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THE New Year has begun on a dark and ominous note for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, much like the last year ended. The killing of seven people, including six women, associated with an NGO operating in Swabi, is doubly confounding because it is not clear as yet why they were specifically targeted. Was it because the dead women were NGO workers or school teachers or because the organisation they were working for has been part of the effort to eradicate the polio virus in Pakistan? Such is the nature of the war against modernity by the militants that it is difficult to know, even after the event, why certain targets are selected. What it is, though, is frightening and almost certainly linked to an understanding of psychological warfare by the militants. When blowing up schools loses its shock value, they turn on teachers; when killing teachers loses its shock value, they turn on women. Much the same has happened with the attacks against polio vaccinators, where publicised threats have given way to murderous attacks on women. The louder the crime is amplified in the media, the better it suits the militants’ purpose.

The answer, though, is not to discourage publicity of the militants’ crimes against society but for society to respond in greater measure. Where is the outrage and anger against the militants? Where is the pressure on the state to reverse the decline of the public’s safety and security? A terrified but confused society has still not been able to generate from within the pressure that can help wilt the militant threat. Contrast this with the response to the Delhi gang rape victim: protests across India, a society responding to outrage at the sickness within and a government scrambling to respond to citizen outrage. Here in Pakistan, it is the state that has in large part been responsible for the rise of militancy and the decline of security of the average individual. But powerful as the state may be, its raison d’être is to provide a better life for its citizenry. Civil society, and women’s groups in particular, must rise to confront the latest threat.

Comments (6) Closed

Aqil Siddiqi Jan 03, 2013 10:52pm
Our society is in coma. By the time they wake up, unfortunately, it be too late. We can not compare ourselves to Indians. They are a nation on rise, and we are a nation in decline. I am afraid, we might have seen the twilight last gleeming in Pakistan. Some time it forces people to think, that Jinnah made a huge mistake by creating Pakistan. Look all over Pakistan, do you see any hope, any smile or any glimmer of any sorts. All you see is death, corruption, injustice and despair. Aqil Siddiqi
Kamal Hussain Jan 03, 2013 06:50pm
"Here in Pakistan, it is the state that has in large part been responsible for the rise of militancy and the decline of security of the average individual." True. What took DAWN so long to realize what has been known for a long time? One must not exonerate the society - the people - for remaining silent. Hafiz Saeed - the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai carnage - remains free in spite of a $10 million bounty on his head (by the US) and the state of Pakistan refuses to take any action against him. I wonder whether DAWN has the courage to speak against Saeed.
atiqullah Jan 04, 2013 06:03pm
but in pakistan killing a innocent civilian is become daily routine how its compare with india
Syed Jan 03, 2013 06:10pm
Pakistani society mostly consisting of tribes, clans and communities, ruled, tortured and pressed for centuries by their waderas are still wait for go ahead signal from their masters. Hungry, naked, popper, homeless people are scared of state organs like police and civil administration and don't expect any mercy if their lords get annoyed. Rather they are scared of loosing what ever they have. It will take time for them to get out of this waderah syndrome, if we manage to get out of this waderah democracy.
Sundar Jan 03, 2013 05:23pm
very true
Iftikhar Husain Jan 03, 2013 12:46pm
Totally agree with the editorial.