S. M. Hali
Terror attacks have wreaked havoc in Pakistan. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal update, the number of deaths in Pakistan owing to terrorist violence till May 10, 2015 is 57, 532. This does not tell the whole story as the number of disabilities due injury and the fatality of sole bread winners in Pakistan’s already impoverished society has caused traumatic impacts. Successive governments have struggled to check the terror attacks in Pakistan but the task is more demanding than the labours of the fabled Heracles.
Under the trying circumstances, the efforts of the government, the law enforcing agencies and the armed forces must not only be lauded but supported. The terrorists who have been striking with impunity in every corner of Pakistan are faceless beings who dwell amidst us, waiting for an opportune moment to inflict terror. Post event analysis of every major terror attack indicates the terror mongers to have taken up residence amongst the populace, reconnoitering, plotting and planning the assault resulting in tremendous loss of life and property. If the common citizens raise the level of vigilance and point out the abettors and facilitators of the harbingers of doom and gloom, perhaps many precious lives can be saved by nipping the intended terror attacks in the bud.
The task of law enforcing agencies and intelligence institutions becomes encumbered by also apprehending those who assist and support the terrorists, raising to the fore the issue of “missing persons”, which has brought ignominy to the authorities. No unconstitutional measure is ever justifiable but desperate times call for desperate measures which should be executed within the legal ambit. Lessons must be learnt from the US, which introduced draconian laws like the Patriot Act, the formulation of Homeland Security among others. Such acts have been censured but resultantly, after 9/11 no major attack has taken place in the USA.
In this milieu, some learned friends have taken up the cudgel for the right of free speech as well as the down trodden Baloch. It is appreciable that the intelligentsia is taking interest in the malaise of terrorism but some erudite scholars are ignoring the disease itself and trying to treat the symptoms alone. The case of the missing persons as well as the plight of the Baloch is but parts of the whole trauma being inflicted upon Pakistan. True that the government cannot be absolved from its responsibility towards the gross negligence of the Baloch nation but the whole Baloch conundrum must be perceived in the larger perspective.
A case in point is the Op-Ed titled ‘Burying freedom of expression’ carried in renowned English daily on May 14, 2015. The erudite author has made cogent observations with reference to history but this scribe begs to differ on two accounts. Firstly, LUMS and Karachi University declining permission to organizers for holding seminars on sensitive issues and the gruesome murder of Sabeen Mahmud who was murdered right after hosting a panel discussion on Balochistan’s plight at her Karachi café on April 24, 2015, should not be construed that the intelligence agencies were responsible for the deeds. Secondly, the author’s stipulation that the Foreign Office promise of sharing proof of RAW’s subversive activities in Pakistan with India be fulfilled.
In response to the first observation, it must be understood that the Baloch have a genuine demand but their concerns are not falling on deaf ears. Pakistan Armed Forces and the Government have bent backward to launch development projects, recruit Baloch youth into the Armed Forces and bureaucracy and uplift the downtrodden province. China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the bulk of whose projects lie in Balochistan is likely to bring a paradigm shift in the quality of life of ordinary Balochis for the better. Many Baloch youth have been misled and recruited by enemies of the state to conduct out operations against their own province. There are always two sides of an argument. If the government of Pakistan is providing opportunities to the misled youth to lay down their arms and join the mainstream, perhaps their grievances can also be resolved amicably.
The learned author himself admits that the organizers of the seminar at Karachi, when refused permission by Karachi University, surreptitiously held it outside the auditorium. Hardliner objectors like Mama Qadeer spewed venom against the state of Pakistan and the armed forces. If this is the kind of free speech the author believes in then his own credibility as a bona fide Pakistanis questionable.
As far as free speech is concerned, it should be understood that Pakistan is passing through very demanding times and the very survival of the nation is at stake. If a responsible organization like the Foreign Office, which does not utter a single word contrary to diplomatic nuances, claims that Indian Spy Agency RAW is behind the trouble in Pakistan, it should neither be doubted nor challenged. It is now amply clear that RAW is behind the terror attacks in Pakistan for a number of reasons. Firstly, Modi government, a sworn enemy of Muslims, is bent upon destabilizing Pakistan. Secondly, with the advent of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, RAW has established a special desk to oversee the disruption of this project, which will emerge as a game changer for Pakistan. Thirdly, the ignominy of defeat at Kargil continues to haunt the chauvinistic Hindu mentality and India will never sit idle until it has avenged itself.
Under the circumstances, when RAW finds likeminded people in the Pakistani media as well as the intelligentsia to bash Pakistan Army, the ISI and other law enforcing agencies for imaginary crimes, then it makes the task of RAW much easier.
We need to be patient and let the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Interior and Law Enforcing Agencies conduct their operations as they are all collectively fighting the “Battle for Pakistan”. If they fail, what to talk of freedom of speech, we will lose our very independence and become subjugated to those who use our own brethren against us.
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