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Peshawar Carnage

A suicide bomber blew himself up and took the lives of, as of writing this, 81 innocent civilians. It is one of the worse, inhumane, barbaric, cowardly act of terrorism on Pakistani soil. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, proudly claimed responsibility of this shameful, barbaric act, stating that this would continue if the United States did not stop drone strikes against Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives (read: terrorists).

Peshawar Carnage victim looks on in shock and disbelief after the blast at church.
Peshawar Carnage victim looks on in shock and disbelief.

The attack took place in a Church, on Sunday, when many church goers were packed into that place. The victims were ordinary human beings like you, and like me. Their tragic death shook the nation, and many mourned their deaths.

The Pakistani government did condemn the attack, but is still afraid of speaking out too much against these terrorists, and the government response stopped short of action against the terrorists to bring them before law. Both, the PML-N government at the center and the PTI government of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa failed to take any actions.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s, cold-blooded and indifferent attitude in the face of times when a person’s free will becomes their crime, their conscience becomes their sin and their presence at the wrong place at the wrong time becomes their punishment, horrifies many Pakistanis: many of those who voted for them in the 2013 general elections.

Why, one may ask, is the government so hesitant in condemning terrorism? The answer my lie in the fact that the PTI is too inclined towards the Taliban, promoting the banned terrorist outfit as “our people”, and has vowed to protect and shield them from a military operation by the Pakistan Army, or the US surgical Drone strikes, and the fact that the PML-N, a party whose leadership rose to prominence during the Zia-ul-Haq regime are too sympathetic to the extremists.

People voted for a “Change” and for the Sharifs, and here it is, though not quite the change they voted for.

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Living in a Terrorized Society

street-crimeBefore you start reading, bear in mind that I do not intend to rant out my grudges against the injustices of our society or deliver more and more bad news, but I do intend to explore the solutions to the injustices in our terrorized society.

My 2nd day at law school, in the first class of Criminal Law, a sentence caught my attention:

Missing persons… Extra judicial killings… so many fancy terms… You are living in a country where there are massive human rights abuses!

Ms. Abira Ashfaq, our criminal law lecturer was referring to the situation in Balochistan more particularly, and the whole country in general. Every day the newspaper headlines read “Missing persons found dead in Balochistan”, this is, quite sadly indeed, becoming the norm, just like street crimes, car lifting etc., became the so widespread and common, that after they had dominated the headlines for quite long enough, the newspapers decided they weren’t newsworthy any longer. The same is happening with Karachi’s issues of target killing on ethnic grounds and extortion.

beaten_upWe aren’t just terrorized by the Taliban in the North-Western region of Pakistan, but by Baloch separatists in the South-West, our own security and intelligence agencies who overstep their authority, street criminals and gangs in our major cities, and our very own political and politico-religious parties.

Laws exist to safeguard the people, their rights and liberties, but why haven’t our laws been effective enough in doing what they were supposed to do? The answer: no one follows the law. When I say no one, I do not just mean the criminals out there, this includes each and every single one of us. Every day, as I drove down the streets of Karachi, I see people driving down the wrong side of the road just to save a few meters of distance, stopping their cars over the zebra crossing if they stop their cars at all when the signal is red. It is quite the norm for people to talk on the phone while they drive, teenagers, under the legal age to drive, are quite often seen driving freely, some teens even text message each other while driving, breaking the law and putting their and others’ lives at stake.

Why does this all happen in our society? I believe this is because each and every one of us, deep down believes that the law does not apply to them. Pardon the lawmakers for a moment please, it’s not just them who believe themselves to be superior to the law. Our elected representative, whom we choose to make the law, believe themselves to be superior to the law, same is the mindset of the bureaucrats, law enforcement agencies and their families.

Lawlessness is deep-rooted in the Pakistani culture and society. We cannot hope to change our society without first changing ourselves. We have to change ourselves: refuse to accept the lawlessness, stand up to injustice, and fix ourselves before we move on to fix our society. As the saying goes:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

We have to hold ourselves accountable for our actions, keep a check on our lawmakers and those who have been entrusted with our security. To build Pakistan, and to rid it of lawlessness and injustices, we have to act!

