In less than a week of the Interior Minister’s claim that Islamabad was completely secure with foolproof security on the floor of the National Assembly, it was ripped apart by the militants to demonstrate who rules the land. Islamabad District Courts compounds were ruthlessly attacked to kill a dozen citizens including a judge and a young female lawyer. Two of the attackers blasted themselves while others escaped without being detected till late evening on Monday.

The circus that followed included Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) televised distancing itself from the attack and million dollar suggestions that some ‘agencies’ opposing negotiations might be responsible for it. The neatly bearded and assertive spokesperson of TTP clad in commando jacket and pakol looked into reporters’ eyes while giving out the statement. He didn’t forget to name India’s R&AW might have been behind the terrorist attack. Almost similar was the harangue by Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf’s (PTI) chief Imran Khan, who suggested the same and named America as a possible architect of the attack.

How could we ignore our not-so-reticent Interior Minister who once again occupied the stage in the Assembly and went on for an hour telling fellow MPs how we should not talk about our weaknesses. In the myriad TV talk shows, different ministers and members of ruling PMLN appeared as clueless as they could get while the members of opposition parties (save PTI) were painfully and bizarrely predictable in opposing the talks with TTP (despite having signed the APC declaration last year calling for the talks).

Notwithstanding the question that if the journalists could reach the militants’ spokesperson, why could law enforcing and intelligence agencies not ascertain the whereabouts of his terrorist comrades, it is lamentable to see the faces of the killers of thousands of Pakistanis having immense media space and general acceptability. The collective masochism of the Islamic Republic and its movers could never be underestimated!

The judge who was killed in the attack has some uncomfortable track record of bailing out former military dictator in the Lal Masjid case. The case was filed by Haroon Rasheed, the son of slain militant Rasheed Ghazi of Lal Masjid, which was dismissed by the judge Rafaqat Ahmed Awan for being ‘motivated by the desire for cheap publicity.’ The terrorist attack was claimed by a newly formed comparatively unknown terrorist outfit, Ahrar-ul-Hind. The group takes most of its members from the former ‘students’ of Lal Masjid, who have time and again expressed their determination to avenge the military operation on the Lal Masjid compound full of heavy weaponry. The avengers of Lal Masjid, it must be noted, are not concentrated in one terrorist outfit. Another group Jandoola Hafsa also has an overwhelming number of Lal Masjid alumni.

The Ahrar-ul-Hind makes itself conspicuous by its peculiar name and declared objectives of taking over the entire Indian subcontinent and then enforcing Sharia throughout the world. On their Facebook page and as reported by The Long War Journal, a terrorist watch web-based group, the Ahrar-ul-Hind announced their breaking away from the parent TTP last February when the latter expressed their willingness to negotiate peace with the government of Pakistan. According to SITE, the jihadist threat monitoring intelligence website, the Ahrar had also demanded for the military withdrawal from FATA, the haven for all sorts of militants including TTP and others. Their name curiously reminds one of the religio-political pre-partition group in united India that was against the creation of Pakistan.

All said, it always surprises the ordinary Pakistani that no one is even mentioning Maulvi Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid who was acquitted by the court in all cases against him for lack of evidence and who still remains the official cleric of same mosque. The question that otherwise loud anchorpersons of TV talk shows are not asking is, why is Maulvi Aziz not being arrested or even being named in the FIR for being the prime suspect for his personal beef with the judge who was killed on Monday.

In a hyped-up TV show a couple of weeks ago, I shared a panel with this Maulvi and tried to raise the issue of the insecurity under which our courts have to give judgments; a fact that could very well be the reason for why most of these militants keep getting comfortable acquittals. Another issue that I raised was of the continued legacy of Maulvi Aziz of being anti-army on the terrorism issue. In 2005, he issued a fatwa against the Pak Army and declared that reciting the funeral prayers of soldiers who give their lives fighting Islamist terrorists was un-Islamic. The fatwa also went on to describe the soldiers as being against the cause of the Islamic Ummah and stated that they could not be termed martyrs if killed. The fatwa still remains and has not been taken back by the Maulvi.

The acquittal of this bearer of weapons, which he generously displayed during his recent media appearance through heavily armed guards, was followed by his reinstation as the official cleric of Lal Masijid. Not only that, Malik Riaz, a philanthropist and real estate tycoon (having close relations with members of the ruling elite including the army, civil bureaucracy, politicians, intelligence agencies and judiciary) built a grand new compound of Lal Masjid for the Maulvi.

One must not forget the ties of the TTP with these splinter groups. The FATA mountains are safe dwellings for all these groups where they share logistic and supplies arrangements with each other. The TTP spokesperson who was seen on TV giving ideas on who could have been the culprit must have seen the statement of Ahrar’s spokesperson Asad Mansour as well. What makes him still bring R&AW into it? How does Imran Khan know it was America? Do both of them think that Americans and Indians have influence on suicide bombers? Do they know that suicide bombers are religiously motivated and believe in pan-Islamism? How do America and India figure in this? Are they telling us that America and India have access to and influence on suicide bombers? The ones who both PTI and TTP claim are fighting against American imperialism?

Who reinstated Maulvi Aziz? Why he is not being named as the prime suspect for the attack on district courts? Why does he keep appearing on our national media, vomiting out anti-army, anti-constitution, anti-democracy and anti-Pakistan jibes? Why should a strong military action against Ahrar not be carried out in FATA?

While the nation was looking for answers to these critical questions, the parliament was rocking with explosive allegations by Mr. Jamshaid Dasti, an elected representative, about the drinking habits and lifestyle of fellow parliamentarians. And this happens on the day when the Interior Minister announced his government’s National Security Policy. The Policy, among other things, proposed a Joint Directorate of Intelligence where all intelligence on terrorists would be collated and coordinated. Is there any link between the National Security Policy and the Dasti bum (urdu colloquial for hand grenade. No pun intended), fired on the parliament?

Talk less, think more dear Minister and countrymen.

 The writer is an Islamabad based campaigner for human rights and works on parliamentary strengthening and democratic governance.

Email:marvi@marvisirmed.com

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