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Sudden awakenings

Updated Sep 01, 2013 03:02pm


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Imagine this: A country ravaged by religious extremism and violence. Its people elect a government that for five years (while in opposition) wagged its finger at the previous government for failing to curb and control this violence.

Then, after winning a handsome majority in the election, the new government’s prime minister appears on TV to deliver his first address to the nation.

This is what he says: ‘It is only now that we (the new government) realised how grave and complicated the situation (regarding terrorism) really is’.

You hear him say this and you wonder: What on earth were these guys wagging their fingers for? Were they not in the country for the past five years?

Quite the contrary. Not only were they running things in the Punjab Assembly, they had also faced a spate of extremist violence in the province that they had managed to win in the 2008 election.

That is, before the Punjab chief minister (who is once again the province’s CM), almost pleaded to the extremists to spare Punjab because ‘they (the Punjab government) believed in the same things as the extremists did.

This submissive plea did manage to make the extremists stop their attacks in the Punjab. However, elsewhere, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Sindh and Balochistan, the bloodshed and the madness unleashed by the supposedly banned extremist and sectarian outfits continued unabated.

Nevertheless, what was once just a provincial government in the Punjab has mostly become the new national government. The Punjab CM can continue to ward off extremist attacks by suggesting that his government stands for the same things as the faithful brutes do, but the rest of Pakistan is not willing to go down the same apologetic and submissive road.

The last government in Islamabad and its allies in the KP, Sindh and Balochistan had suffered an unprecedented volley of deaths and violence at the hands of the extremists.

And yet its (albeit chaotic) response to the violence was carelessly and cruelly criticised by opposition parties, especially the PML-N, the PTI and Jamaat-i-Islami.

The previous government’s chaotic conduct was milked to the hilt by the opposition and its overt sympathisers in the private electronic media, enough for the nation to vote for the PML-N (in the centre and Punjab) and PTI (in KP) in the May 11, 2013 election.

Both PML-N and PTI insisted that they had the right understanding and answers to all the ills being faced by Pakistan, especially regarding extremist violence, the energy crises and the struggling economy.

But as far as the overbearing spectre and experience of extremist and sectarian violence is concerned it now seems that both these parties were chasing illusions created by empty theories and concoctions built upon a stunningly half-baked and superficial understanding of the issue of religious extremism and terrorism in Pakistan.

A respected English weekly recently reported how PTI chief Imran Khan was perturbed when a string of officials in KP gave him a detailed presentation on the make-up of extremist organisations operating from the province.

He was told that there were more than 40 outfits that were functioning under the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) umbrella. This seemed to have surprised him.

But all that has been baffling men like Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan recently in this regard was not only being reiterated by the previous government, but also by a string of well-grounded newspaper reporters, columnists and even some TV anchors for quite some time now.

Were the Sharifs and Khan reading Naseem Hijazi novels when they should have been taking notes from what a number of Pakistani as well as some foreign journalists had been informing the public regarding the make-up, agenda and operational modus operandi of the extremist and sectarian organisations in Pakistan?

In their ignorance, not only did PML-N and PTI lead the country astray and confused it on the issue of extremist violence, it now seems they ended up believing in their own delusions.

And today here we are, with new governments in Islamabad, Balochistan and the KP demonstrating a shocked and almost numb look after suffering over 50 terrorist attacks within a matter of two months.

This is cause for concern. We now have in power governments at the centre, Punjab and KP whose elaborate theories — about how things like drone attacks and military presence in Waziristan are the main cause for extremist violence — are being blowing to pieces and sounding more naïve than ever.

We are seeing men in top governmental positions wringing their hands after realising the true nature of what this country is really up against.

I am convinced that an experienced man like Nawaz Sharif is more than likely to finally come to terms with what he seems to have been suddenly made to realise.

His government should wipe away that dropped-jaw look, roll up its sleeves and get down to first fully understand the complexities of extremist violence in this country and then actually do something about it — instead of continuing to air the flowery baloney (both PML-N and PTI) have been feeding an unsuspecting but terror-struck populace.

