Tuesday April 23, 2024

A confused government

Pakistanis are deeply disturbed and confused after three major sectarian terror attacks in Quetta, L

By Ahmed Quraishi
March 07, 2013
Pakistanis are deeply disturbed and confused after three major sectarian terror attacks in Quetta, Lahore and Karachi. But no one is more confused than this incompetent government, which is adding to the confusion and the rumour mill by its inability to assume leadership in calming panicked citizens.
The government should have proved its leadership which was necessary to stop anyone from exploiting the tragedy to divide Pakistanis along sectarian lines. But thanks to total confusion and lack of any credible faces in this coalition government, Pakistanis are forced to follow the rumour mill where anti-state elements spread lies to demoralise the people, forcing them to doubt the state and the country, and pushing citizens to seek guidance and direction from extremist religious groups and divisive politicians.
And this is exactly what is happening. The Pakistani Shia, patriots as the rest of Pakistan, are forced to cede leadership of their community to divisive religious elements. As the state and the government disappears, others step up to take its place and offer a new narrative that harms the country.
Tragedy is a moment to unite the nation. A large number of Pakistani Sunnis were killed with their Shia brothers in Quetta and Karachi. More than 50,000 Pakistanis from all backgrounds have been killed since 2007.
The rush of all Pakistanis to donate blood and console the families of the martyrs of the attacks in Quetta and Karachi were things that any government would use and highlight to bring Pakistanis together after a tragedy. But this didn’t happen.
Ironically, instead of taking responsibility, Pakistan’s largest political parties are busy promoting the theory that one province is involved in promoting terrorism against other Pakistanis. What irresponsible government pushes its people to further chaos and violence during uncertain times?
The latest terror wave was a good time for our government and also the military to speak up about the new nexus of terrorism and proxy warfare against Pakistan. Three terror groups – the LeJ, BLA and TTP – merged to cooperate in using Afghan terror bases to attack Pakistan.
The TTP kills Pakistanis on religious basis; the BLA on linguistic grounds; and the LeJ on sectarian. The pretexts are different but the goal is to kill Pakistani civilians by the dozen from the same bases in US-controlled Afghanistan.
The government and the military should have highlighted the steady growth of anti-Pakistan terror camps in Afghanistan and the failure of the United States and its allied Afghan government to uproot them. The statements of US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel on India’s role in acts of terrorism inside Pakistan is the latest in a growing stack of evidence. But for some strange reason, the Pakistani leadership continues to ignore the role of Afghan bases in destabilising the country.
Our regional enemies have supported two terrorist groups in Pakistan after 2002. These gorups failed, in eight years, to ignite a nationwide civil war. The latest sectarian attacks represent an effort at diversifying the indirect war against Pakistanis.
The TTP inflicted a lot of damage but failed in starting an Algeria-style civil war, pitching Pakistani religionists and modernists. The BLA tried to push Pakistani Baloch to rebel against the state en masse but the majority refrained.
The strategy then shifted to assassinating those who speak Urdu, Punjabi, and Sindhi. The sponsors of this terror hoped to ignite retaliation against the Baloch living in Punjab, Sindh and Karachi. But nothing happened. Pakistanis are not as divided as some of our divisive politicians and external ill-wishers make them out to be.
The attacks on Pakistan’s Hazara community represent a shift. This community has given Pakistan heroes in sports and in military. They are targeted not just because they are Shia but also because they have proved to be loyal Pakistanis.
Balochistan is a target and will remain so. We are giving Gwadar to China, signing a gas deal with Iran, and face American, Afghan and Indian allegations that the Afghan Taliban leadership lives in Quetta. Terror groups have almost merged.
The original LeJ in interior Punjab has been reduced to a noisemaker more focused on spreading hate speech and claiming responsibility for anti-Shia attacks. The real terror wing of the LeJ is no longer primarily based in interior Punjab. It exists now in areas of Pakistan closer to the Afghan border.