Articles of the year 2007

The Targets
Published on July 03rd, 2007

The tragic events that have unfolded over the last few days, have shaken the people out of their reverie, and the euphoria of all being well has suddenly been so horribly and tragically exposed. First there was the stampede in which women and children were trampled to death. This was totally avoidable, as such a large congregation should not have been allowed without the proper exit routes and existence of bottlenecks. The administration should have taken into account the Panic factor, and planned accordingly. Stampedes do take place in crowded areas, like football stadiums, or even the rushes at Mina. It takes one person to stumble, and to fall is certain death- for the fall triggers the stampede, crushing anyone who is unlucky enough to fall or too weak to get up. The screams of the fallen leads to more panic, with the mob then turning into a mindless monster.

The second incident, the bombing in Nishtar Park is far more dangerous, and symptomatic of the Provincial Governments' lulling itself, and Islamabad into a sense of security, whose fragile nature was so brutally exposed. The Americans are not mad to issue travel advisories to their citizens, on such a regular basis. There was such a red alert before the last Marriot bomb, and Embassies were on an alert. Surely this was not the right time to plan such a huge Ijtama? It was a clear invitation to a lunatic attacker. There are too many trouble spots inside and around Pakistan to afford the luxury of such huge rallies. Human lives are very precious, regardless of credo, political or religious. It is the duty of the Government to protect them all irrespective of their beliefs. In this case preemptive action should have been formulated to prevent just such a target being created. The feel good factor is essential to the marketing of the soft and progressive image of Pakistan, but prudence is also recommended strongly. As the suicide bomber is a weapon very much in vogue nowadays, and the daily doses being administered in Kabul and Baghdad with their toll are regular fare on TV courtesy CNN and the BBC.

Another disturbing incident is the Akhtar Mengal Government stand off in DHA Karachi. It reportedly started with some men from the 'agencies' following Mengal's children, whereupon his men reacted, and the rest snowballed into a siege being laid of Mengal's house denied by the Sindh Police, but witnessed by hundreds of people in Karachi. The press showed pictures of the barricading trucks, on the TV and in the papers. Mengal's brother had in fact disappeared under fairly similar circumstance many years ago, and Mr. Bhutto who was Prime Minister was held responsible. The body was not recovered nor did Bhutto ever admit to the lapse in his administration. So one would suggest that as the Baluchistan problem does in fact have a long history vis a vis the Mengal family, the new officers should be cautioned to be even more careful lest there be another unexplained disappearance of a Mengal yet again. Karachi would also like to kept at a distance from the happenings in Baluchistan, for the people of Karachi are peaceful and unarmed, and as observed recently are a very soft target. We would like Karachi to remain peaceful, and continue to be the economic breadbasket for the many diverse ethnic groups that reside here.

The economy of any city or country has always been dependent directly on the security of the citizens, so for the Government the security aspect will contribute to the success or failure of the economy of Karachi. The last wave in the early nineties saw a rush of Industrial wealth both monetary and human, relocate to the Punjab. It will be a pity if the drift starts again. It is now important for all partners of the Coalition to unite and pull together, and take the opposition Parties with them. We are at a crossroad where the choice of path is crucial to our economic well being. No number of Expos will work if mad bombers are given the room to work in,--- or the targets.