Dastardly assassination attempt

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THE country narrowly escaped another tragedy as PTI chief and former Prime Minister Imran Khan survived an assassination attempt on Thursday sparking condemnation of the dastardly attack not just by almost all segments of the Pakistani society but also from the world leaders.

Imran Khan was leading the long march to Islamabad at Wazirabad district when a gunman fired on him and several other party leaders.

According to party leaders, Imran was hit in the leg but his condition was stable while Senator Faisal Javed, former Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Ahmed Chattha and Umar Dar received bullets.

The incident is an addition of yet another dark chapter in the chequered history of the country reflecting extreme tendencies and intolerance in politics.

Claims being made by the PTI leadership notwithstanding, the fact remains no one can say for sure whether it was an individual act as the accused himself confessed in a statement (as per video that was leaked apparently by the police station) or a conspiracy to eliminate a popular leader and thereby push the country into another vicious cycle of instability and violence.

However, irrespective of whoever is behind the dastardly attack, the universal condemnation of the incident is a clear message that people of Pakistan would not tolerate such tactics.

You may like or dislike a political leader and might have serious political differences, which is a democratic right, but these offer no excuse to take the law into one’s own hands or settle scores through violent means.

Luckily, the accused was promptly grabbed by the Punjab Police and taken to an unknown destination and hopefully things would become clear once a credible and transparent inquiry is conducted.

The attack also highlights the fact that we have not learnt lesson from past tragedies as Benazir Bhutto was first became target of conspirators in Karachi and then became a victim of terrorism at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi.

As BB was being assassinated, there was also firing on the caravan of PML(N) leader Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif while both former President Pervez Musharraf and former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz also came under terrorist attacks and survived.

In this backdrop, it was the responsibility of the Government and security agencies to ensure foolproof security of the national leadership and it is also the responsibility of these leaders to cooperate in this regard.

The ease with which the attacker reached the container and hit the PTI leaders raises questions about the nature and level of security arrangements made by the Punjab Government.

Chief Minister Ch Pervez Elahi is on record having stated on several occasions that elaborate security cover would be provided to the participants of the march during its journey through the provincial territories but unfortunately the Government could not do so even in the case of core leadership.

Strangely enough, according to some media reports, there was no security within the hundred meters of the container of the PTI leadership.

Similarly, it would also be premature to apportion blame of the attack on anyone pending completion of the inquiry.

PTI leadership has blamed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and an agency officer but understandably it is a political statement motivated by political considerations and expediency and not solid proof or evidence.

The incident took place in a province where PTI has its own Government and full control over provincial police and agencies.

There are reasons to believe that a tragic incident is being politicized for petty self-centred interests, ignoring the gravity of the attempt.

While the PTI leadership is demanding the Prime Minister, Interior Minister and an officer of the agency to resign, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has called upon the Punjab Government to resign for its failure to ensure security for the participants of the long march, particularly after release of the video of the accused.

The Chief Minister has ordered suspension of the entire staff of the concerned police station but this is not enough and thorough review of the entire security arrangements should be carried out.

The Interior Minister also commended PTI workers and police for nabbing the accused red-handed, otherwise, some people might have had more opportunities to politicise this issue.

It may also be pointed out that the entire leadership of the coalition government has not only out rightly condemned the incident but also suggested to the Punjab Government to constitute a JIT comprising senior officers to investigate the attack on Imran Khan’s container in a fair, free and credible manner.

This is justifiable as the top leadership of the Government has been accused of their involvement in the attack and any partisan or lopsided inquiry would not be considered credible.

If the attack is a serious crime, allegations against the top leadership and that too without waiting for the beginning of the probe is also unfortunate and reflects the extreme polarization in the society.

The provincial government should immediately accept the offer of assistance made by the federal government to make the investigations credible.

The possibility of involvement of any third party or a foreign power in the attack cannot be ruled out as our enemies want to create instability and chaos in the country to scuttle its march on the road to progress and prosperity.

There is, therefore, need to involve most competent professionals to inquire into the incident and the findings should be made public.

At the same time, there is dire need to take steps to bring down the political tension and initiate the process of dialogue to sort out differences.

It is also time for the PTI leadership to review its strategy of the long march in view of the apprehensions being expressed that this could lead to bloodshed and dead bodies.

Instead of making statements (like taking revenge) that amount to inciting workers to violence appeals should be made to them to remain calm and quiet and wait for the outcome of the investigation.

The incident has already brought bad name to the country in the comity of nations as leaders across the globe urged all sides to remain peaceful and that there was no room for violence in democracy.

We also claim to be democrats but want the democratic and fundamental rights just for ourselves and not for our political rivals.

 

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