The Enemy Within
By Humayun Gauhar
The prime duty of a government is to protect the State, its citizens and their properties. This is the most important fundamental principle of governance. When a government fails to discharge its prime duty it loses the justification to exist.
Our government has failed utterly in discharging this prime duty on many fronts. Last week’s terrorist attack on Karachi Airport and a pilgrims’ bus in Balochistan are recent proof. Its National Security Policy lies in tatters. There is absolute absence of rationality and common sense and the presence of wonky priorities.
The excuse that it is protecting what it calls democracy is poppycock. They are protecting a mirage conjured up by a hypocritical constitution that works for the rich at the expense of the poor and is unable to dispense real pro-people, truly representative democracy or justice justly, in time and cheaply. What they are really doing is supporting a system that works for them but not for the people. This is disloyalty most foul.
Result: Pakistan is being slaughtered at the alter of fake democracy. Its continuity is based on the dynastic principle where the oppressed are regularly forced ‘elect’ their oppressors to oppress them further. We need real democracy, not its pantomime. Continuing with this pantomime in the hope that it will become real is suicidal. This government or that doesn’t matter. It’s the system, and if it doesn’t collapse first Pakistan will. It’s as simple as that. Seen from this perspective we are going in the right direction – systemic failure.
The Karachi Airport attack by terrorists of the banned TTP-IMU (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) raises many questions. The ASF (Airport Security Force) soldiers did the job they are paid for admirably and held back terrorists till the Rangers and army (who else) arrived to take positions and kill them. But ASF and CAA bosses and the government need to be asked:
- Why didn’t the ASF provide equal surveillance and security to the airport’s entire perimeter, particularly its entry and weak points? Do the ASF bosses know the difference between a potato and a bomb that they call ‘bum’?
- Why did the Sindh government and the ASF ignore repeated warnings of a possible terrorist attack on the airport? Now the federal and Sindh governments are playing an unseemly blame game. They are both to blame.
- Why did it take around 20 hours to try and rescue seven workers trapped in a burning, part-collapsed cold store in the cargo area? The reason we are hearing is shameful: they wouldn’t allow fire tenders in because of ‘VIP movement’. If so, it betrays our governments’ priorities: the pomp and protocol of VIPs takes precedence over the lives of citizens, a massive failure of government’s prime responsibility. They should drown in shame but they don’t have any. The beseeching of waiting relatives getting desperate calls from the trapped workers didn’t affect them. Only the estimable efforts of Express TV anchor Shahziab Khanzada and the offer of property developer Malik Riaz to send his machinery catalyzed the authorities to start rescue operations, but too late. They didn’t even use fire-extinguishing foam, which all airport should have. This is certainly an issue over which our trigger happy Supreme Court should take suo moto notice.
- Why was the nearby habitation called Pehalwan Goth, (Wrestlers’ Village) from where the TTP terrorists entered not cleansed and watched assiduously? Its common sense. The official excuse that it is an old settlement infested by drug peddlers insults our intelligence and exposes their lack of common sense.
- Why were high-rise buildings allowed near the airport from where terrorists can fire missiles?
- It is alleged that the terrorists carried Indian arms and medicines. Even if India gave them the weapons to destabilize Pakistan further, how did they get all the way from our borders hundreds of miles from Karachi or get through Karachi’s port authorities? If they were bought from the underground global arms bazaar, how did they get to Karachi? Don’t we have check posts along the way?
- Why can’t they stop money flow to terrorists? To not upset their paymasters?
- Why didn’t they set up Chinese scanners along all routes that check people and goods? On the facetious grounds that they are bad for health? In truth, they were rejected because they ruined their ‘business’ of bribe taking of billions from smugglers that is divided all the way up. Parliament is worse then useless: the Supreme Court should again take suo moto notice.
- Narendra Modi’s main charge against Pakistan is fostering terrorism in India to which Nawaz Sharif’s reply was inadequate. Instead of accusing India of fostering terrorism in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif sends a poorly worded syrupy appeasing letter to Modi but forgets to present him a dhoti as a goodwill gesture as he did a sari to his mother. Appeasement of Pakistan’s enemies is Nawaz’s forte.
