Tasnim Aslam

The Foreign Office has issued a strong statement against Indian firing along the Line of Control terming it as “an attempt to distract our armed forces from its valiant mission against all terrorists”. There can be little doubt about the FO’s claim that increased tensions with India drain vital attention and resources from the fight against terrorists. In order to successfully carry out operations against terrorists, security forces must be able to devote maximum attention to the fight. This is why it is inexplicable why certain militant groups continue to be allowed to operate along the Line of Control.

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Salmaan Taseer memorial attack a bellwether for the nation?

Salmaan Taseer vigil

40 suspects are being held in connection with an attack against citizens who had gathered to remember slain Governor Salmaan Taseer on Sunday. An attack against a peaceful memorial should be shocking enough in itself, but there are certain details which make the event even more disheartening.

The first thing to note is that media reports that the attackers are all ‘belonging to a banned organisation’. This shows that despite lofty rhetoric about the nation finally being united against extremism and terrorism, the fact remains that banned organisations continue to operate with little disruption. Even though arrests have been made after public outcry over the incident, police were reportedly standing aside while the attack took place. It should also be noted that media has so far protected the name of the ‘banned organisation’.

More troubling, however, are the comparative numbers. According to reports, 40 militant extremists were arrested for attacking a gathering of ‘more than 35 activists of civil society’.

The number of extremists outnumbered the number of people at the vigil.

This can be attributed to a couple of factors, but neither of them bode well for the future of the country. It could be as simple as a sign that there are more extremists than tolerant moderates in the country. I am still unwilling to believe this, however. I think what is most likely is that most moderates recognize the risks inherent to standing up for their values.

Salmaan Taseer was murdered because he dared to take a stand for protecting a poor Christian woman who he believed was unjustly accused. Fatwas were issued calling for death of Sherry Rehman. Husain Haqqani received life threats from extremist groups.  Mohammad Shakil Auj, the 54-year-old dean of Islamic Studies at the prestigious University of Karachi, was declared ‘apostate’ and murdered for being too moderate in his religious views. Militants carried out operation to kill moderate columnist and TV anchor Raza Rumi. Though he survived with his life, his driver, Mustafa was not so lucky.

Army has stepped up attacks against militant groups that attack them, and those convicted of carrying out attacks against military targets are being executed. While the military looks after its own, the rest of us are left to look after ourselves.

I continue to hold onto the belief that a moderate, tolerant, ‘silent majority’ exists in this country, but I also believe that this majority does not have the security to stand up to the extremists. My fear is that this lack of security not only weakens our ability to stand up to extremists, it weakens our will to do so. If we do not do something to change this, the majority soon may not be in our favor and extremists may outnumber us not only in the streets, but in our homes, our schools, and our institutions.

If it hasn’t happened already.

Saving Our National Pride: We Must Remove Extremists From The Ranks

Pakistan Army

In 2011, terrorists attacked PNS Mehran with help from inside the military. In 2012, terrorists carried out a brazen operation that freed nearly 400 prisoners from Bannu jail. The militant commander who planned the attack said it was a success thanks to inside help. Later that same year, Brig Ali Khan and four other Army officers were convicted over links to extremist groups. And now, terrorists have attacked Karachi Naval Dockyard, again with inside help. These are only a few examples, but they are more than enough to point to a pattern, and more insidiously, a serious national security crisis.

Since long, Army spokesman and their surrogates have rejected concerns about extremist infiltration in the military as something that cannot happen due to the strict policies and procedures for identifying such risks. But there is no explanation for how the world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden was able to live and run his operation in the shadow of PMA Kakul. If it is not possible for terrorists and their sympathisers to infiltrate the military, how is it that the terrorists continue to carry out attacks with inside help?

Army is our national pride. When something is said that seems to cast that pride in a light, our natural response is to immediately reject it. This is natural, but it is not healthy, nor is it helpful. If a doctor discovers a cancer in someone we love, we do not call them liar and demand that such is impossible. Rather we come to accept the painful reality and do the needful which is to have the cancer removed so that the patient may be saved.

We love our Army. Let’s save it before it’s too late.

UPDATE: NAVY OFFICIALS ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH TERRORIST ATTACK

A security official, who requested anonymity, told Dawn.com that acting on intelligence reports, security forces conducted raids in the outskirts of Quetta and picked up three suspects.

“The suspects are Navy officials,” he added, giving no details about their ranks.

They were shifted to Karachi on a plane from Quetta for further interrogation.

The suspects were trying to escape to Afghanistan, when they were intercepted by security forces.