Democracy endangered by democracy

Time to stand by the forces

ArticleYAA A facebook status commented on the attack on Karachi Airport on June 9th 2014, “Don’t take me wrong, but they all had to eventually die. A group of some 15 men could obviously not stand against army, rangers and police combined for long. Point is, they still accomplished what they came for. They didn’t come here to take the airport hostage for a lifetime. They came here to tell you, that you aren’t safe. They came here to tell you and the international community that Pakistan is nothing but a war zone. They came here to tell the people from other countries not to visit this country. They came here to tell the foreign investors not to invest here. They were here to tell today’s youth to fly out of this country. They came here to degrade your image. And they did it.”

“When the outer perimeter defense is breached the initial object has been successful,” says analyst Haris Khan of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank, in a report byUsman Ansari for Defense News (June 9, 2014)

But is there more to this sad narrative? The weapons in possession of terrorists were Indian made as was a medicine ‘Factor Eight’ found on them used by frontline Indian soldiers to inject themselves to stop bleeding and reduce pain. Nonetheless, these are also available in the international market. Their presence does however raise questions and a need to investigate the trail of the find.

I had tweeted on 9th May 2014, “No international cricket team came to Pakistan after attack on the Sri Lankan team. Will the attack on Karachi airport result in invoking an invisible no fly zone for international flight hitting Pak economy?”

On May 9th 2014 the op-ed editor of a local newspaper posted two tweets, put together it said, “Cargolux – one of the world’s biggest cargo carriers – cancels weekly flight service to Karachi. Cathay Pacific says it is cancelling all flights to Karachi – used to operate four flights a week between Karachi and Hong Kong.”

If warning off international cricket from home ground Pakistan was the objective it was brilliantly achieved in one stroke. The Guardian reported, “The future of international cricket was thrown into the air yesterday as the game’s world governing body warned that the sport had been changed irrevocably by the first targeted attacks on sports figures since the Munich Olympics 37 years ago.

After the first Test series in cricket-mad Pakistan for 14 months was brought to a bloody and premature end, the International Cricket Council (ICC) immediately cast doubt on the likelihood of the 2011 world cup being held in the country.

Sri Lanka’s tour of Pakistan was hurriedly cancelled and a helicopter chartered to take their shaken players home, including the seven injured in the attack. Match officials were evacuated to Abu Dhabi.” (Published March 4, 2009)

A local newspaper, in a report published five years down that fatal day the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked, said, “Even five year after the attack on Sri Lankan team, and in spite of all governmental claims, the revival of international cricket in Pakistan is still a far cry…This attack not only wiped out international cricket from Pakistan but also caused irreparable damage to the image of the country and its cricketing revenues.” (March 3, 2014)

 

The attack on Karachi airport reminded me of that attack many years ago. One destroyed international cricket in Pakistan; will the attack on Karachi airport frighten off foreign carriers?

 

The attack on Karachi airport reminded me of that attack many years ago. One destroyed international cricket in Pakistan; will the attack on Karachi airport frighten off foreign carriers? “Rakisits says terrorists know that Karachi is Pakistan’s commercial hub and that attacks there would scare off foreign investors and bring the economy to its knees. He says Pakistan needs to brace itself for the worst.” (Usman Ansari for Defense News)

Security at sensitive places after talks with the Taliban having been effectively called off by the government should have been tightened up many notches. This unfortunately does not seem to have happened.

Another report by Declan Walsh states, “But Sunday’s attack closed, temporarily, a transport hub that for many is a gateway to meetings in Dubai, holidays in Thailand and summer homes in London. Some Karachi residents said they feared that western airlines might reduce their services, as some did after the Red Mosque siege in Islamabad in 2007.” (New York Times June 9, 2014) Quoting Adil Najam, a Pakistani analyst, the report states, “Now that the Taliban have splintered, we could see multiple groups fighting the government in different ways,” said Mr Najam, the academic. “And so the real test is whether the political will can hold.”

Mr Adil Najam has hit the nail on the head. The political will is the key. No matter what the people of Pakistan may want, the decisions lie with the political dispensation.PM Nawaz’s government had believed that talks with the Taliban will bring peace to the country. This has not worked for many reasons. First, Taliban are working on an agenda, and peace does not figure in their plans. Second. With splintering of ranks within Taliban, some factions may support peace talks while obviously others do not.

Eventually on the directions of the government, Pakistan army has launched an operation against foreign and local terrorists hiding in sanctuaries in North Waziristan Agency — the decision has come on heels of this attack.

In my op-ed dated May 26, 2014 I had written, “The question is; will the terrorists restrict themselves to North Waziristan or escape to other areas to regroup in face of the military offensive? The answer is no to the first part and yes to the second part. Even if the security forces reportedly took the caution of sealing off exit points from North Waziristan, which they did; leaks would have led to many exits before the offensive happened. The fact remains; not every Taliban is in North Waziristan, cross border ingress and support has happened before and will happen again. With the heat turned on, attacks in other parts of Pakistan and lethal attacks for that matter will be launched to divert and deflect attention. There are good chances of the fire spreading.”

Nonetheless, the decision to launch an attack against Taliban has come. The entire nation must stand with this decision of the government and the Pakistan army as one man.

That ‘bloody Sunday’ Pakistan suffered two attacks. One was on Karachi airport and the other in Taftan. 30 died as a result of the bombing, a suicide bomber entering the Al Murtaza Hotel and blew himself up in the midst of milling shi’a pilgrims. This tragic news was overshadowed by the Karachi airport incident with all the ingredients of a box office thriller that took over the TV screens.

Some sections of the media have been quick to fuel more uncertainty by commenting on a widening civil-military divide. This is just so sad. Instead of focusing on the political strength of the political parties who have finally agreed on a military solution; a tough decision by any standards, there seems to be a desire to wedge differences by airing such views that cannot be in the interest of Pakistan at this juncture.

Any democratic government coming to power through the will of the people just needs to do one thing; focus on delivering. Insecurity seeps in only when this basic objective is lost. The promotion of division lines by certain elements must be strongly ignored. The threat then to democracy comes; from democracy itself.

Cross Post: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/06/16/comment/democracy-endangered-by-democracy/

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