While the world focuses on the War against Terrorism, the war against poverty slides onto the backburner.
Since the bombing of the World Trade Centers almost three years back, three elements are emerging. The first is the fight to root out militants, the second is the political rise of the voice of the religious margins (extremists) and the third is the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
Pakistan is a front line state in the war against terrorism. Most of the leading terrorists were arrested from Pakistan. Khalid Shaikh, once described as the CEO of Al Qaeda, was arrested from Rawalpindi. Other important leaders continue to be caught in dribs and drabs every six months including Ahmad Khalfan Ghailani a Tanzanian who was arrested in the Pakistani city of Gujrat last month.
This is both good and bad news for Islamabad’s military ruler. The positive part is that the General gets to play good cop and earn Washington’s pleasure to continue his dictatorship. The bad part is that eyebrows are raised as to why Al Qaeda leading militants found it necessary to hide in a land run by Washington’s “key ally” in the war against terrorism.
Unfortunately for Pakistan, assassinations and suicide bombings are increasing domestically in Pakistan. Scores of Pakistanis and many foreigners were killed as a consequence. Many leading political leaders,
including a parliamentarian of the Pakistan Peoples Party, were gunned down in streets from the North in Rawalpindi to the South in Karachi.
None of the assassins were arrested.
Instead public interest was focused on five high profile assassination attempts that took place since last December. These included two attacks on General Musharraf, one on the Karachi Corp Commander, the fourth on Prime Minister designate Mr. Shaukat Aziz and the Baluchistan Chief Minister.
While the regime claims that these were assassination attempts against the politically high value targets, the pattern speaks against it. At best these were attempts to frighten the high value targets. At worst, if the cynics are to be believed, these were stage managed for external exploitation.
For example, in each of the attacks, the suicide bombers used low intensity explosives. While the cars were hit, or nearly hit, the casualties were of personal and national value and not of political value. These included innocent people escorting the politically high value targets. Each high value target, including Musharraf, the Corp Commander, the Prime Minister designate and the Chief Minister did not receive a scratch. While it is welcome that they survived, the larger issue needs resolving: was the aim of the attacker’s to kill the high value targets or merely frighten them– or was it something else.
The drivers in the Corp Commander and Prime Minister designate cars were killed but the rest of the passengers escaped unscathed. It is difficult to believe that a suicide bomber would repeatedly use a low intensity explosive so that only one occupant of the car he was bombing would die (or the person outside the car would die).
A public Commission into the suicide attacks would reveal the true intent of the suicide bomber. This is much needed.