A CITY already battered by a cycle of violence has been rocked by a deadly attack targeting the Shia community — the tragedy in Karachi yesterday is compounded by the fact that the description could apply to several other Pakistani cities, not least Quetta and Peshawar. After each such attack as yesterday’s in Abbas Town (located in an area prone to attacks) the same set of questions are asked — and never answered. Leave aside why the attack took place at all and what the intelligence apparatus did to try and prevent it, where are the lessons learned by the law-enforcement personnel, emergency services and first responders? Law-enforcement personnel are often worried about their own safety after such attacks because angry crowds can turn on them, but that still leaves a vital job to be done: helping emergency services and first responders rescue the injured and saving lives. Instead of helping impose order, an all-too-familiar scene of chaos broke out: ruptured gas lines were not quickly closed, rescue equipment was late in arriving and expertise was missing from the site. Much as bystanders and citizens want to help in such situations and can do some good, collapsed buildings pose a special danger and rubble moved hastily by untrained volunteers can cause more harm to survivors. But then, with the state absent, can people stand by and watch others die unnecessarily?

After the dust settles and the dead are buried and the injured are discharged from hospitals, the next set of usual questions will be asked. Among them, why is Karachi’s security and intelligence apparatus unable to detect militant cells and groups capable of mounting such devastating attacks in the city? But perhaps more pertinently, the past has to be re-examined first. What exactly has been done to find, prosecute and shut down the groups that have perpetrated previous major attacks, in Karachi and elsewhere? The answer, known to one and all, is damningly little. Little can be fixed in the present if the recent past continues to go unaddressed.

Perhaps the greatest challenge is the geographical spread of violence against Shias: from Quetta to Peshawar and Karachi to Gilgit-Baltistan with Lahore thrown in for good measure recently, no one federal or provincial intelligence or security agency can address the threat on its own. But with meaningful cooperation between various tiers being intermittent and institutional turf wars a reality, the country is no closer to finding a solution to a problem that just keeps growing in complexity and scope.

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Comments (12)

Q&A
March 4, 2013 8:45 pm
Elephant in the room...Iran and Pakistan coming closer strategically and economically. Now who does not want that to happen?
KKD
March 4, 2013 8:43 pm
More than 18500 Sinnies were killed in 2011. No one cried for them.
G.A.
March 4, 2013 8:34 pm
But why these attacks against Shias now? These militant groups have been around a long time. Why this sudden upsurge and intensity? Is it because of the up coming elections? Or is it an attempt to show Shia Iran that it is isolated on all frontiers amongst Sunni countries?
Shahid Yusuf
March 4, 2013 8:49 pm
We know who they are LEJ, we know about them from india attack and in quetta.Question is why our civilian government is scared to have them killed or arrested? Please allow our army to wipe those basrtard out. Otherwise they will use one more bomb somewhere in our country, or city. I feel sorry for Shia brothers, how they can sleep at night? If we will not do anything then the whole country will have sleep less night.
Indian friend
March 4, 2013 4:08 pm
'What exactly has been done to find, prosecute and shut down the groups that have perpetrated previous major attacks, in Karachi and elsewhere?' I hope the author of this article also means to include the perpetrators of Mumabi attacks when he refers to 'elsewhere'. National and cross-border honesty and integrity only can help Pakistan come out of this nightmare of a rut otherwise the dark abyss of complete failure stares in the eyes of this nation.
Alan
March 4, 2013 1:22 pm
Unless you openly address the ideology driving those people, you will get nowhere. Otherwise you can wait until the ideology wears off, but this can take a long time, especially in countries where the ideology of the terrorists have a strong resonance in the general population.
Mr singh
March 4, 2013 3:02 pm
shame
Iftikhar Husain
March 4, 2013 12:51 pm
There are no words to express the sorrow we are feeling on this horrible act by the militants. The government machinery has totally failed to stop this murder of innocent people.The time has come to find a strategy to deal with this menace by sending paid people in them to finish them once for all. My thoughts are with all who are affected by this tragedy.
SP Bansal
March 4, 2013 3:29 am
This seems quite clear that these people have a general tendency of terror in their blood. They can't leave peacefully with their neighbours. Leave them and stop any peace process with them .
AHA
March 5, 2013 3:15 am
That is the only way out - if at all.
mazharuddin
March 5, 2013 5:51 am
Need sense of realization by writers and those having comments that there is basic need to address root causes of extreme hatred which is due to extreme religious activities at public places and misuse of media by relaying suspicious and hateful material with also denying the right to others to submit their view. Also hatred increasing due to one side view being produced, the reporting should be just with having both side view. Secondly all terrorist activities should be dealt honestly both sides activists should be brought to justice. This faction to be crushed with iron hand who involved burning public transport, trucks and other transport. They must be brought to justice. Further no religious group should have freedom to stage sit in and disturb citizens movements. It is noticed that people show their irritation on comments and articles that have solid reasons, logic and evidence. We are not living in prehistoric era but living in 21st century and believe should be in truth not in fiction and falsehood. All religious matters should be discussed in public enable people understand truth and come in one fold.
Go Go Go Intensive
March 5, 2013 9:57 am
We aim to take you much further than the minimum test standard during your 5 day intensive course. You will be confident, safe and embrace continual improvement with our teaching methods., great post
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