The looming despondency

The sudden surge of terrorist attacks from Khyber to Karachi has sent a wave of shock all over the country and an unknown fear has possessed the nation about its future. Violence, riots and terrorism have become a part of Pakistan's landscape in the recent past. Some of these acts of carnage are rooted in sectarian conflicts. Another source of "terror" in Pakistan is the political strife and rallies that very often revolve around the ethnic biases. The ongoing killings in Karachi is an example of this form of conflict. The more worrying and disturbing is the fact that none of these perpetrators has ever been traced or identified. Cicero says that crime prospers when certain influential Mafioso provide impunity to criminal gangs or groups. Has any government in the past and present have ever dared to unveil these behind the scene controlling mafias? Its not that the state machinery cannot do it; it is the expediency that doesn't let it perform its stately responsibilities. How strange and ironic it is, while we take pride in being one of the most powerful Muslim country in the world with nuclear arsenal, yet we are a country paralysed by internal strife and utter lawlessness. Instead of setting our house in order we play the blame game. Very often we reproach the law and order agencies, the opposition or the fanatics fuelled by religious bigotry. Seldom do we address the most fundamental questions: from where do these terrorists, protestors and politico-religious activists come and from where they get the weaponry? Why these terrorists are so committed to their mission and accomplish it with such ease in the presence of so many security agencies? Optimism that the February 18 elections would usher in a new democratic spring of peace and reconciliation in Pakistan has been replaced by despondency, with many believing the situation was worse now than previously. It is not our army or para-military forces that are being accused of the killing of civilians, in the tribal areas, but the US-led NATO predators who are devouring the local populace with their missiles and bombs, and impotency of Islamabad for failure to protect its own citizens. The killing of civilians can assure one thing for the US and NATO forces; more radicalisation against the Pakistani forces who are trying to bring peace in our tribal belt as they had been living - in peace - before the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The really cause of alienation of the local people, who look at the Taliban as their redeemers, is because the federal government failed to protect them against NATO onslaughts. The powerbrokers in Islamabad are too preoccupied with internal squabbles to notice what is going on, and in this state of despondency the Taliban look like the good guys. People are captivated by a hollow statecraft of political theatre as they are being ruthlessly striped of their fundamental rights. It is smoke and mirrors, tricks and con-games that they are watching in utter dismay like the strawberry women, who laid two or three big strawberries at the mouth of the pot, while all the rest were little ones. It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws," says Tacitus. The more checks and prohibitions there are, the more reactionary the people will be. The more laws are promulgated to check violence, the more violent the people would be. It is a convenient form of political catharsis to relieve the constitutional framework from the strain of military exigencies. Dictatorship is imposed upon the masses in which major interest groups invariably survive and do everything wrong to constitutionalise their rule through a captive house or a judicial system that grows out of the PCO. It is an uphill task to win over a totally hostile population in an uncompromising war. All the predators, bombs, missiles and tanks would not possibly subjugate the Pathans who had a very long history of fighting long-drawn wars. The British in India had the experience of three bloody wars that spread over 90 years and had ultimately bowed out with tremendous losses. The same catastrophe awaits the US and NATO forces. The Taliban who see a lame-duck president in the White House, NATO countries not in a position to sustain a long-drawn war in Afghanistan and adjoining tribal areas are determined to fight and fight for years to drive the occupation forces from their areas. A weak and divided coalition government in Pakistan is not in a position to meet the terrorism challenge squarely, which no more is a single conflict anymore. It has become a regional war that is taking Pakistan, Central Asia and Iran under its sway. What is needed now is a regional diplomatic approach to resolve the real issue that is threatening world peace. As for Washington, it has only one yardstick by which it tests every major global problem; and that yardstick is: Is it good for America? The writer is a retired inspector general of Police

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