EDITORIAL: Attacking the Ghazi of Karachi
On Thursday, two suicide bombers killed 10 and injured 70 people at the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, the patron saint of Karachi. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for this horrendous attack. The attack is significant because the Taliban wanted to cause the maximum damage, given that it was the busiest day of the week at the shrine. Abdullah Shah Ghazi, a Sufi saint, has been revered as the saviour of Karachi from tropical storms for over a thousand years. This attack by the TTP is not just an attack on his shrine but also his teachings and beliefs.
In the recent past, we have seen a new pattern emerging. The TTP has started attacking shrines of Sufi saints all across the country. The Taliban before this attack have targeted a mosque and shrine in the Khyber Agency’s Landi Kotal tehsil, a Sufi saint’s shrine in Gandhawa in the district of Jhal Magsi, the shrine of Rahman Baba and Mian Umar Baba in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The TTP also initially claimed responsibility for the triple suicide attack on Data Darbar in Lahore but later backtracked and denied involvement. This begs the question: why attack Sufi shrines? Sufism is the single greatest threat to the Taliban and their ideology of violence and coercion. Sufism teaches tolerance and humanism, it is non-dogmatic, accommodative of all sects and religions and non-violent. The Sufis’ message of love transcends the material world and embraces universal brotherhood. In stark contrast, the Taliban use violence as the principal means to their goals and want to impose their strict interpretation of Islam on everyone by force and compulsion. The Taliban consider it un-Islamic to pay homage at Sufi shrines and cite it as shirk (associating partners with God) and bidat (innovation in religion). Knowing their open hostility towards Sufism, one expected the government to have done some homework.
The statement “there was a security lapse” by Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza is bewildering. The first suicide bomber struck at the main gate check post, while the second struck at the next check post. The attackers could have wreaked much more havoc had they managed to cross the security check posts. In a way, Dr Mirza is admitting his department’s failure to check the attacks in the first place. Suicide attacks are very difficult to prevent once the attacker is on his way; it is coordinated intelligence and police work that can help pre-empt the threat.
Contrary to popular perception, the large majority of Pakistanis adhere to Sufi beliefs rather than the hardline views espoused by the Taliban. The TTP feels threatened by their dwindling support and have tried to create a sectarian divide time and again. This initially found some success with attacks on religious minorities and places of worship. It was an attack on the shrine of a Sunni saint Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh in Lahore, whom all major sects of Islam in the subcontinent revere, which ended up uniting the different sects. The shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi is of similar significance to the people of Karachi as is Data Darbar to the people of Lahore. This atrocious attack will, in all probability, once again unite the people of Pakistan against the Taliban ideology of terror. *
SECOND EDITORIAL: The lone ranger
In a move that reflects just how petty and narrow the PML-N is becoming, leader of the opposition Chaudhry Nisar staged a walkout from Thursday’s session of the National Assembly and threatened to boycott the remainder of the session. The reason for this extreme show of protest occurred when the house unanimously passed the Reinstatement of Sacked Employees Bill, 2009, which will benefit some 9,000 people who were unceremoniously sacked from government or corporation service in the period from November 1996 to December 1998 — during Nawaz Sharif’s second stint as prime minister. Incidentally they are the same people who were hired in the period from November 1993 to November 1996 — during the PPP’s turn at the wheel. It does not take much to understand that these people served as nothing more than pawns in the political seesaw between the PML-N and the PPP during the 90s.
In efforts to right the wrongs of previous governments, the PPP has put its weight behind this bill because it will finally address the grievances of many thousands of people sacked from their posts, not because of a lack of merit but because of political affiliations. A great many people in Pakistan are supporters of one or the other political party. To be fired for this reason alone is sheer political victimisation.
Mr Nisar asserts that the necessary quorum was not in attendance for the passage of the bill. This does not add up as, on the first day of the NA session, the PML-N representatives okayed the bill. Now that almost the entire house, for once, stands united on one single matter — the rest of the opposition benches included — it seems as though Chaudhry Nisar is acting up to adopt opposition merely for the sake of opposition. With such a rigid stance, it must be asked of the PML-N whether they care for the 9,000 plus mouths and their families that will be fed with the passage of this bill. It must be asked just how pro-working people the PML-N is if they can dismiss the merit of so many people out of hand and in contradiction to their own representatives’ agreement in the committee that deliberated on the bill. Mr Nisar must, in his own and his party’s interest, display some consistency and logic. If any of the many sacked during the PML-N’s second tenure were let go on substantial grounds, Mr Nisar must share the evidence. Otherwise, it is urged that the PML-N abandon this solo flight, political flip-flopping and support a measure for the good of the people. *