Some government officials still continue to live in a state of denial. Take the Punjab law minister, for instance. He saw an “Indian hand” in the recent suicide bombing of Rescue 15 and the ISI headquarters in Lahore in which 30 people were killed and around 300 injured. Can’t a legal mind fathom that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan are being hit hard by the army operation in Swat and that they are retaliating in the manner they know best: suicide bombings?
This government, unfortunately, has got to be the most ineffectual in the country’s history. It is high on rhetoric and low on game plan. Simply announcing development packages and setting up peace committees and reconciliation commissions, without addressing the root cause of the festering problems, is not going to resolve the manifold problems of this country.
On April 2, Newsline received a very disturbing video clip – shot with a mobile phone – of a 17-year-old girl being flogged ruthlessly by the Taliban in Shah Dherai town in Swat. What was extremely traumatising was the fact that while the girl sobbed uncontrollably and begged to be spared the humiliation or be killed, a dozen or so men watching this “gory spectacle” did not raise a murmur of protest or lift a finger.
Maulana Sufi of the Tehreek-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Muhammadi, who has just thrashed out a peace deal with the ANP government, says he will be conferring with the Taliban to gauge their views on allowing girls to go back to school. So, will those who went around burning 200 girls’ schools depriving 80,000 students of schooling and 8,000 teachers of jobs, and beheaded an NGO worker for protesting against this barbarism, be presiding over the destiny of women?
Why has it taken the government this long to respond to the desperate calls of the beleaguered people of Swat? Schools were being blown up every day, as were video parlours and barber shops. Taliban opponents were being disfigured, beheaded, and their bodies displayed at public squares. Women were being ordered to stay behind the chadar and chardivari or face the consequences and children were deprived of polio vaccines.
As the clock struck twelve and fireworks, punctuated by the shots of gunfire, rent the air on December 31, it didn’t quite feel like the New Year’s Eve that one has looked forward to every year. Firepower and gun power have become so much a part of our lives now that any sound akin to it merely sends a chill down one’s spine. A grim reminder of what life in Pakistan has been reduced to by the self-appointed custodians of religion. Bombings, burnings, beheadings, kidnappings and constant intimidation – all in the name of religion.
The Pakistan government is reported to have ordered 10 bullet-proof BMWs, each costing approximately between US$ 80,000 to 90,00. Does this sound like the government of a country that is on the brink of default, and that is most likely to seek a five to six billion dollar IMF loan facility after being shown the door by ‘friends of Pakistan’?