Has Christmas come early, I wonder? What a godsend for secular and liberal minded persons, such as myself, that mass killer of San Bernardino in California, Tashfeen Malik, has been linked to Maulana Abdul Aziz of the Lal Masjid, Islamabad. Citizens, like me, have been questioning why the gent who held Islamabad hostage, first with his armed movement and parallel government in Islamabad, and then armed conflict with the state lasting a week in 2007, still roams free. Since then, he has been acquitted in around two dozen cases against him. How and why he was acquitted remains a big question mark on the justice system, the fear factor that ruled it, as well as on the aspect of who backs the maulana. Since then he has regularly challenged the state, his girl students and his wife having released a video pledging allegiance to ISIS. He regularly rejected the constitution of Pakistan as the basic law of the land; refused to condemn the slaughter of innocent children killed by the Taliban in the Peshawer APS attack, thereby implying support for the Taliban; refused to acknowledge soldiers and officers of the Pakistan Army as shuhada; called Taliban leaders who have fought against the state and people of Pakistan shuhada; admitted to brainwashing children in madrassas controlled by him (over 5000 children at any given time) to wage ‘jihad’ (read terror). Yet, and in the face of so many deaths of Pakistani citizens that Maulana Abdul Aziz is directly or indirectly responsible for, the state appears paralyzed; the interior minister found obfuscating the matter and quaking in his boots.

Since the minister has not acted to arrest and try the monster responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of Pakistanis, all the whilst crowing about the progress on the National Action Plan against terrorism, I for one am ecstatic that Maulana Aziz’s link with the California massacre has surfaced. Perhaps the American government will now ‘convince’ the respected minister where millions of Pakistanis couldn’t. A shame that the deaths of 14 Americans will perhaps matter more where Maulana Aziz is concerned than the deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Pakistanis. Still, if that’s what it takes, so be it. And if he still doesn’t act, there’s always the OBL style humiliating favour the Americans can do the Pakistani citizens. And there will be no scapegoats like Dr Afridi this time around either. Maulana Aziz lives in full gaze of the entire world in Islamabad.

Whilst conveniently passing the buck for holes in the implementation of the NAP on to provincial NAP committees, the federal interior minister even fails to answer for what goes on in Islamabad and other federally administered areas. On the 26th of November, he arrogantly brushed aside questions on the floor of the house about the identity or identity papers of twenty or so bodies brought back to Upper and Lower Dir from Afghanistan to be buried. Clearly, the bodies crossed the border and reached Dir from Afghanistan through federally administered tribal areas (FATA). In the week preceding 26th of November, there had been several reports in the press about these mysterious bodies, the funerals attended by thousands. Yet the minister proclaimed ignorance and asked the questioner, Dr. Nafisa Shah, to provide him the details since she knew more about the matter than he. One doesn’t quite know what to make of such intransigence when the federal interior minister feigns ignorance of such events (involving the international border of the country and the federally administered areas) that have actually been reported in the press. And if indeed he is actually ignorant of it in the middle of a war on terror, should he be the interior minister looking after the most fundamental problem facing the country?

On the floor of the house, the minister parried with Dr. Shah over whether the topic was NAP or his ministry’s performance with regard to registration of identity cards and passports. Clearly, on a holistic level the two matters are very much related, but the minister side-stepped the question on a very narrow definition of ‘topic’. Fine. But the questions put to him on the floor of the house are of fundamental national importance and need answering, not just by Dr. Shah, but by the citizens of this country who are wondering with Dr. Shah as to how serious the government and state are about the NAP. Several days have passed and perhaps the interior minister can now address these important concerns via a press conference.

As a reminder, the questions pertained to the identity of the bodies brought to Dir and what these persons were doing in Afghanistan, and on which passports their bodies were brought back to Pakistan; were they Pakistani militants waging ‘jihad’ against the Afghan government in Afghanistan; how other militant leaders such as of the terrorist Badar group resident in Sindh and Punjab reached Dir, through check posts controlled by the Pakistan Army, to attend the funerals. Another line of questions put by Dr. Shah, and unanswered by the interior minister, pertain to banned militant outfits contesting local bodies elections in various cities of Pakistan under new names – Dr. Shah made a reference to the Rah-e-Haq party (a new name the ASWJ has registered itself after being banned) contesting elections – but there are other such bodies operating freely, like the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation. It is not only the interior minister’s job to know about all these things, but a criminal dereliction of duty on his part to be arrogantly claiming to be ignorant of these well documented and reported facts and asking opposition parties for the details in his attempt at deflecting attention from his non implementation of NAP. How is it possible that everyone knows but the point man for the National Action Plan doesn’t?

I would urge the federal interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar, to address the nation on these important issues and provide answers on a post haste basis. The citizens demand answers now, and the minister cannot claim privilege on a point of ‘topic’.