Under attack again: When will our government stop tolerating banned outfits?

Published: October 25, 2016
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A police truck is seen at a gate to the Police Training Center after an attack on the center in Quetta, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Another day, another tragedy in Quetta. The city has seen too many to be listed but the attack on Balochistan Police College that took at least 61 lives, is the third time in less than three months that terrorists have been successful.

On August 8th, Quetta’s legal community was wiped out in a devastating bomb blast. Two months later, on October 5th, four Hazara Shia women were dragged from a public bus and shot dead on the road. Today we mourn the police cadets that were killed. Calling them martyrs will not help. They are dead. Dead like many, many others before them.

The pattern is depressingly familiar. Shias, Sunnis, school children, women, law enforcement agencies, and military outfits have all been targeted. Schools, hospitals, religious sites, hotels, government buildings, shopping places, processions, military sites, airport and the list of targets go on

The state is under siege by terrorist groups and yet the phrase one hears from official channels is that Zarb-e-Azb has “broken the backs of terrorists”. The civilian government and army outdo each other in patting their backs and announcing the success of the on-going military operation. Congratulatory messages and attacks carry on almost in tandem. One has to question if the state is trying to convince the people or itself? The operation is successful we are told again and again. Successful? Tell that to the terrified people in Quetta. Tell that to those who have lost sons, mothers, brothers and fathers. Tell that to the orphaned children and widowed ladies.

The other thing we hear is the commitment to wipe out terrorists. After the APS Peshawar attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said,

“We announce that there will be no differentiation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban, and resolve to continue the war against terrorism till the last terrorist is eliminated.”

The on-going policy of appeasement would be abandoned and banned outfits would no longer be courted or tolerated. The 20-point National Action Plan stated that militant outfits, proscribed organisations and armed gangs will not be allowed to operate in the country. And yet a few days back the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar met with leaders of the banned Ahle Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ), JuD and some other religious parties having pro-Taliban views. ASWJ is widely considered an offshoot of banned Sipah-e-Sihaba Pakistan (SSP) and was proscribed on February 15, 2012. JuD has been facing international sanctions since December 10, 2008, under the UN Security Council resolution. By hosting banned outfits what message is the government giving to the public? Or to the terrorists?

The government needs to make its priorities clear. Calling people martyrs and creating a cult of martyrdom is dangerous and misleading. The APS children weren’t looking for martyrdom. Nor were the lawyers or police cadets. Giving token amounts of money to families will not assuage the pain of losing a loved one, no amount of money will. What will help is focus on the primary goal of the state: providing security to its citizens.

Sadly, this focus is lost in wrongfully assigning blame or worse, ignoring the significance of loss of lives. After the attack on lawyers, the state narrative was that it was “specially targeting CPEC”, referring to China’s $46 billion project to build an economic corridor through Pakistan. Can the powers that be not realise that citizens have been killed? That should have been the biggest loss and focal point.

Questions need to be asked. How can these people stand against the writ of the state? What does that speak about the success of the military operation? If law enforcement agencies aren’t safe then what about the less protected members of society? Will the government stop tolerating banned outfits? These questions need to be asked and by every citizen.

The state is failing to secure not just citizens, but those who are meant to protect the citizens. This isn’t the first attack on law enforcement personnel. In 2011, DIG Wazir Khan Nasir’s house was attacked in Quetta and he had to leave the country.

Instead of pointing fingers elsewhere the government should take a long hard look at its own. Patriotism and national solidarity does not mean that we avoid hard truths. We remain vulnerable and terrorists are still at large. Every time the state heralds its success on terrorist front there is a reminder of how far we are from that.

This much is evident and no amount of self-congratulatory statements changes that.

Sibtain Naqvi

Sibtain Naqvi

A writer and social commentator who has written extensively for various Pakistani English dailies. An art critic accredited by the AICA and the Royal College of Art, London, he dabbles in music and sports writing and tweets @Sibtain_N (twitter.com/Sibtain_N)

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

  • John Spamous

    The intelligence serices, army, and civilian government don’t see eye-to-eye on who is “bad” terrorist and who is a “good” freedom fighter. Support for militancy has to stop. You reap what you sow. People of Pakistan have to rise up and look out for themselves.Recommend

  • Rohan

    The govt will stop tolerating when the punjabi establishment drops the failed 2 nation theory and stops hate mongering to justify the events of 1947Recommend

  • RAJKUMAR N

    The Honesty is the first requirement of any development. Success will follow.
    As long as we blindly believe something and refuse to review and correct it we will do things in flawed and dubious way. The author tries to correct it im afraid most will fail to understand the truth in it’s logic. Recommend

  • choonki

    Sorry to gloat at your mis fortunes, but Pakistan entirely did this to itself. Your blatant support to terrorism has been biting you in the rear. I would bet money that this won’t change and will actually get worser.Recommend

  • Ajay

    what goes around comes around. Unfortunately the incident is, but Pakistanis have only themselves and their beloved military to be blamed for the monster they have created, which they thought will bleed India and make Kashmir part of Pakistan. What it did was, challenged India in a low intensity warfare, but then it made India grew from strength to strength.Recommend

  • Mr Obvious

    Nice article – doubt it will be very popular with the Establishment.Recommend

  • Animesh Naskar

    A country whose PM praises Burhan Wani as freedom fighter is beyond redemption.Recommend

