If you blame Bilawal solely for the famine in Thar, then blame Imran for the suicide attacks in KP!

Published: March 19, 2014

We are blaming a provincial government for being murderers and yet somehow , do not feel even a fraction of revulsion when countless others are killed due to terrorism all across Pakistan.

Ever since the Thar crises, I have seen a flurry of newspaper articles condemning Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and in fact, likening it to a party of Pharoahs. Many PPP haters have actually taken a sinister delight in the tragedy and have used it to find justifications for their hatred of PPP and also to further whip the public sentiments.

I am not a Jiyala and hence it is not my job to come up with an apologetic defence for PPP. Any famine is partly an administrative failure and hence the incumbent government should face the heat. However, at the same time, one wonders over the rather disproportionate amount of tirades directed towards one party considering the fact that government negligence is never solely responsible for famine. Yes, it is a factor but it has to be taken together with a host of other factors, many of which are natural and economic.

Right now, Bilawal Bhutto and PPP are being called murderers by a large chunk of our middle class and yet at a national level, many from the urban middle class are criminally silent when suicide blasts occur targeting the general population indiscriminately. Those who are killing are being labelled as somewhat ‘victims’ who, in retaliation to US’s war on terror, have gone astray.

I am not saying that PPP should not be criticised but I am appalled in the difference in the magnitude of reactions. We are blaming a provincial government for being some kind of murderers and yet somehow or the other, do not feel even a fraction of revulsion when countless others are killed due to terrorism all across Pakistan. We do not hate those who are killing and openly taking responsibility but are ready to mock and ridicule a political party and its young leader for something which they may be partially responsible for.

But then our urban middle class is largely like that. Many hailing from it feel revulsion against Bilawal and yet come up with all kinds of apologetic defences for monsters like the Taliban. They support Imran Khan, a reactionary politician who is actually supportive of extremists (a fact highlighted by his constant apologetic defence and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) decision to actually nominate him as a representative) and hate all the liberal parties who have been voicing opposition against extremists.

And let’s not forget that famine occurs partly due to natural factors and partly due to human errors unlike terrorism, which is purely a man-made phenomenon having definite aims.

Let me say it clearly if you still do not comprehend – if PPP is being held entirely responsible for what happened in Thar then Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) is greatly, and even more so, responsible for every death occurring there, particularly given the fact that Imran has actually been calling for ‘negotiations’ with the Taliban.

Even today, despite the so called negotiations, a string of blasts ripped through Peshawar and Quetta, killing scores of innocent Pakistanis and yet, where is the rage?

Why is the federal government, K-P government and our security establishment not facing the pressure to finish this menace?

Every time a blast occurs, our interior minister comes up with an apologetic defence reiterating the need for negotiations and provides a hint of supposed progress.

So many incidences have occurred during and after these negotiations and yet deaths continue to pile up. Our energies and the direction of discourse is more on proving how the Sindh festival ended up actually causing Thar deaths rather than actually forcing the government to re-establish its writ and ensure safety of our citizens.

At the moment, Bilawal is under fire for his and his party’s incompetency and yet the government of K-P does not get even a fraction of criticism for the deteriorating law and order situation despite the fact that it is openly appeasing the perpetuators of terrorist attacks. If a provincial government is openly in cahoots with an outlaw organisation and yet failing to stop terrorist attacks, then frankly, it should be held accountable with greater severity. But rather than apportioning blames appropriately, we are putting the entire blame on one provincial government while apologetically defending the other.

As a nation, we have completely misplaced priorities, likes and dislikes. And because of these misplaced priorities and sentiments, we have ended up becoming our own worst enemy. The government, due to our current mind set, never feels the pressure to do something and is content on adopting an accommodative approach to militants.


Raza Habib Raja

The author is a recent Cornell graduate and currently pursuing his PhD in political science at Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He has also worked for a leading development finance institution in Pakistan. He is a freelance journalist whose works have been published at Huffington Post, Dawn (Pakistan), Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Pak Tea House. He tweets @razaraja (twitter.com/razaraja?lang=en)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.