The BBC’s Ilyas Khan has written an excellent article on how casually top Pakistani officials continue to treat the local fundamentalist militant threat that has grown so quickly over the last year.
Khan uses the official reaction to the recent attack on the Manawan police academy in Lahore to make his point:
Eight hours of siege, eight policemen killed, nearly 100 injured, and at the end of the day what do we know about the stand off at the Manawan police academy?
Very little, as usual.
And just as usual, analysts have continued to point out on television news shows that Pakistan has yet to stop being casual about the militant threat.
The question is, why do top Pakistani officials continue to make off the cuff remarks about a problem that appears to be ripping the country apart?
I don’t know the answer to that question but it saddens me to see a lack of outrage from many of those top officials. Certainly they claim to be upset by what’s happened, but they’re obviously not upset enough to do anything concrete and long-lasting about it. All they seem to want to do is apply another roll of duct tape to the problem in the hope that it’ll hold everything together.
I mean, seriously, why are analysts, journalists, and reporters the only ones – aside from the general public, of course – who are openly discussing the gravity and long-term implications of attacks such as these? And why are they the only ones who seem to be saddened by the loss of life that accompanies each and every one of those attacks?
This lack of acknowledgement (of gravity) from the top is an issue because openly admitting that you have a problem really is the first step you have to take before you can start to solve things. And it’s that very acknowledgement that doesn’t seem to be coming from the people who can actually do something about it.
Mosharraf Zaidi, meanwhile, is optimistic that this most recent attack will finally get the bureaucracy to do something about the situation. In his most recent article and blog post, ‘Counter-Terrorism Through the Civil Service’, he writes:
The attack on the Lahore police training facility yesterday, which as of the time of this article’s writing had not ended, should wake Pakistan up. There is an existential monster that Pakistanis are unable to acknowledge because of the weakness of their Muslim faith. This weakness is exacerbated by the average Pakistani Muslim’s dependence on unholy mullahs whose money-ing by General Zia, radical Saudis, and the joint efforts of the CIA and the ISI is now proving to be the single gravest threat to the sustainability of Pakistan as an operational entity.
The ostrich-like reaction to terrorism is driven by the average Pakistani’s inability to debate the mullah, and an unwillingness to invest the effort and time required to tame that mullah. Abandoned and let loose by the “shurafa” that once were able to tame the mullah, and to speak his language, the mullah’s new master–the comfort of Land Cruisers and bottled water–has no scruples.
Do make sure you read his entire blog post as well as the comments the post has generated. The comments on all of Zaidi’s posts are always worth a read.
What Happens Now?
So there you have it: a reason to be pessimistic about the whole situation and yet there’s always a glimmer of hope that maybe this time people will be motivated enough to actually do something concrete to fix the problem (or at least start to fix the problem). The lawyers certainly did with their long march. How long before the rest of us wake up and really do something about the militancy problem too?
Here’s hoping there is cause for optimism over the next few days as officials tell us exactly what happened during the Manawan attack and what they’re going to do about it. As one expert commentator on Geo News said a couple of days ago: until the government actually captures, punishes, and makes an example of the people who are carrying out these acts of terrorism, the militants don’t really have any incentive to stop doing whatever it is they darned well want to. This, then, is the opportunity for the government to do just that. If they want to send a message to the militants, now is the time.