Monday, March 28, 2016

Pakistan, Failed State

"We are in a warlike situation and there is always a general threat but no specific threat alert was received for this place [Lahore's Gulshan-e-Iqbal park]."
Lahore Police Chief Haider Ashraf

"Our goal is not only to eliminate terror infrastructure but also the extremist mind-set, which is a threat to our way of life."
"We must take this war to the doors of [these] terrorist groups. God willing, we will wipe out them out."
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif 
Women try to comfort a mother who lost her son in bomb attack in Lahore, Pakistan. The death toll from a massive suicide bombing targeting Christians gathered on Easter in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore rose as the country started observing a three-day mourning period following the attack.
K.M. Chaudary / AP   Women try to comfort a mother who lost her son in bomb attack in Lahore, Pakistan. The death toll from a massive suicide bombing targeting Christians gathered on Easter in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore rose as the country started observing a three-day mourning period following the attack.

Pakistan has a long way to go before any kind of stability can exist, in the presence of large demographics of fanatical Islamist hill tribes in its Northwest Frontier provinces which the central government traditionally has had little-to-no authority over. For years a general amnesty prevailed where the tribal Islamists agreed to keep their brand of Islam among themselves as long as the government kept its military out of the provinces. Even so, police and military outposts were often attacked.

When the fundamentalist Islamists of the Red Mosque in the middle of Islamabad finally wore out the government's patience over its ongoing attacks on shopkeepers in the capital whom they accused of defiling Islam with Western ways, a siege took place until the insurgents were neutralized, and that event appears to have been the catalyst that set off a permanent standoff between government and jihadi groups. The jihadi infiltration of the military and the Pakistani intelligence service was well known to support the Afghan Taliban.

And then, out of Pakistan was born the Pakistan Taliban, sharing all the fundamentals of al-Qaeda. The Mumbai attacks by the Pakistani jihadi group Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives and supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence gave ample evidence that Pakistan is a time-bomb of a Muslim country complete with nuclear arsenal, a country that arrested one of its citizens for complicity with the CIA in identifying the Abbottabad compound of Osama bin Laden.

Christians in Pakistan represent barely one percent of the population, and they have reason to live in fear of oppression. Christians have often been charged with blasphemy against Islam which can result in capital punishment. Even Christian children have been targeted by malevolent Muslims accusing them of blasphemy, of destroying Korans, or speaking ill of the Prophet Mohammad. Little wonder then, in the prevailing atmosphere of Christians being under threat throughout the Islamic world that an atrocity of the dimensions of the Lahore bombing took place.

An estimated 70 people killed, 300 wounded at a seasonal Easter family outing that gripped both Muslim and Christian communities in the path of Islamist violence turned tragic. Many of the wounded remain in critical condition and the Punjab government is calling for residents to donate blood. According to authorities who denied Christians were targeted more Muslims than Christians were killed and injured. They cite 14 Christians and 44 Muslims and 9 unidentified among the dead. Among the dead were 29 children.

The I.D. card of the suicide bomber was found in the debris, identifying the man as Muhammad Yousaf Farid, born in 1988. Over half of the wounded 300 were taken to Jinnah Hospital where 67 remain hospitalized some with serious burns and shrapnel wounds. Two small children, their beds with signs "unknown", since the adult members of their family died in the blast and links with other relatives have not yet been made.

This dreadful event comes days after thousands of Pakistani Muslims demonstrated to protest the execution of the trusted bodyguard of Punjab's governor Salmon Taseer who was assassinated by that bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, in 2011. Pakistan's deadly discriminatory and antiquated laws on blasphemy were questioned by Governor Taseer. The governor's very public support of a young Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who had been accused of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammad and imprisoned, as well as his support for women's rights in Pakistan gained him many enemies.

After Mumtaz Qadri was arrested for the murder of Salmon Taseer, he was popularly acclaimed as a hero. He had popular support among fundamentalist Pakistanis who deplored the governor's support of Asia Bibi, a Christian, and accused Mr. Taseer of being un-Muslim. After Governor Taseer's death, 500 Pakistani clerics supported his assassination, and they placed a fatwa on attendance for his funeral by the faithful.

Salman Taseer    Asia Bibi with Salman Taseer  Photo: AP
 
The military was deployed to protect government buildings after the protesters rampaged across the city, damaging property and setting buildings on fire.



Supporters of Mumtaz Qadri hold an effigy of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a protest against Qadri's execution in Karachi. Qadri, a police officer, was convicted for killing a governor who had proposed modifying a law against insulting Muhammad. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)


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