When pushed into a corner, desperate people will resort to desperate measures. In a macabre confirmation of the success of the ongoing Karachi operation, terrorists carried out a heinous attack against the Ismaili community on May 13, leaving at least 45 dead. Speaking fluent Urdu and wearing police uniform, the attackers of the ill-fated bus left leaflets at the scene with derogatory remarks condemning the Ismailis as “apostates”. “Jundullah” which only last November announced their allegiance to the “Islamic State”, claimed the atrocity.
Building on their phenomenal success in Swat and FATA, the armed forces turned inwards helping the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) target terrorists (and their infrastructure) deeply embedded in the vast urban hinterlands of Pakistan. Addressing a recent seminar in Karachi, Corps Commander Karachi Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar said that “the “Karachi Operation will be taken to its logical conclusion” by “not sparing terrorists, their facilitators, target killers and extortionists, white collar terrorists and their facilitators and logistics providers will also be eliminated.” He reiterated a well-known hometruth, “the Sindh police and administration should be free from political interference and hiring should be apolitical and merit- based. Law and order problems have been complicated by political and administrative inefficiency.” In this telling public statement, Naveed Mukhtar emphatically called the politicians and political governments “incompetent and failures”, going on to say “we are living in defining times and failure is not an option. We must act decisively and wholeheartedly to translate our policies into meaningful and coordinated tangible measures that can lead to a stable environment secure from fear, extremism and militancy with a firmly established writ of state and rule of law.” With political bosses in power in official positions creating hurdles for the Army, will this attempt at frustrating plans to eradicate the basis of terrorism trigger a much needed “final solution” by the Army? Certainly, if Zardari attempts political confrontation to save his hide!
“Almost every political party uses militant muscle in Pakistan as a self-defense mechanism to fend off its opponents,” said my article of May 7, 2015 “Diversionary Tactics Backfires,” “Harboring of militants for enforcing their own version of law is illegal but that is how feudal stay in power. With MQM, PPP and ANP the normal “suspects” for having militant wings in Karachi, did Gullo Butt of Model Town fame appear out of thin air? As weapons of offense and/or of subjugation to keep party recalcitrant in line, they cross the fail-safe line into criminality, depending upon their political bosses to keep them out of jail, and even if they are incarcerated, to provide them with five-star comfort. Potentially they are a Sword of Damocles over the heads of their political bosses if they turn State witness, e.g. Saulat Mirza, Zulfikar Mirza and the rumored 1500 page statement given by Uzair Baloch to the Dubai Police.”
The COAS Pak Army General Raheel Shareef described the surge in operations against terrorists and criminals apolitical, across the board and focussed on achieving peace in the country. Noting that RAW was whipping up terrorism in Pakistan, he vowed taking all measures to eradicate this scourge. Our intelligence agencies seem finally to comprehend the nature of the “hybrid warfare” being conducted against Pakistan from within Pakistan, influence, connections, media and corporate money being used to attack both the uniform and the ideological basis of the country.
Seriously delusional, PPP Chief Asif Ali Zardari farcically claimed that he was “completely satisfied” with the performance of his puppet Sindh Chief Minister, octogenarian Qaim Ali Shah, ruling out his resignation and/or imposition of Governor’s rule, “Sindh has never been more peaceful during any of the military regimes”. Commenting directly about Naveed Mukhtar’s statement, Zardari added snidely, “military officials were trained to be aggressive”. This reaction from the PPP was to be expected, after the MQM they are bracing themselves to be held accountable. PPP cannot wish away the Peoples’ Amn Committee (PAC), can the allegations of “ultimate insider” Zulfikar Mirza, once an all-powerful Home Minister in Qaim Ali Shah’s cabinet be brushed aside? In overseeing the PAC adding to Karachi’s killing fields, where did Mirza’s instructions emanate from? The sustained interrogation by the Rangers has uncovered a wealth of information implicating many across the political hierarchy (and country’s elite) from all the political divide. Almost all the ruling politicians in Sindh know that they have repeatedly crossed the failsafe line into criminality. Zardari unsuccessfully attempted getting the Army into a political controversy through SSP Rao Anwar’s “MQM-RAW connection” claim, simply meant to politicize the inherent criminality and thereby complicate sideline accountability. Such desperate measures cannot be possible without complicity of anti-Pakistani elements, have we forgotten the “Memogate Affair”?
Given the nexus between corruption, organized crime and terrorism, those facilitating terrorism are all equally culpable as those committing terrorism, regardless of whether they belong to religious factions, political parties or criminal gangs. Those providing political and legal support and media space to criminals are also guilty. Can the media target any financial institution for misdemeanors given they can disburse large advertising budgets? Conversely the financial institutions can target anyone they want to. Most corruption is politically facilitated, morphing into its own unique Karachi-specific version of organized crime. Without organized crime providing a platform, terrorism is not possible. Moreover it is now common across the world for terrorist attacks to be outsourced. That RAW has been engaged in terrorist attacks in Pakistan through proxies is not new nor news, neither is the fact that those doing their dirty work belong to any one political party. The complicity of “resident evil” with our external enemies has provided a convenient platform for terrorists of all ilk to operate. Some elite of the media (and some in corporate circles) are in this upto their necks, relying on “freedom of expression” to escape accountability. A fail-safe line must separate risking freedom of the country at the altar of “freedom of expression.”
Principles and standards for honesty and integrity must apply impartially because it is patently unfair to hold only civilians accountable and not target those in uniform. If we are to fight terrorism successfully, principles and standards for honesty and integrity must apply impartially. When such influence is combined with illegally acquired wealth, the power to subvert the course of justice force-multiplies. The present military hierarchy must sustain their excellent reputation, both professionally and personally, by holding accountable the handful of crooks in uniform who besmirched the uniforms they once wore (or may be wearing still). The time has come to hold everyone crossing the failsafe to criminality accountable.
The writer is a leading defense and political analyst of Pakistan. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org