The last rites
So where do we go from here? The ‘shaheed’ and the ‘injured’ compensation packages have been announced, a three day mourning has been declared, revenge for ‘every drop of blood’ has been sworn, the politicians have said all the right words, shed all the tears and a firm resolve has been made for a millionth time to destroy all militants. Hurriedly we have also arrived at a consensus to revamp our security arrangements and make them yet more foolproof. The Prime Minister has already stated that this was an attack on his own children. Of course he did not mean his real children who live in London.
So what would be the contours of our new resolve. As a starter, will we place rush orders for more bullet-proof vehicles – say one for every bureaucrat, two for every parliamentarian and three for every minister? ‘Reasoning 101’ tells us that they are the most vulnerable section of our society. Will the police deputed for the security of VIPs in Karachi, a meager 30 % of the total police force, be doubled? Will the peaceful parliamentarians holding merely 69473 prohibited bore weapons be supplemented with a new tranche of another 69,000 licenses? Will the Prime Minister bestow the highest award for ‘innovative proliferation’ on the Chairman Pakistan Ordinance Factories for his efforts to promote automatic weapons amongst civilians? And finally will the criminal proceedings be initiated against all those who “say no to guns’ and insist on creating a peaceful and tolerant Pakistan?
One did not have to wait for a Peshawar to happen. The writing was always there on the wall. Between ‘changing now’ or dying a prolonged, painful and humiliating death, we have repeatedly opted for the latter. Will it be any different this time? Is there a small window of escape still open to extricate ourselves from the quagmire that we have voluntarily walked into? We need to build massive and collaborative public pressure to demand action on the first five prerequisites for peace in Pakistan.
The current set of leaders do not have the will, inclination or the intellectual capacity for any meaningful change. As a first step, the leadership of Pakistan i.e. the PM, the KPK Chief Minister and the Sindh CM must voluntarily resign. The first two for failure to protect the people, the minorities and the children of Pakistan. The third for having long outlived his shelf-life and for destroying the peace and progress of his province.
With 20 million uncontrolled weapons in the hands of individuals and private militias, the tragic events of Peshawar may just be a preview of things to come. Pakistani leaders have failed to understand the link between weapons, militancy and survival thus reducing Pakistan to a medieval and tribal society. While Article 256 of the constitution prohibits all private militias, Pakistan has at least 5000 operational private armies of different shapes and sizes. Most of these are operated by the rich and the powerful who behave as if Pakistan is an extension of their private plantations. Most private militias are stronger and better equipped than the police in those areas. It is for this reason that the parliamentarians must be the first to be disarmed. Possession, carriage and display of all weapons by all individuals, regardless of their rank and status must be completely banned and the army be given the task of cleaning up weapons from the entire country.
Thousands of Illegal, unregistered, foreign, fake and numberless vehicles roam our streets with complete impunity. They are the ones which carry weapons and engage in crimes. Almost every act of crime and terrorism can be linked with one such vehicle. All the king’s men and all the king’s horses have not been able to curb this crime which can be spotted by a half-blind person from half a mile. Most such vehicles belong to the rich and the powerful and the police is too scared to check these thugs. Regrettably, till the police is liberated from the clutches of the politicians, this task too must be given to the army.
With over fifty million illegal SIMs in use, Pakistan is the choicest haven for terrorists. Our leaders despite repeated reminders have not understood the linkage between militancy and untraceable SIMs. All such SIMs need to blocked and allowed to operate only when they have been made traceableto a specific individual, CNIC, biometric impressions, and complete postal address. Telecos that fail to comply must be closed down.
We have no reason to keep FATA as a Wild West territory exclusive to tribes and the terrorists. It needs to be brought under the complete control of the state and administered in the same manner and the same laws as any other province.
We are fast nearing the end of the road. This deathly inertia would not go away without a collective push from the citizens. We well understand that all coffins are carried with a heavy heart, but the smallest coffins are the heaviest to carry. Let us let our children live.