M Ziauddin

Monday, May 18, 2015 – THE Safoora Goth terror attack in which 45 Ismailies were ruthlessly killed on May 15 in Karachi was carried out clearly for its widespread impact both as a highly successful act of terror exposing the state’s inability to protect its citizens and also as a media event of international importance. The masterminds of the attack seemed to have done a detailed reconnaissance of the location, of the route of the bus in question and the state of security of the area for months noting the timings of scheduled shuttle and its variation to the last second. The same kind of planning seems to have also done into the attack on Wagha border on November 2, 2014, Peshawar’s Army Public School on December 15, the same year as also the one on the Imambargah in Shikarpur on January 31 and the attack on the churches in Lahore on March 15. The victims in three of the five of these attacks have been religious minorities—Christians, Shiites and Ismailies. And the remaining two attacks were on the state itself. The message being sent by the perpetrators is: There is no place for non-Sunni minorities in Pakistan and that the perpetrators are stronger than the state itself, so surrender to their demands before more such events occur. It is next to impossible to pre-empt all such attacks. Even a country like the US where the intelligence machine, according to Edward Snowden, had become Orwell’s Big brother could not pre-empt the so-called Boston bombing of April 15, 2013. And it is safe to assume that many more than five would have occurred in the last seven months had not our intelligence agencies aborted most of them. That is perhaps why COAS General Raheel Sharif found it appropriate to remark during his visit to the ISI headquarters on Friday last that most of the spy outfits ‘phenomenal—achievements and successes’ often went unnoticed. He made this remark after having been briefed on intelligence based operations led by the ISI that helped pre-empt some unspecified terrorist plots. Still the Chief felt that these agencies needed to be better equipped technologically.

Who are these perpetrators who are out to take over the Quaid’s Pakistan? Of course, we cannot rule out RAW. We have given the Indians many reasons to retaliate since we mounted our own retaliation in reaction to what they did to us during the Bangladesh civil war. In the 1980s they kept accusing us of supporting the Sikh movement. Then in the 1990s they went international blaming us for the bloodshed in the Indian held Kashmir and we ourselves provided the proof to the effect by mounting the Kargil misadventure. And the Mumbai massacre of 2008 continues to burn into their hearts and minds. But one can also reach a different answer still without, of course, ruling out RAW. We see United Arab Emirates becoming the hub of commercial activity in the region at about the time when Pakistan fell into the hands of General Ziaul Haq around late 1970s. We have lost even cricket to the Emirates since the attack on the touring Sri Lankan team in Lahore on March 3, 2009. Today the UAE has a formidable world class cricket team when we have lost even to Bangladesh.

But then perhaps our enemy is in our own mind-set—a mind-set that General Ziaul Haq so diligently tried to etch into our brains. First, he changed the order of the three-point national agenda of the Quaid: from ‘Unity, Faith, and Discipline’ to ‘Faith, Unity and Discipline’. And then he changed the meaning of ‘Faith’ from Absolute self-Confidence (Yakeen-i-Muhkam) to its religious connotation. Next, in order to obliterate from our minds Quaid’s manifesto that he had outlined in his September 11 speech to the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan he made the Objective Resolution as the firm basis of the 1973 Constitution. He was helped generously in his efforts by the Americans to completely root out Quaid-i-Azam from Pakistan and replace him with Zia’s own version of Islam. The Americans needed Muslim Youth to fight the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan. So, they invented their own version of Jihad and both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan sold it to the Muslim World through the madrassahs that mushroomed in Pakistan financed by the US and Saudis. Both the concept of Jihad and the institution of Madrassahs were held in very high esteem among practicing Muslims all though since the advent of Islam to this day because the concept propagated Islam world- wide and the Madrassahs produced between 6th and 14th centuries a number of astronomers and astrophysicists, biologists, neuroscientists, and psychologists, chemists and alchemists, economists and social scientists, geographers and earth scientists, mathematicians, physicians and surgeons, physicists and engineers, political scientists and, other scientists and inventors. This is what is called the glorious period of Islam. It is the work of these Muslim scholars graduating from these Madrassahs that had actually inspired the modern day scientific and technological developments. However, instead of making the Afghan Jihad related Madrassahs into a reincarnation of the original institutions they were instead turned into camps for training warriors of Zia’s version of Islam. And it is the graduates of these Madrassahs which are produced in thousands every year in Pakistan who do the only thing that they have been taught—kill in the name of their version of Islam.

One hopes that the decisions taken in the last Apex meeting held under the chairmanship of the COAS would be implemented in the right earnest to meet the challenge of these perpetrators: 1. Enhanced surveillance of Karachi’s suburban areas; 2. Action to be taken against all criminals and their abettors regardless of their political, religious, ethnic, sectarian or any other affiliations; 3. Apex committee meetings to be held every week to discuss the targeted operation; 4. Intelligence agencies told to work together to exploit existing leads; 5. A surveillance system to be developed for strict checking at all entry and exit points of Karachi; 6. An intelligence sub-committee to be formed for strong coordination between the government and military officials; 7. The meeting agreed on the need to extend the law enforcers’ writ to Karachi’s weakly governed areas; 8. Checking all financial sources of criminals; 9. Transparency to be ensured in the transfers and postings of officials and merit-based appointment be made in various departments with oversight mechanism to help the system for long-term sustainability and; 10. General Raheel Sharif assured the chief minister that he would provide all the equipment to Sindh police within a month if the provincial government could send him a detailed list.

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