And about time Khan too allows his ego to shift and make room for the kind of vital information that may actually humble his otherwise haughty demeanour. He is still an important player, considering that his party runs the government in war-torn KP.

If he refuses to accept the fact that his theories regarding extremist violence have now started to sound ill-informed and based on woolly assumptions, then he is bound to end up on the wrong side of history. Not a very glorious side to be on for a very glory-loving man.


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Comments (58) Closed

AbbasToronto Sep 01, 2013 09:46am

The politicians are a race apart.

Some 20 years ago in the Province of Ontario (Canada) the Liberals upon taking power lamented that they were stunned to see how bad economy really was under the Tories. They set themselves up for failure because in fact they had no clue how to improve the economy. They made the already bad situation worse. Fortunately it was a minority, the government fell, with new elections.

Hapless public threw them out, electing the leftist New Democratic Party who lamented that they were stunned to see how bad economy really was under the Liberals. They set themselves up for failure because in fact they had no clue how to improve the economy. They made the already bad situation worse. Fortunately it was a minority, the government fell, with new elections.

Plus ca change

Aakashvaani Sep 01, 2013 10:40am

@AbbasToronto: Aha, its you again, the Canadian purveyor of the Islamic caliphate, lecturing the old country about the dajjali liberal democracy and the Unislamic finance. How do you live with your self, I wonder! Surely the dichotomy must make it hard to sleep, if not the hypocrisy.

Feroz Sep 01, 2013 12:30pm

When the problems are grave a good Politician will feed Opium to the masses, when both become deluded, the issues of importance will stay out of the picture. What happens to the country in the meantime is another matter.

Sonal Sep 01, 2013 12:52pm

While I hope that the PTI and PML-N will fully understand and tackle the terrorist threat, isn't what you described in your article true of most claims that parties make during campaigning? It applies to health, education, electricity, general economic growth - everything.

Desi surfie Sep 01, 2013 12:55pm

@AbbasToronto: You really have no clue...How funny are you.

Raj Sep 01, 2013 02:32pm

Give them some time mate. They only had two months. On one hand you point out how dire the situation is and on the other you want them to snap their fingers and make every thing good.

As for their expressing ignorance and such like that's how politicians operates any where in the world.

And you have to give credit to Punjab CM for doing what ever necessary to reduce terrorism incidents in his province compensating for a completely incompetent, corrupt and totally toothless governance provided by PPP

It is the results that count not talk!

Asif Sep 01, 2013 02:34pm

No mate, Khan was not reading "Nassem Hijazi" novels , but he knew the complicated situation the country was put in and he was stressing from day 1 that the policy is not right. The mess the PP led coalition has made will take time my friend, be patient. Now that KP is under his government lets what will be deliver. People like you rather then criticizing the policies of the previous government were praising it, so why are you moaning about now?

irfanzone Sep 01, 2013 02:49pm

I guess Rommel said that once i read the names of my generals i wish my enemies tremble as much as i do ...... Same feeling when i look up the names of clueless leaders entrusted by a hapless populace to lead us across this mess

Batool Rizvi Sep 01, 2013 02:53pm

It's about time, PMLN and PTI, apologize to PPP, and give them the credit to put up with the extremists and opposing them at the same time, unlike their opposing parties. I think the solution is quite simple ( or I might be naive), everyone should own up their mistakes, give credit where its's due, and get together to save Pakistan, regardless of our political affiliations. This is the last chance to save Pakistan, and we don't have time for political point scoring.

