Articles of the year 2007

Published on May 04th, 2007

Events of the last week brought into sharp focus the mishandling of the Lal Masjid affair by the Ministers of Musharraf's cabinet. The number of people involved in the negotiations mushroomed progressively, with the Ministers vying with each other in their rush to appear on Television . Ijazul haq could be seen on six different channels, invariably admitting his failure in the negotiations. The Mullahs were gloating at the obvious discomfort of the Government in the escalating drama.

I had stated categorically in this column the blunders committed by Ijazul Haq, from his first surrender onward.( See Abject Surrender The Nation ) What was much more dangerous was using his position as a Federal Minister to protect the two Mullahs from Government action, and in one instance, he has been accused in the Media of allowing the release of a car full of weapons owned by the two clerics on his personal cognizance. This and other actions eventually had devastating consequences in the loss of life of the Army personnel, and of the hostages. For this Ijazul Haq should be held directly responsible. In the various talk shows he has been asked this very question to which there was no satisfactory reply. He must now be prosecuted as an accessory of the two clerics, and I am sure Mullah Aziz will already have given the details of support received. He had also been stating in the Media the presence of eight internationally known terrorists with head money in millions. These are unaccounted for, but had added to the confusion surrounding the crisis.Here I would request the President to order the Agencies to give the accurate versions without the doctoring, that they think is their purview.

Terrorism is now a worldwide phenomenon, and is not an affliction of Pakistan alone. For too long has the world been hostage to Acts perpetrated by persons trained in Pakistan and employing these skills in the lands of their domiciles. We have been guilty of harbouring these schools and their trainers, in short--the export of terror. The US and the other Western intelligence agencies have repeatedly pinpointed the Madrassas where this training is being imparted. With Suicide bombers being proudly touted as the latest weapon in their armoury. And with the two brothers brandishing their presence as a threat to be taken seriously. Unfortunately after Iraq and Afghanistan we are next in line for the number of Suiciders in our midst, and have become inured to their presence and their abilities. Even the Government has come to consider them as a weapon like an AK47, or a TT. It is far more dangerous, for it shows the ultimate in brainwashing techniques, with many more facets. Suicide missions being the ultimate sacrifice, are a highly prized weapon by their handlers, and shown off complete with shrouds.

The Lal Masjid incident has shown another flaw in the Pakistani character. Anywhere in the World when a hijacking is done, be it a plane, a school, or a bus, the authorities are allowed to get on with the job, for Hijacking is a known crime with set procedures in place, and with specialists trained in the art of negotiating. Here we were at the mercy of Ministers, whose main claim was to negotiate settlements with NAB, where they have been eminently successful, the proof being their incumbent Ministerial positions. Also in every country the people rallied round the flag, and no one ever spoke up in favour of the Hijacker. Here we were faced with a chorus of voices, ranging from leaders of the opposition to members of the ruling MMA. This strange disunity separates us from other countries where we are prone to invite anybody to helps dislodge the Government. Even outsiders such as the US Ambassador are regularly solicited for assistance by many of our leading political lights. The 1000 plus women and children hostages, and their distraught parents at the gates of the Mosque, were not bargaining chips in the grand political game, but were used as such. Even the APC in London cried foul, and stated for the record that this was an attempt by the Government to sabotage their Conference. This was a shocking and ridiculous charge leveled by what is, the alternate Government--- to take power in a changed setup! Can we trust such juvenile thinking in our future cabinets--- or should we? The Hatred and venom should have been reserved for the perpetrators of the Lal Masjid crisis—the Two bothers, and their cohorts, if established, after the investigations have been carried out.

Till that time the country should have acted as one. Unity was the call of the hour, and unfortunately our political leadership was found wanting.