Monday, March 10, 2008

Aftermath of a proxy war

EVERY conscientious and concerned Pakistani would be alarmed at the recent increase in suicide bombings aimed at high government officials and personnel of law-enforcement agencies, wherein innocent civilians become unwilling victim.

This state of indiscriminate and wholesale brutality on the part of terrorists has made an ordinary citizen suspicious about the government’s will and ability to provide him security of person and property. In this regard, the government’s policies, specially those related to the so-called war on terror, have continuously been grilled by the intelligentsia.

Tuesday’s bomb blasts – which the authorities have hurriedly called a suicide attack — at the Pakistan Navy War College, Lahore; the successful suicide attack on the surgeon-general of the Pakistan Army; the carnage seen at the funeral of a deputy superintendent of police, who himself was a victim of one such attack; the gruesome butchery of the policemen deployed to ‘guard’ the lawyers’ rally in Lahore; and several other gory incidents of the similar nature testify to the fact that the so-called war on terror being fought by Pakistan has become increasingly unpopular, especially in the Frontier region, which ‘hosts’ this war, and from where most of these suicide bombers purportedly hail.

The government may be hinting at the involvement of a foreign hand with particular reference to India, but all evidence, empirical as well as nominal, support the theory that the terrorism being faced by Pakistan is home-grown. Besides rampant poverty and illiteracy, it’s the desperation after a dear one is brutally killed by a ‘brother’ soldier that forces these suicide bombers to indiscriminately blow up the fellow citizens.

Had President Musharraf declined to join this war, Pakistan would not have been facing such macabre consequences which threaten to tear its very fabric apart. In any case, the threat to “bomb Pakistan to the Stone Age”, which was only meant to bring Pakistan into compliance, would definitely not have materialised, given, inter alia, the nuclear deterrence we possess.

However, what the Americans would have found difficult to achieve, the unabated suicidal bombings and the resulting lawlessness, which are direct the consequence of the war we are fighting for the Americans, would definitely be able to accomplish. That is to say that if necessary measures are not taken forthwith to curtail these terrorist acts, Pakistan would definitely be going towards bombing itself to the ‘Stone Age’. The government, therefore, should reconsider its role in the ‘war on terror’, in which Pakistan’s services have not even been acknowledged as day in and day out our ‘allies’ in the West repeat the mantra of ‘to do more’. The only solution to the current crisis is pulling the Army out of the estranged Frontier regions, without which the so-far unsuccessful political dialogue is not possible.

I do not buy the idea of trying both the stick and the carrot at the same time; to try the carrots one must put the stick in the cupboard.

In this ‘fight’ between the terrorists and the government, an ordinary citizen of Pakistan is the victim. Like the political uncertainty surrounding the country for the last one or so year, this continuing sense of insecurity along with the lack of availability of basic amenities of life brought the patience of the masses to the brim, as they gave their verdict in the general election against the Musharraf regime.

Now the ball is in the court of the new government, which should better take cognizance of the aspiration of the ordinary citizens or else be prepared to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

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