SHAFIQ KHAN Sep 01, 2013 03:36pm

It is very interesting to see your piece on the performance of the present governments in the country. I am not fond of any in the present governments nor I was fond of any of the previous lot. My interest lies with the issues and difficulties faced by the people in the country. On the terriorist issue the ppp government distinguish itself by incompetence and corruption. They blamed other political actors as much as other political actors blamed the government. It is not unusual or surprising that in oppositution political parties do not know the exact nature of the situation as they do once in power. The previous government did not exactly cover itself with glory . Their interior ministor was only distinguished for incompetence . He failed to move on any issue which he should have. What did he do the murder of his killed leader? What did he do re. Heping the kidnapping of the son of the murdered governor of the punjab? So nevermind the point scoring, the incompetence was the norm where ever you look. One hopes a few things will improve, well in all honesty the present Interior Minister is a mega change on the previous one. Then it will be pleasant change if the government emphasis is on governing rather than covering up their own criminality and blaming the higher judiciary. Yes the jury is out as it always should be on the performance of the government. We will all know how it affects the violence in the country. That is the acid test, which no gorernment fail to pass. Shafiq

Parvez Sep 01, 2013 05:29pm

Spot on . For Nawaz Sharif to see the light it will take someone strong to hold up his eye-lids and whisper in his ear ' Mian Sab, you are looking at............. and it does not look good ' For IK to see the light is difficult because he's in denial and when he sees it, it would be too late.

Shado Charya Sep 01, 2013 06:30pm

Since the 90's we in KHI have been suffering... so much so that we are now numb... I remember my inlaws from Quetta use to poke fun on me/KHI community (be it Mohajir or otherwise) that how are lives are... now the whole country is burning... Majority of Pak has to understand it will eventuallly come to their doors as well (if not already there)...

Bottom line, we are so many and they are few, tell them to live and let live or deal with them..... too muh is at stake here...

Malik Sep 01, 2013 06:39pm

it is so sad that all the media, all the police, all the provincial and federal machine has been politicized to the hilt, nothing true you can hear, nothing true can you see, every one is doing his job for how much he has been gratified or expects to be gratified and by whom like the above article. Not that new government is different than the previous, but the way this guy is absolving the previous government and its leaders doing horrendous things, is deplorable and reflects a corrupted and dirty mind. People have to read such articles, mark these names and at least protest.

Karachi Wala Sep 01, 2013 06:51pm

The hypocrite acts of the leaders mentioned by NFP has thrown the whole nation at the mercy of the murderers and vultures. These very leaders have been hiding their own faces in the sand thinking they will be spared. They must remember they will also be slaughtered by the very groups whose acts they have been protecting by making all sorts of lame excuses.

GJ Sep 01, 2013 07:42pm

hhmm... may be Mr Khan should be asked what happened to 100 day end of corruption rhetoric he gave..... :)

AHA Sep 01, 2013 07:44pm

Punjab has been the breading ground for religious extremism over the last many years, and PML-N has been governing Punjab over those years,

hadia Sep 01, 2013 07:45pm

NFP kindly give solution to the current terrorism problem faced by pakistan that would be fruitful in your opinion. the task is huge as the TTP has invaded the mentality of people of pakistan apart from all the bombings and killings. how can we protect our country from their invasion, the situation looks bleak.

Arifq Sep 01, 2013 08:06pm

Both political parties PMLN and PTI are responsible for providing Taliban/Religious extremist political space by failing to condemn their activities and having a policy of appeasement.

dada Sep 01, 2013 08:21pm

People are asking solution to terrorism in and commited by whatever is left after Bangalis separated from Pakistan in 1971. These people want to ignore the Arabi camel in the tent.

When the natives are made to take alien mideastern names, disown their own ancestors, language and culture then these original kids-of-the soil become rootless, always searching their identity in alien ideology and roots in alien lands. These rootless parasitic people can be easily programmed to be cannon fodder for fake alien ideologies to create empires for aliens. Jinah was culturally Anglo and Zia wanted the natives to be Arabs. Jinah's politics terrorized the native Hindu-Sikh. Liaqat, Bhutto, Zia's followers are terrorizing Ahmedi, Shia. and now Barelwi...

Indians are saying, "what goes of our Pitashree, both are trying to make natives rootless."

Masood Hussain Sep 01, 2013 08:31pm

Bravado NFP. You are the lone warrior The "lafafa" anchors had raised hell against the previous Govt.

