VIEW: Let us keep our fingers crossed -Daud Khattak.
Perhaps the horrendous murder of young Mian Rashid Hussain was not sufficient to quench the thirst of the merchants of death for bloodletting. The next day they dispatched another bomber to target those gathered in a mosque in Pabbi town of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to mourn the death of the previous day. The father of Mian Rashid, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, is a man who has valiantly fought on the political front to dislodge the extremists from the valley of Swat.
It is unfortunate that Mian Iftikhar who reached the site of almost each suicide blast and other incidents of terrorism to share the grief of the families of victims, was unable to shoulder the bodies of his near and dear ones maimed by the brainwashed messenger of death, as he was told that two more suicide bombers were on the prowl to target him.
Ironically, these blasts have taken place merely days after the grand celebration of the return of 'peace' in the valley of Swat. The word 'peace' almost seems like a dream for the people of our country (KP and tribal areas in particular), a dream that promises to disappear completely if attacks like those in Pabbi and recently in Lahore do not cease.
It is interesting to note that the Swat chief Mullah Fazlullah appeared in a video merely a day before the killing of Mian Iftikhar's son. He is shown to be speaking to a band of men inciting them to carry out attacks against everyone not fitting their frame of Islam with particular instruction of targeting the army and leaders of the Awami National Party (ANP). Fazlullah is the man believed to be responsible for the gloom and doom befalling Swat in 2008-9; he has, surprisingly, evaded arrest at the hands of the security forces or getting killed by a mortar shell during Operation Rah-e-Raast when the valley was vacated and barricaded for almost a month.
Saturday's targeted killing of an innocent and unarmed person or Monday's blast on the people gathered to offer fateha for the departed soul are not something new, as the extremists have spared no place or occasion, be it jirgas (assembly of elders), hujras (community guest houses), mosques or funerals. Some latest examples are the attack on a jirga in Mohmand, suicide blasts at the shrine of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh, attacks on mosques in Khyber , Lahore and Rawalpindi and the suicide attack at the funeral of Deputy Superintendent of Police Javid Iqbal in Swat. One may wonder what was the fault of any of them? Maulana Fazlullah provides us with an answer in his video, where he claims: "It is not a sin in Islam if some innocent people are killed while pursuing your target." Even if we were to accept this atrocious statement, it falls on its face when we consider the Mina Bazaar blast in Peshawar where over 100 people were killed. What was the target of that blast?
The KP senior minister Bashir Bilour is absolutely right when he states that those carrying out such attacks are neither Pashtuns, nor Muslims. A Pashtun would seldom attack his enemy when they (enemies) are mourning the death of their close relatives. Similarly, a Muslim would never attack a mosque or innocent people whatever the target may be. It is, therefore, important to openly condemn these actions as being outside the sphere of Islam.
Two more serious questions have emerged with the recent attacks about the claims of the government regarding success and weakening of the terrorists and their supporters. The achievements claimed in Swat, Waziristan or Orakzai and Khyber shall be considered superficial from a common man's lens as long as kidnappings, targeted killings, mine explosions and suicide attacks continue in the tribal areas and the cities. Calling the military campaigns a success in the face of the rampant attacks and the enormous loss of lives is being oblivious of reality. Furthermore, the claims that militants are being weakened appears hollow since the attack on the residence of Mian Iftikhar despite all the security arrangements proves that that the militants' command and control structure as well as their network is fully intact. It seems that they can dispatch bombers and launch attacks anywhere they like.
Undoubtedly, the ANP-led government has rendered remarkable sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and the recent attack on its top leadership and the assassination of its two sitting MPAs, the killing of its local leaders as well as their relatives are proof of their resolve. Now, it is the turn of the security agencies to review their strategy, remove loopholes and strike decisively at the menace of terrorism that is constantly threatening our nation.
Many see a ray of hope in the three-year extension given by the elected government to the army chief General Ashfaque Parvez Kayani - let us keep our fingers crossed.
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