May 29, 2010

We can blame foreign elements and militants for attacks like the one on the Ahmadi community, but let’s not forget how easy it has become to exploit people within Pakistan who are so highly charged and act without thinking.

“Armed with AK-47 rifles, shotguns, grenades, wearing suicide jackets and firing automatic weapons indiscriminately, the terrorists occupied the worship place for several hours, frustrating several police attempts to enter the building, delaying rescue work and holding hundreds of people hostage.” This was the description of one of the attacks on Ahmadis yesterday on

This account delivers a multiple sense of déjà vu: Manawan Police Academy, Lahore; GHQ. But this time, the act was not against the state – or at least not directly – it targeted a minority.

This isn’t the first time that mosques have been targeted, but this is the biggest attack on members of the Ahmadi community. At least 80 worshippers were killed, and some reports say over 110 injured, in the course of a few hours. But are condemnations of the attack once it has taken place enough?

In a news report yesterday, the HRCP was quoted as saying that it had informed the government of the threat to the Ahmadi community a year ago. In light of that was there any action taken by the government, or was there adequate provision of security to their place of worship? No.

The recent ban on Facebook and what has followed after has clearly illustrated the tolerance levels of people in the country. Go around and read the comments on some of the blog posts and you will realise not only how much hatred people are filled with for those outside the country but also for their own fellow denizens.

While the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan may be the first to be blamed (there was also a report by The News that a faction of the TTP has taken responsibility for the attack) one cannot overlook the fact that groups and individuals in our cities have access to weapons and do not hesitate to use them indiscriminately. Go back to the incident of alawyer being shot in his chambers in Lahore, just a few days back.

The PML-N, who is pointing fingers outside (towards RAW), should first look within Pakistan. While it is plausible that foreign elements are exploiting the situation for ulterior motives, what is also important to note is how easy it has become for them to exploit a people who are so highly charged and act without thinking. Aren’t we, the people of Pakistan, a direct and major part of the problem?

Farieha Aziz is a Karachi-based journalist and teacher. She joined Newsline in 2007, rising to assistant editor. Farieha was awarded the APNS award for Best Investigative Report (Business/Economic) for the year 2007-2008. She is a co-founder and Director at Bolo Bhi, an advocacy forum of Digital Rights.