YOUNUS AHMAD Sep 01, 2013 09:09pm


Faiza G.R. Bhatt Sep 01, 2013 09:12pm

enough of the blame game. can we now have the solution, option B, option C, etc.? is military action a good route? please note that terrorists live within us, are us. they are not like Afghanistan or any other territory that our military will go out and bomb out of this world. military and police are never trained to fight off terrorists.

over to you NFP. solutions, please? i am all ears now.

Faiza G.R. Bhatt Sep 01, 2013 09:13pm

@Asif: well said.

AMK Sep 01, 2013 09:53pm

@Faiza G.R. Bhatt: Please Read between the lines and you will see his proposed solution. The people in power like Sharif and Khan have to come out of the delusional state of mind and head on to wipe out this menace. There can't be any wishy washy response to the existence threatening monster staring in the face.

Hasan Sep 01, 2013 09:56pm

@dada: Oversimplified understanding/impression of events (as suggested by this article) is very seductive but can lead to disastrous results. Please grow up for your name's sake!

AR Sep 01, 2013 10:19pm

It seems approach adapted by the Shahbaz sharif is working well. He avoids challenging the wisdom of mad terrorists. At the same time building schools, colleges and economy which will ultimately limit or eliminate the space for extremists. If the so-called civilized world can call terrorists (in Syria) as freedom fighters why he cannot use some sloppy words to keep the scum away....

Em Moosa Sep 01, 2013 10:24pm

The governments of Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan have been designed to rule in Islamabad and KPK. The mother of all rigged elections have brought in these two leaders in the power of one of them is over clever and other is extremely un matured who has still not accepted that the war on the borders and inside the country are our own war not the American's. I do not have any hope of them at all. Our army whose command is in the hands of those generals who are only looking their safe retirements instead of realising that the country is in the dare trouble. They allowed five years to PPP who brought the country down and now the earlier tried and tested PML-N will bring more disasters. What would talking to Taliban give to the country who are the biggest enemy of Pakistan and Islam? They only want an independent piece of land to rule with their own designed un-Islamic sharia laws and that piece of land should be cut from Pakistan's territory. Can you give them that ? What do you think our religious parties (if they are truly religious) do not know the agenda of Taliban.

Em Moosa Sep 01, 2013 10:37pm

@AbbasToronto: Not only the event of 4th July, but do not forget the ads appeared in the UK's newspapers with the caption of "Rogue Army" while NS was himself in the power. Then hijacking the flight of his own Chief of army staff. Then attack on the supreme court. PML-N has a rich history of adventures. They do not have a single economist or some body with economical brain in their team. Ishaq Dar is a simple chartered accountant whose additional qualification is samdhi of Nawaz sharif and before this relation he was the chief accountant of NS's companies. How funny is that guy is running the business of finance minister of the country.

shan Sep 01, 2013 10:36pm

An excellent article! It was so easy for Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan to be naive when in opposition. But now in power both of them must face the hard truth and take some urgent and tough action to rectify the situation created by religious extremist!

Murtaza Sep 01, 2013 10:37pm

Thought provoking article for country fate.

skeptic Sep 01, 2013 11:55pm

A very well written article.We are among other things a victim of mediocrity of human resource in our institutions with the politicians being the worst of the lot. Though i am quite a supporter of Imran Khan but the criticism in this article is spot on.

AbbasToronto Sep 02, 2013 12:57am


The NFP piece is about poor governance, so stick to the topic. Maybe you will learn something from it to use it in your own corrupt leadership that has blown away a stellar 10% economy to below 4.4% and falling like a stone in water. Goodbye to call-centre economy, goodbye to Hindu Kaliphate.

There is no use to resort to the Nehru/Patel types personality attacks on Jinnah that split your country apart once, for it could do it again when Muslims become anew a sizeable minority (they are hitting 16% already and growing). I know you like divisions (e.g. castes) but would you want China to pick up your pieces as English did when you sided with them against your Muslim rulers?

If you can not field a rational argument, trying reading the Hindu or the Hindustan Times instead. Leave us alone to solve our problems our own way.

AbbasToronto Sep 02, 2013 01:02am

@Em Moosa

For all the faults of the previous PPP Zardari he never stood for divisive politics.