  • AbdurRazzaqqq

    It’s so strange that this article and the comments all talk about the banned groups like LeJ and SSP, which are having their camps dealt with in the Punjab (where their hub is); but you all neglect to talk about the Indian RAW network. Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Looking at comments about this attack other places on ET, one notices how many people are automatically blaming RAW/India/Afghanistan/”foreign hand” etc etc for thus latest attack! I am sure that we will shortly see the usual political suspects jostling to be in front of any news camera/microphone reachable, frothing away blaming India for this attack.Recommend

  • Feroz

    There is no will, heart or intention to dismantle the terror infrastructure.
    For years the neighbors have been offering help if needed because a joint effort against terrorism can succeed, however they have been rebuffed. This refusal has made claims of being a victim of terrorism ring hollow. Democracy gives people the power to dictate policies that impact them, sadly citizens of Pakistan have failed to exercise the power they have productively. Recommend

  • sunil kumar

    Sibtain Naqvi you are a brave one. Have called spade a spade.
    May your tribe increase and God BlessRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    The civilian government and army outdo each other in patting their backs
    and announcing the success of the on-going military operation.
    Congratulatory messages and attacks carry on almost in tandem. One has
    to question if the state is trying to convince the people or itself?

    The awnser to your question is that both are simply blowing in the wind. You have a civil war going on in Pakistan like the one in several middle eastern countries, the armed resistance which cannot be defeated by the military operations. Call them insurgents or terrorists but they are hell bent ori to uphold vengence culture even if this was to take a century or more, a generation or more. A dialogue and reconciliation is the only course which the army and political leaders as well as the elite citizenry refuses.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • AbdurRazzaqqq

    So, your basically saying that Pakistan arresting Yadav (a confessed active operative of RAW) means nothing? Perhaps he was in Baluchistan with his accomplices to collect dried fruits to take back to India.Recommend

  • Robbie Frederick

    Karma!Recommend

  • Alann

    “Under attack again: When will our government stop tolerating banned outfits?”

    Till Kashmir becomes part of Pakistan!Recommend

  • Sami Shahid

    Wow what a stupid argument…terrorists are coming from Afghanistan and Pak media is asking the government to take action against innocent Pakistani’s ! Pak Media what do you want ? Are you a confused media ? What are you exactly ? Terrorists were Afghans who came from Afghanistan and you want the government to take action against the victims of terrorism ? What is the difference between stupid politicians of Pakistan and you ? You should ask the government to take action against terrorists in Afghanistan ! Recommend

  • Addo G

    The Pakistani army has been brutally oppressing and killing the Baloch people for decades. The people of Balochistan want Azadi and are finally rising up against Pakistani occupation. The people who did this are martyrs and a hundred new Baloch freedom fighters will rise everyday until Kalat is free. Azad Balochistan zindabad! Azad Gilgit-Baltistan zindabad!Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    An intelligence agent is not a terrorist, unless you consider all ISI agents also to be terrorists!Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Obviously you never read the extensive list of banned outfits and why they were banned! Recommend

  • AbdurRazzaqqq

    An intelligence agent from an enemy state setting up a terror network inside Pakistan is a terrorist. What else would you call people like Kulbhushan Yadav? A neighborhood candy man?Recommend

  • Musa

    Well YOU should worry about YOUR country Afghanistan first.
    Good thing youre safe in Germany. Or you would be
    packing to go back. Also, be
    careful what you write. The German Polizei might send you back!!Recommend

  • Vish

    Yes he was there to collect dry fruit, a businessman. He was kidnapped by the Taliban and handed over to ISI. That’s why to date, Indian diplomats in Pakistan have not been given access to him. Else the truth will come out that he is no spy or terrorist but actually a candy man. Only the candy he collects are the wares he exports/imports between India and Afghanistan. How come, despite being in custody Pakistani authorities are not able to provide any evidence against him.Recommend

  • Vish

    There is nothing to talk, because in reality there are no terrorist outfits sponsored by RAW. All terrorism is only linked to Pakistan and the ISIRecommend

  • Patwari

    This coming from a hindu from Hindustan. Recommend

  • AbdurRazzaqqq

    You’re an even bigger liar than your Prime Minister! Yet, Kulbhushan Yadav is more honorable than you because at least he had the guts to admit what he did.Recommend

  • AbdurRazzaqqq

    I suppose you’d say that ISI was responsible for Malagaon Blasts, Makkah Masjid Attacks as well as the Samjhauta Express Carnage too. However, your Col. Purohit has already admitted complicity in your own investigations.Recommend

  • Zurair Baloch

    As a patriotic Baloch Pakistani, I would rather swallow blades before I betray my beloved country. Your Indian PM, who was busy drinking tea while his own citizens were butchered, is lying. Here in Balochistan people chant Pakistan Zindabad and burn Indian flags. Balochis are patriotic Pakistanis. We denounce your lap dogs like Brahamdagh and we will be the first to defend Pakistan if India dares to threaten us.
    Balochistan Zindabad! Pakistan Zindabad!Recommend

  • javed Chikna

    its better to be a ” Hindustan ” than broken weak and begging terrorstan !Recommend

  • javed Chikna

    u are a bigger fool than most Punjabi !Recommend

  • javed Chikna

    licking boots is not called love for country ! But again there need to be some education to even understand what is oppression . Wher was Raheel when APS kids were getting killed?Recommend

  • javed Chikna

    there are more death in ur Punjabistan than in India, Most Punjabi are busy packing their kids to Canada while PakPunjab burns like an old houseRecommend

  • AbdurRazzaqqq

    A nonsensical comment is always a result of failure to tackle a valid point.Recommend

  • AbdurRazzaqqq

    Why are you ppl so taken up with the word ‘Punjabi’? I find it quite humorous that many responses now seem to include this and similar terms. LoLRecommend