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Collective failure


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WAKE-UP calls are rare in a country as violent as Pakistan. But as desensitised to bloodshed as we have become, a single day in which well over 100 people die in several incidents of terrorism and targeted killing across the country is impossible to get through without thinking about where we are headed as a nation. Thursday laid out, in gory detail, the realities that we collectively face today: the range of communities under threat, including Shias, security forces and the police, journalists, religious organisations, Fata’s tribesmen, and those simply caught in the crossfire. How widespread the threat is, from Karachi to Quetta to Swat in a single day. How many causes are being fought for with violence, from sectarian hatred and religious differences to separatism and ethnic or tribal feuds. And, most importantly, how underprepared we remain despite many unfortunate incidents to learn from.

Thursday’s events pointed both to how much we know and to how much we don’t. The motive and actors behind the Swat attack on the Tableeghi Jamaat and the shooting to death in Karachi of a number of labourers from the tribal areas remain unclear, demonstrating how varied the threats are. But the bomb attacks against Hazara Shias in Quetta were simply the deadliest of a string of attacks on the community in and around the city over the past year. And consecutive bomb attacks have taken place before, with those rushing to the scene, including media persons, having been caught in previous incidents of second explosions closely following a first at the same place. Swat still contains a heavy military and police presence that has been there since the 2009 operation. Baloch grievances have been lingering for years and attacks by Baloch nationalists on the Frontier Corps are old news. So while some threats are new and unexplained, others have by now developed a pattern, stem from a known problem or take place in areas that are heavily guarded.

Thursday’s events were enabled, then, by massive failures on the part a range of institutions, from the government and the media to the military, the police and intelligence agencies. No bold political solutions for Balochistan have been worked out. No decisive military action has been launched in North Waziristan. Intelligence gathering is inadequate and poor coordination between intelligence agencies and the police means attacks are rarely prevented. No sustained national consensus has been built against terrorism and violent extremism, for which the media is also to blame. How long can Pakistan survive in the face of such a complete failure to fend off internal threats?

Comments (12) Closed

Mohammad Ali Khan Jan 11, 2013 10:38pm
These terrorists live in our neighborhoods.Shop in our neighborhoods.Grow up in our neighborhoods.How come we don't recognize them?Because their fanaticism is indistinguishable from our fanaticism.To identify them, we need to believe and live differently.Only then their(fanatics) actions will standout in the society, and we can put them away.
SS Jan 12, 2013 12:40am
I am Sorry, but, Why is there no comment from The President, The Prime Minister or for that matter the interior minister? Why hasn't The Establishment huddled with the politicians to address this problem? Are we just going to watch while The Neros play on the Fiddle?
AHA Jan 12, 2013 02:05am
We preach hatred with zeal, we breed terror as part of strategic objectives. No, this is not a failure. This is the reward for all our efforts.
Marina Jan 12, 2013 05:56am
Thanks to the Musharaf's yes boss manship which dragged the country in this WAR FOR TERROR. Putting the directive of Collen Paul would have resulted in cluster bombings of a few months, but allying with them cost us more than a decade long bombings.
anil gupta Jan 12, 2013 07:19am
This is a conspiracy, i believe there is some foreign hand.
Nony Jan 12, 2013 07:58am
The religious monstor which we have been feeding for years has grown enough to eatup this entire country now !!
M. Asghar Jan 12, 2013 11:19am
As the Editorial's points out forcefully, the present total absence of the state in all the departments cannot do anything but breed a murderous lawlessnes that one witnesses helplessly everyday.
Chaman Jan 12, 2013 12:14pm
Where do these organizations get their funds and weopons from. Find out and starve them of these vital ingredients. When the blood supply gets cut, the death of such organizations is inevitable.
Zimbo_Indian Jan 12, 2013 05:29pm
Pakistan created the monster of terrorism. Now the creation is devouring the creator.
Kamal Hussain Jan 12, 2013 11:02pm
Khan Sahib, the problem is with the mindset of people - those who live in your neighborhoods and in your house - you have to go through a process of self-actualization. It is pointless to be in denial as DAWN continues to do so in its infinite wisdom - the media is part of the problem. I frequently come across Pakistanis here in the United States. No one ever said a kind word to me, not even a courtesy 'salaam' because of my ethnicity. Therefore, I am not surprised that people in Pakistan are tearing each other apart and resorting to mass murder because of sectarian and ethnic differences (as implied in the editorial).
Syed from Australia. Jan 13, 2013 12:20am
Very sad, why such a callous attitude from the President of Pakistan, the Prime Minister, tHe Chief Justice. I do not blame the Army as they are already suffering under the hands of the most incapable civil government of my life time in Pakistan. Shame on you all.
mazharuddin Jan 13, 2013 04:46am
Editor never discussed root causes of sectarian strife since the very beginning while such were several times commented in this news paper and other leading English news paper in Karachi as well as in international news papers. There is fanaticism, need all such religious activities of all faction be denied at public places that create hatred, no procession and congregation seem during Caliphate period. Islam is to believe in God and men should perform their duties honestly for own survival. Those religious leaders are criminals who deny to discuss and settle matter on the basis of justice and avoid using innovative mind to settle matter. Religion is one, why divided in faction - need to unite on just ground.