NS, the present day Muawiya and his gang who rule by deceit, will undo Pakistan faster than India could dream of. But then people get leaders they deserve. You can not blame this one on the Indians, or the Zionists, or the Americans.

Capt C M Khan Sep 02, 2013 01:33am

"In their ignorance, not only did PML-N and PTI lead the country astray and confused it". true...can be described in one words...INCOMPETENCE. There is a proverb in English" Let the barber cut hair and the tailor cut clothes". These two have no clue of ECONOMICS/SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY/ENVIRONMENT etc.One is a good cricketer and the other a local businessman, completely out of touch with the world of today. Good article NFP, keep on telling the truth few radicalized readers might be upset but there are others who can easily calculate that 2+2=4.

Tariq K Sami Sep 02, 2013 01:49am

Pakistan is paying the price of a civil war. It all started when Musharraf took that famous phone call. Now things may have gotten complicated with new actors in the fray. But then there are always unintended consequences that follow. To start a war is easy to get out of one is difficult. Imran Khan and Nawaz Sherrif did not create this mess. So why are you acting so smart and saying things like you think they do not know. I am sure they know more than you do. I also think they are capable and wise.

khayambeg Sep 02, 2013 01:52am

Mr confused khan is messing his party with ill -assumptions.. at least for the nations sovereignty and security he really need to put aside his ego and to come with a clear cut policy... #talks with #beasts is impossible .. Treat and crush them with mighty sword.. they understand the language of fear/power not of words of talk and peace

pathanoo Sep 02, 2013 02:30am

You can't keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result i.e. elect corrupt people like Nawaz Sharif who is known in Pakistan as "FUNDO" meaning a fundamentalist. Then there is Imran Khan whose ego is bigger than Himalaya. Imran is a man who is a LEGEND IN HIS OWN MIND. An inexperienced man who is more hot air than any thing else. These two have breathlessly pilloried the previous administration of Zardari for not tackling the terrorist problem and promised they knew how to handle it and if given a chance they would . As soon as they got in power they started giving excuses no one believes. But then, why did you believe them ? Are you stupid?

Murtaza Sep 02, 2013 02:46am

@Em Moosa: In addition to that he orchestrated the money laundering for NS.

Agha Ata Sep 02, 2013 04:32am

Some of the best leaders, we have, seem to have no imagination, no farsightedness beyond next Thursday, impulsive, and please themselves by saying something that even they never thought of before and which proves to be wrong before the week ends. And they also believe no one is watching, no one remembers, not even Nadeem F Paracha. :)

SATISH SHARMA Sep 02, 2013 06:58am

Nadeem, You are just bent on being wrong (or guarded) this week.

Shariff's didn't just plead with "taliban" .. they made a deal - we won't bother you .. you don't bother us -- so suddenly there was peace in Punjab and mayhem elsewhere.

Imran didn't know how many Taliban groups were operating in KP -- i do believe it - his ability to understand anything is rather compromised. His wants to promote "cricket talent" search in KP and tribal areas and divert restless yooooots -- brilliant, simply brilliant. .. introduction of Jirga system (that works) vs. Western Law (that's so corrupt) in settled areas to be modeled after the Tribal areas is also worth kudos galore.

Omer Sep 02, 2013 08:00am

@Em Moosa: The terrorists have no agenda other than to bleed and destablise Pakistan. They are not interested in Islam or Islamic system. These paid agents have been assigned a specific task: to destabilise Pakistan to the limit where it, God forbid, implodes. The sooner the nation and those at the helm of affairs realise this, the better it is!

dr vimal raina Sep 02, 2013 08:52am

PM and IK to TTP ...aap to aisey na theey.

AbbasToronto Sep 02, 2013 08:58am

@Tariq K Sami

The Civil War did not start with Musharraf. It started with the Kaliphate 1,400 years ago and was shelved 250 years later.

It has restarted anew because the word is Globalization and Free trade for which the natural religion is Quranic/Mohammedan Islam, not Kaliphate Islam. The issues swept under the carpet can be no more.