- Why hasn’t our foreign office protested with the Uzbek government?
- How did foreigners get into our country? Our border security processes are worthless.
- Why has no one been sacked yet or transferred to a post more suited to his talents?
The less said the better about our Civil Aviation Administration (CAA). It failed to rescue seven workers trapped in the cold storage and let them burn to death. Now CAA bosses will burn in hell. They gave higher priority to VIP movement. ‘Movement’ also means bowel evacuation. This is what our ‘VIPs’ are good at. The CAA must have been searching for Muslim showers instead of fire tenders. The responsibility for this callous manslaughter lies on the heads of CAA and ASF bosses, fake VIPs and their odious upstart ‘protocol’. ‘VIPs’ come to such scenes for photo ops and delay operations fatally. Their job was earlier, to prevent such things from happening. They failed miserably. What was the point of the Sindh chief minister and flunkies going there? Only to be seen to be ‘caring’ on TV? Hypocrites. Then came Asif Zardari’s adopted brother to divert attention and make a silly statement. Why send the interior minister to Karachi, and that too the day after, when he had already failed to provide security? He should have been sent packing instead. Stupid protocol is more important then the lives of citizens. This is beyond ignominy.
While Nawaz Sharif could go to Karachi to meet injured GEO TV anchor Hamid Mir, he couldn’t call on the grieving relatives of the Karachi Airport deceased. They hold no importance for this fake democrat born of the army’s womb while a TV anchor does because he belittles the army.
TTP with whom Nawaz Sharif would hold talks took responsibility for the attack, as did the IMU. The attack started at 11.10 pm on June 8 and went on till late the next afternoon, when flights were restarted. Hardly had three hours passed when terrorists attacked the ASF hostel in nearby Pehalwan Goth. Flights were closed again. ASF soldiers and Rangers sprung into action and chased the terrorists away, their bosses later testing our credulity by claiming that it wasn’t an attack, just firing. The gods wept. The TTP claimed responsibility for this too.
The job of the Rangers is to patrol and protect our borders against intruders. The army’s job is to protect Pakistan from enemies without and within. If the government also becomes an enemy within, God help it. It certainly is not the army’s job to protect or liberate airports or mosques where terrorists have created a state within a state. When it has to, it signifies government failure.
After months of the government’s much-vaunted Karachi operation to wipe out criminals we taste the bitter fruit of appeasement. In reality they are negotiating terms of surrender from a position of weakness and wasting precious time instead of eliminating terrorism countrywide. When you negotiate with a banned terrorist organization that doesn’t recognize the State and its constitution allowing more people to be killed and properties destroyed, you give them legitimacy, violate the constitution and commit High Treason under Article 6. You then imply that you actually agree with the terrorist’s creed. Giving legitimacy to terrorists by calling them stakeholders and talking to them is perfidy of the worst kind. Our confused politicians are party to this perfidy by agreeing to negotiate with terrorists in last year’s All Parties Conference. The blood of our people is on their hands.
Often governments have to choose between two evils. A wise government opts for the lesser evil; a bad one chooses the worse and takes his country down in flames, thinking that this is valour. Rulers need to be ruthlessly realistic, not mindless dreamers whose romanticism is based on false bravado. Their dreams soon turn into nightmares. If the Prophet (pbuh) had been hotheaded and unrealistic the Treaty of Hudaibiya would not have been signed and the Muslims wouldn’t have won. It is less bad to lose a few and protect the many than lose the many and everything with them. Half a cake is better than none. You are free to follow valorous dreams and go down fighting, but you are not free to foist them on your people whom you are sworn to protect, a responsibility they have given you in trust.
Finally the army is launching a mini operation, but only in North Waziristan and perhaps the rest of the tribal areas. Big deal. The terrorists have reached every nook, cranny and neighbourhood of the country, even the houses of the rich and powerful. The operation has to be countrywide if we are to be rid of terrorism once and for all. The government and military will have to be of like mind. If not, Nawaz Sharif may well find himself turfed out yet again. If there can be no terrorist attack in America after 9/11, why can’t there be in Pakistan?