June Issue 2015

By | News & Politics | Published 4 years ago

This country appears to be completely overrun by Gullu Butts. Or so it appears.

For how does one explain the high voltage drama enacted outside the Sindh High Court, when PPP’s former interior minister Zulfiqar Mirza was expected to arrive to secure an extension in his bail. Over a dozen men in civvies and ski masks — purportedly commandos belonging to the Special Security Unit whose identities still remain unknown — beat up Mirza’s guards ruthlessly and snatched cameras from photographers of satellite channels who were reporting live from the premises. The IG Sindh said he didn’t order the action and the chief minister feigned total ignorance.

Another sordid spectacle played out a few days later: hundreds of men in black coats ran amok on the streets of Punjab, when two lawyers were shot dead by a cop in Daska, following an altercation over an anti-encroachment drive, launched by the Town Municipal Administration with the assistance of the police. They thrashed the police, set their offices and vehicles on fire, destroyed official records and tried to force their way into the Punjab Assembly. The genie that was unleashed during the lawyers movement for the restoration of the judiciary refuses to return to the bottle. Increasingly, the men in black coats are indulging in lawlessness.

Nobody condones the police for the senseless murder of the two lawyers — or Zulfiqar Mirza for his use of vile language against the PPP. But should the custodians of the law, be they the police or the lawyers, resort to this kind of lawlessness, when the country is already wracked with violence of epic proportions?

Pakistan cannot afford any infighting between two key institutions of the state when the enemy is so macabre, so powerful.

The recent barbaric execution of 20 Pashtun labourers, who were pulled out of two buses in Mastung, that were waylaid by as many as 15-20 gunmen, is a chilling reminder of the challenges that lie ahead. Prior to that, 45 members of the Ismaili community were killed, when a bus carrying them was attacked at Karachi’s Safoora Goth. The killings don’t stop — Shias, Sunnis, doctors, teachers, innocent bystanders, no one nowhere is safe.

The recent meeting of the civilian-military leadership in the capital expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the apex committees set up at the provincial level to implement the National Action Plan (NAP).  Clearly a lack of political will stands in the way of any progress on madrassah reforms — a key objective of NAP. Recently, when PML-N’s Information Minister, Pervez Rashid, was declared wajib-ul-qatl for declaring madrassahs as “universities of jahalat (ignorance)” and banners to the effect were plastered across Pindi-Islamabad by assorted religious groups, none of his colleagues came to his rescue. Rather, they went into the apology mode.

And if that were not bad enough, there was also the news that the country’s interior minister had stopped talking to the prime minister because of the latter’s meddling in his ministry’s affairs.

How does a country conduct its war on terror if the main functionaries of the state are engaged in their own turf wars? More importantly, how will  Prime Minister Sharif’s flagship project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, get off the ground, if the country’s security challenges remain unaddressed?

This article was originally published in Newsline’s June 2015 issue.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.