The Civil War will end with triumph of Mohammedan Islam over all others

AbbasToronto Sep 02, 2013 09:06am


Ever heard of Faust? Dealing with the Devil is never profitable.

DrTK Sep 02, 2013 09:05am

After Swat, and the mayhem that they caused in the rest of the country, is it so hard to understand that the Taliban is a cult? A Death Cult, that exults in ritual human killing and blood in the most gruesome way, almost orgasmic way; that has gleefully adopted Wahabi Islam as a front. How about Imran Khan pay them a little courtesy call in Waziristan?

RK Sep 02, 2013 10:14am

@AbbasToronto: Chacha ji apne desh aa Joao.....we will appoint you as the PM

FJ Siddiqui Sep 02, 2013 12:16pm

@skeptic: Why can't we critique in a positive tone? Why we need to be so bitter and harsh? Why we try to hurt egos, making it even difficult to make the point across? I have read somewhere:

A true revolutionist is filled with the passion of love

This language doesn't reflect love, instead just inciting emotions on both sides of the table.

FJ Siddiqui Sep 02, 2013 12:19pm

Why can't we critique in a positive tone? Why we need to be so bitter and harsh? Why we try to hurt egos that makes it even difficult to make the point across? I have read somewhere:

A true revolutionist is filled with the passion of love.

This language doesn't reflect love, instead just inciting emotions on both sides of the table.

Nauman Sep 02, 2013 12:55pm

@AbbasToronto: "If you can not field a rational argument, trying reading the Hindu or the Hindustan Times instead. Leave us alone to solve our problems our own way."

I thought Islam has no borders and does not discriminate in any way. How come a change of stance and view now?

Praveen Sep 02, 2013 04:16pm

@AbbasToronto: "The NFP piece is about poor governance, so stick to the topic."

Look who is talking.

observer Sep 02, 2013 04:51pm

@AbbasToronto: Spineless Sharif (the same character who ran crying to the US President on a 4th of July weekend to complain about his own Army has no clue how a modern economy works.

Before this happened, another invertebrate Person had run to Beijing. And from Beijing this Person was heard denouncing his own soldiers as non-state terrorists. When the heat mounted, Sharif had to act to rescue the hapless soldiers.

Read it all here, by a Pakistan Army Brigadier, no less.

Capt C M Khan Sep 02, 2013 06:03pm

@AbbasToronto: "The Civil War will end with triumph of Mohammedan Islam over all others

farideh zivary Sep 02, 2013 09:31pm

@AHA: How smart of you.The bhatta khors of Karachi,the BLA,The tribal area Taliban are all Punjabis.

farideh zivary Sep 02, 2013 09:36pm

@Masood Hussain: We need to bring back PPP so they can solve our problems once again.5 years was not enough time.These guys Nawaz and IK have been in power for 93 days and still no solutions.No wonder Piracha is unhappy.

Em Moosa Sep 02, 2013 09:46pm

@YOUNUS AHMAD: What is left to be failed!!! Sep 02, 2013 10:43pm


There have always been Muslims who did not favour creation of Pakistan. Your Kargil account is one point of view from this group, so is Sharif party.

If I have to choose between a secular patriot of Musharraf and a Kaliphate loving Sharif, I will prefer the former. Musharraf is sincere even when he opposes you, Sharif is untrustworthy even when he displays a big smile of friendship.

An intelligent foe is better than a foolish friend. Indians beware. This BIg Business Sharif will do to Pakistan what Reaganomics/Thatcherism has done to India - short spike in growth followed by long never ending slide (it is already at 4.4% in India). And the poor and the weak never make peace.

AHA Sep 03, 2013 04:55pm

@farideh zivary: I agree that Taliban are mostly not Punjabis, and they are also religious extremists. But I was talking the mass production of religious extremists, and Punjab has the number 1 spot there.

MQM, PPP and ANP are not religious extremists.

BLA are freedom fighters, fighting for their rights against a tyrant state - they are out of scope for this discussion.

Dahir Sep 04, 2013 01:55am

@AbbasToronto: You missed qarmatians, the green grocers of Bahrain