You may also read my earlier post: An Assessment of Pakistan’s Human Rights Record.

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Talks with the Taliban? Think again!

The Right-wing political parties gained the upper hand in the May 11th 2013 General Elections in Pakistan; parties like the PML-N, PTI and JUI-F had massive popular support. The Left-wing, liberal parties like the PPP and the ANP suffered grave losses. With ‘Talks and Peace deals with the Taliban’ amongst their top agendas, these winning Right-wing parties were adamant on putting an end to Pakistan’s War on Terrorism: actually a War for wrestling control from the Taliban and establishing the writ and sovereignty of Pakistan on its North-Western territories.

The Afghan Taliban armed to the teeth with lethal weaponsTo the dismay of these political and politico-religious parties, the Taliban withdrew the peace offer after its second-in-command Waliur Rehman was killed by a US drone strike on Pakistani territory on 30th May 2013. Soon after the attack, Imran Khan, chief of the PTI, was seen on news channels telling the then MNA-elect Nawaz Shareef, now the Prime Minister of Pakistan, to either stop the drone strikes or shoot the drones down.

On 29th May 2013 a petition was filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which sought a declaration by the Supreme Court against negotiations by any person, civilian or military, with a forbidden private army waging war against Pakistan.

The petition was filed by Mr. Shahid Orakzai under the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction on the enforcement of fundamental rights, asked how could the armed forces propose a truce/ceasefire/end of hostilities to the rebels on the territory of Pakistan? The petitioner also asked whether a citizen was empowered by the constitution to negotiate peace with a private army waging war on Pakistan. However the Supreme Court Registrar Office had returned his petition by raising objections that he had no locus standi to file the petition.

Article 256 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan forbids and outlaws any private army within the territory of Pakistan:

256. Private armies forbidden.
No private organization capable of functioning as a military organization shall be formed, and any such organization shall be illegal.

The Taliban are a private army/rebel group, waging war against Pakistan since the beginning of the 21st Century, on Pakistani territory. They have killed and slaughtered over 50,000 Pakistani men, women, children, politicians and leaders, police officers and army officers; they have slain many social workers especially those working for the eradication of the Polio virus. The Taliban out rightly reject the democratic system of Pakistan, its legal system, sovereignty of the Parliament over the territories of Pakistan.

Regarding the activities of some politico-religious groups which support the Taliban and/or peace talks with them, Article 5 of the constitution of Pakistan clearly states the following:

5. Loyalty to State and obedience to Constitution and law.

  1. Loyalty to the State is the basic duty of every citizen.
  2. Obedience to the Constitution and law is the inviolable obligation of every citizen wherever he may be and of every other person for the time being within Pakistan.

Afthermath of a Taliban attack, sudide bombingUnder the provisions of Article 5 of the constitution, would it not be that, according to the constitution of Pakistan, any Pakistani keeping contacts with, communication with, aiding or abetting the rebels waging war against Pakistan, would be committing acts treason? Leaders of our winning political parties, Nawaz Shareef of PML-N, Imran Khan of PTI, Fazal-ur-Rehman of JUI-F, all have been in contact with the Taliban, our media who receive calls of Taliban’s spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan when he calls to proudly claim responsibility of terrorist activities his organization carries out, Imams of mosques in rural and urban areas of Pakistan who openly sympathize with these terrorists, are they all not guilty of treason? I do not intend to accuse anyone; interpretation of the Constitution is the responsibility of the Supreme Court, which recently failed to take up the above mentioned petition.

In the video below you can see what the Taliban does in the areas it controls. The video below shows extremely violent acts committed by the Taliban (decapitating humans), NOT suitable for children, those with a weak heart and certainly NOT for those who do not wish to watch it. Be advised.

UPDATE: The copy of this video hosted on Vimeo, earlier embedded here, was removed by Vimeo staff because “it depicts extreme violence”, The video has been replaced by the same copy hosted on this server.