The rulers of Pakistan have still been enjoying their lives. There is no report that they have felt any pain, but the poor masses have been facing a very difficult situation. If the situation remains the same there is possibility that the country may face a bloody revolution. Actually this is the aim of terrorists to create bloody revolution on the pattern of Iran. Who are terrorists? I do not know who are these people. But they are in Pakistan and are busy round the clock preparing ground for a bloody revolution.
It is reported that President Pervez Musharraf has directed the caretaker government in Islamabad to ensure security in the country during the month of Muharram when Pakistan has traditionally gone on institutional alert. Sectarian violence, always a threat during Muharram, spiked towards the end of the 1990s and played havoc with the Musharraf interregnum.
Starting in 2003, Pakistan’s anti-Shia trend was internationalised and Iraq beat it on the number of deaths recorded. Today Pakistan is engulfed in what may be called anti-Musharraf violence. There is an offensive from the people against the state, which they no longer identify as their friend, and there is responsive violence from the state trying to curb civil society protest.
There is also the violence of Talibanisation and Al Qaeda. The first is attempting to transform society and prepare it for a universal Islamic caliphate, the second is attempting to eliminate what it believes are “servants” of America’s anti-Islamic imperialism. There was a time when Pakistan’s establishment was actively involved in supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan and thus being a partisan in the internal conflict there by pitting the Pushtun majority against the rest. Today, the state seems to have decided to change course and contain the spreading influence of Talibanisation, but most observers fear that important pockets within the establishment are still following the Taliban agenda. This thinking is not willing to separate the violence of Al Qaeda from that of the state under President Musharraf.
The ambivalence in the understanding of violence in Pakistan was best reflected in the attitude of the late PPP chairperson Ms Benazir Bhutto who warned the nation against the “leftovers” of the General Zia’s Islamisation period who were ensconced within the state institutions. There was a reason why she thought that there was “cooperation” between the state and Al Qaeda. She had been targeted by Al Qaeda during the 1980s and later on too, when Osama bin Laden is said to have spent money on politicians who would eliminate her politically from the national scene. So she had reason to believe that upon her entry into Pakistan these “embedded” elements would try to get rid of her.
Yet there was a second prong to her policy vis-à-vis security in Pakistan. She was the only mainstream Pakistani leader to speak against the threat of Al Qaeda. She spoke out in circumstances when most leaders were looking to getting votes from a population that refuses to focus on the Al Qaeda threat. No one wants to be heard commenting on Al Qaeda in public. The media too is more effectively concentrated on the revival of democratic institutions and President Musharraf’s increasingly unconvincing strategy to stay in power. Ironically, President Musharraf and Ms Bhutto became the only two leaders to “verbalise” against Al Qaeda.
It is not surprising that Ms Bhutto’s assassination has persuaded the public that the state, and not Al Qaeda, has actually committed the murder. We are therefore in a very tricky situation -- the state is supposed to provide security to a people who actually suspect it of killing its leaders. The accusations against the “agencies” began in the 1990s and are still flying thick in the country. The opposition government in the NWFP never tired of pointing the finger at the agencies when incidents of violence occurred within the state’s jurisdiction. That is why, in the run-up to the elections in 2008, the opposition parties are all crying foul about the interference of the agencies in the rigging of the polls. Violence emanating from this sense of grievance has unfolded in the country, during which the institutions charged with the preservation of security have actually fled the scene of violence.
It is in these circumstances of state-people confrontation that third parties are most willingly intervening to cause conflict. The month of Muharram is just the time when a well-planted bomb, or a Sunni suicide-bomber promised Paradise in return for a Shia death, can trigger an all-out war. This happened in 2003 and 2004 in Balochistan and Karachi; it has happened in the Northern Areas, and at the time of writing, it is going on in the Kurram Agency. Such is the past jurisprudence of the sectarian violence in Pakistan that both sides end up accusing the state and its “agencies” of killing them. In the decade of the 2000, the trend to accuse the United States for sectarian violence has gained strength, thus indirectly absolving Al Qaeda, and its subservient jihadi militias of yore, of any complicity.
This could be the most difficult season of public security in Pakistan. The grief over the death of Ms Bhutto has not died down, and any high-visibility presence of the state agencies could instigate violence instead of preventing it.
In the past, the common man came under a lot of pressure from the decline of minimal public utilities even as the government was able to achieve growth rates. Now there is a lack of hope commensurate with the government’s failure to effectively counter the threats it said it would eliminate. Thus, state security has been undermined by a lack of trust as never before.