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Exploded myths, tattered narratives

June 13, 2011

I WILL regret to my dying day watching the video clip of the unarmed young man shot by our brave Sindh Rangers in Karachi a few days ago.

I am in my 66th year, and have seen my younger brother pass away at the age of 21; my beloved grandmother who brought me up; loving and loved aunts and uncles, parents, even good friends pass on to the Great Beyond.

Whilst I wept my heart out when my brother died in a mountaineering accident, never have I cried as I did seeing the way Sarfaraz Shah was shot at point-blank range and then left to die. yaar

I will never forget his plaintive cries to the people standing around to “please take me to the hospital , please take me to the hospital, for God's sake”. He would then lie down on the ground and writhe in pain, and then sit up again to repeat his request, all the while pleading, pleading … then lie down again, moaning until he turned his body one more time and died.

Not one of the people present there, not the Rangers one of whose number shot him, not the onlookers, no one stepped forward to give the boy some succour; no one encouraged him to hang in there, lift him up and take him to the nearby Ziauddin hospital where his bleeding might have been staunched and his poor life saved.

What in the world has happened to us? What an ugly and a brutish people we have become with not an iota of humanity left in us. For this is hardly the first instance of wanton killing we have seen: Balochistan and the weekly targeted killings there, most notably of the liberal-minded and hugely popular Prof Saba Dashtiari who was gunned down by masked men two weeks ago … Saleem Shahzad … Sialkot … police encounters every so often … what is this now? The killing fields of Pakistan?

And what does our intrepid interior minister have to say? Before My Lord the Chief Justice took notice, Rehman Malik in his inimitable style pronounced the boy a thief and a robber. Recall please that we heard no such denunciation from the government of the two Pakistanis killed by Raymond Davis in Mozang, Lahore (who were armed, and threatened Davis — as testified to by eyewitnesses — before he shot them) and which resulted in an international incident.

Selective morality and hypocrisy is what we have an abundance of, not one of Their Holinesses, not my friend Imran Khan coming out to condemn the most brutal murder of Sarfaraz Shah, surely because this, let me say it again, unarmed young man was killed by Pakistan's security forces and those two men by an American. Shame on us.

And another thing: those two Lahori men's next of kin were given compensation of millions of rupees for the deaths of their loved ones; who will pay compensation to Sarfaraz Shah's poor parents? We know also, that if at all some compensation is paid, it will be a niggardly sum, nowhere near that shelled out to the families of the men shot by Davis.

For sheer brass, nothing can hold a candle to the press release of the ISPR on the conclusion of the corps commander's conference, now also referred to as The Forum. Indeed, so brash was the tone that a former chief of army staff has written an article in a section of the English press which surely will find its translated way into the Urdu papers too, pointing out that “it would be wrong to consider this statement as signal for ill-considered hasty actions”. shaadi-ghars bias

Well no wonder Gen Karamat has been trotted out to say the army is not about to mount a coup d'état, for the statement is belligerent and aggressive. Witness: “some quarters, because of their perceptual biases, were trying to deliberately run down the Armed Forces and Army in particular”. I beg The Forum's pardon, but what in heaven's name is a 'perceptual' bias? If a citizen's perception differs with the general staff's when it comes to, say, running bakeries and out of officers' messes, is that a against the army? put an end to it put an end

Look at this: “Any effort to create divisions between important institutions of the Country is not in our national interest. The participants agreed that all of us should take cognisance of this unfortunate trend and .”Of course it is true that there should be no divisions between our institutions of state but will the army decrease the size of its looming shadow that hovers over all aspects of decision-making in this country's foreign and security policies? What other way is there to to it other than dragging the perceived offender before a summary military court?

Gentlemen, the army's image will only improve when you begin to respect the ordinary people of Pakistan; when you co-opt us in defending our country, indeed when you stop the commercial activities that have polluted our cantonments and made it easy for terrorists to target our soldiers and their poor families as happened in the army bakery blast in Nowshera.

Also it is reprehensible that Nawaz Sharif is being singled out for the harshest criticism by known supporters of the Deep State for speaking out about the immediate and urgent need for civilian control over the armed forces and their agencies. One has to admire his courageous stand when he says there should be no holy cows, and that the constitution should be held supreme over every single institution of state.

Let me say at the end that it is very bad news indeed that two bomb-making factories in North and South Waziristan escaped punishment because the terrorists were warned by their moles before Pakistani forces got to the factories. Remember, gentlemen, that Pakistanis too are being killed by the hundreds every week by these beasts. And that the war against terror is our war too. So get your act together and then watch us lay Pakistanis give you more support than you need. For, you are ours, are you not?