How is this not our war?
To attack people for their religious beliefs in thoroughly indefensible; to target those who have no means to defend themselves is also cowardly. The killings of over 20 Shia commuters on way to Astor by sectarian terrorists was thus a dastardly act. This was by no means the first of its kind though. It is the third incident where passengers traveling to Gilgit-Baltistan have been taken out of buses, their ID cards checked and those with names common among the Shia community made to stand in a line and gunned down. Sunni Muslims have not been treated any better by another variety of militants either. Mosques have been attacked and those offering prayers bombed or gunned down indiscriminately. Shrines all over the country have been targeted during festivals leading to innumerable killings.
The incidents expose the hollowness of the politicians who maintain that militancy is caused by the US presence in Afghanistan or by Pakistan supporting America’s war against extremism. Pakistani Shias, like members of their sect in Iran, are known for their anti-US stance and have opposed the US global ambitions. And how can the sentiment against the US occupation lead to attacks on mosques and some of the most revered shrines in Pakistan? Such is the level of prejudice on the part of the militants’ apologists that Munawwar Hasan continues to accuse foreign powers to be the masterminds of the attack in Kamra despite the TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan owning and praising the terrorist act. The position taken by the PTI chief and Ch Nisar is no less illogical.
The incident has brought bad name to the country. UN chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed ‘outrage’ over such deliberate attacks of people for their religious beliefs. That Pakistanis belonging to all sects want to live peacefully was indicated by the decision taken by four prominent religious parties to join hands against sectarianism in Gilgit-Baltistan. The mischief is confined to a handful of militants who are keen to establish a world caliphate at the expense of the integrity of Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries.
The communal terrorists are an integral part of the TTP. They use tribal areas like North Waziristan as safe havens for training and shelter. Many in Pakistan would readily agree with Gen Kayani’s observation that the fight against extremism and terrorism is our own war and that any doubt about it will lead to division and civil war. One has to realize that once Nato troops are out of Afghanistan, Pakistan would find it hard to get rid of the threat posed by extremism. It is time Pakistan devoted itself whole heartedly to the eradication of the militant menace.