So then: to this now – by Kamran Shafi

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

The out-of-control and rampaging terrorists are now down to attacking the Jamaat Khanas of the most peaceful, philanthropic, tax-paying, law-abiding community of Pakistan: the Ismailis. Just a day after Eid, 38-year-old Shirin and her four-year-old son Sharmil died in an attack on the Karimabad Jamaat Khana and 44 others sustained injuries, some surely life-threatening. A standing ovation to the brave warriors who target innocent women and children.

Recall those of you who want to face facts that His Highness Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, Aga Khan III, after whom we have named roads in Lahore and Karachi, was a founder-member and then first president of the All-India Muslim League and was one of the first to petition the British government to consider Muslims as a distinct nation in India.

His grandson, the elegant Prince Karim Aga Khan has done more philanthropic work in Pakistan than any other single person or institution, setting up the peerless Aga Khan University, which among other institutions, runs the Aga Khan Hospital and Medical College in Karachi, extending his work to the Northern Areas, including Chitral, which has brought much prosperity to those backward parts of our country.

Going back in time, it was none other than HH Aga Khan II, who gifted his house in the expensive Akasaka area in downtown Tokyo to Pakistan as its embassy. His various generosities to the country were great and unbounden, and this is what we do to his followers? Kill a woman and her child in a Jamaat Khana, which also serves as a community centre. Shame on us, sirs.

So typical, actually, and in keeping with our penchant of turning away friends and those who would wish us well; and clasping to our breasts the worse of the lot, be they the ‘good’ Taliban; heartless takfiri murderers; coldblooded and callous Salafi executioners, you name it. And so we go playing with fire and letting the murderers get stronger still.

Look at what happened at the police funeral in Quetta the other day, and again a day before Eid this time: 34 policemen, among them some good and senior police officers getting blown up with scores injured. I was recently in Quetta with an HRCP mission and met one of the SPs, who too was killed: a smart, bright young man who produced data we had asked for in the quickest time and who was most forthcoming on what was actually going on in that murderous province. Indeed, we met the good IG Sukhera and Mir Zubair the CCPO, both mercifully spared injury.

As always, the spokesman for the TTP has claimed responsibility in a mobile phone call to newspapers, TV stations, etcetera. The question to ask here is why it has not been possible for our security agencies to trace the number when they have extremely accurate and advanced and very, very expensive equipment for the task; and get to the very heart of the TTP?

Many of us repeatedly asked the question when it came to finding (and, hopefully destroying) Mullah Radio’s clandestine Swat FM radio during the benign rule of the Commando when the terrorists were killing peaceful Swati men, women and children and hanging their headless bodies upside down at Khooni Chowk in Mingora City. The radio daily broadcast lists of the people who were to be murdered with ‘extreme prejudice’ that same night. The host of the programme was always Muslim Khan, who was ostensibly ‘captured’ but has not been heard of for the last seven years.

But wait, there is a silver lining to all of this. It is said that the PM is upbeat and confident about the well-thought out steps his government is about to take to counter the ‘scourge’ as he called the terrorist menace in his speech on August 14. His interior minister, too, is showing a resolve one had not seen before: of either getting the murderers to lay down their weapons or face ‘all-out war’.

Many of you should be mystified why I have not yet touched upon the recent ceasefire line incidents in which both India and Pakistan are once more heaping blame, one upon the other. The media, the Indian media leading, and ours coming in a close second, has gone overboard as usual — kindly recall the six-month-old incident of the alleged ‘beheading’ of an Indian soldier with no proof whatsoever — which was blown up into a virtual war-like situation, the flames being principally fanned by, let us not be afraid to name it: Times Now, Pakistan-hater Arnab Goswami presiding.

NDTV, with the elegant and intelligent Barkha Dutt, was far more muted and even discussed the death of our Naik Afzal of Chakwal and grave injuries to a Pakistani jawan when I brought up the matter. I had said then that there was no other way out but talks, talks and more talks between India and Pakistan. And visits, visits and more visits between the leaders of both countries.

I had even suggested at one of the Track-II meetings that in addition to the hotline between the DGMOs, there should be direct and secure telephones between the Pakistan and Indian PMs and COASs; that they should be frequent visitors to each other’s countries; meet for lunch now and again and talk over the latest actions that destabilise relations along the Line and the border.

I did not talk about this grave matter first, because it IS the terrorist who has the most to gain by soured relations between these two nuclear-armed neighbours, so that their own project to destabilise the region is achieved. But even here, there is a ray of hope: the warmongers on this side should understand that the PM contested the elections on two main planks: the improvement of the economy and friendship with our neighbours. The people voted him in with a large majority, which means (and please UNDERSTAND) this gentlemen, they agree with him.

So, enough of your antics. Fall into proper ranks and help the constitutionally elected government.

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