Attack on foreign tourists

Tourist economy under threat as federal govt priorities lie elsewhere

Ten foreign tourists and one native guide were shot dead in an attack in a resort in Gilgit-Baltistan late on Saturday night. The five Ukrainians, three Chinese and one Russian were hoping to scale the Nanga Parbat peak, one of the key attractions to foreign mountaineers in Pakistan’s troubled north, where the tourism industry was on its way to revival after the Taliban takeover of Swat in 2009. While the federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan told the National Assembly that “it was an attack on Pakistan”, he again refused to name the group responsible for this act. While confusion hovered for a while as to who the perpetrator was, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chose to lift the veil over who had done it.

The TTP spokesman told AFP that the killings were “by its new wing, Junood ul-Hifsa, set up to attack foreigners to avenge US drone strikes”. This attack was intended specifically “to avenge the drone strike that killed the TTP’s second-in-command Waliur Rehman” on May 29. The drone strike on Rehman had come at a time when the Pakistan government had declared its priority for talks, and Rehman was considered amongst the few TTP leaders that favoured talking over militancy. The attack has recreated a sense of fear and raised calls for the government to identify and target those who were behind it. The fact that the gunmen were dressed as paramilitary forces points to a serious security lapse and the infiltration of militants in an area not known to sympathize with the TTP militancy. But it must be remembered that no one was held responsible for the attacks on Shias in the area too.

The interior minister’s response has been to suspend the Gilgit-Baltistan chief secretary and inspector general police, but this only appears like a kneejerk response. The real questions the interior minister needs to be asked are: where is the much-promised National Security Policy that he spoke of again and why is he still speaking of “security agencies and intelligence agencies not coordinating”? Do they not fall under his and the federal government’s purview? With incidents of terrorism on the rise, the apparent aloofness of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government is raising questions. Why indeed was the prime minister with the Punjab chief minister to announce that that the Punjab police would be re-organised like the Turkish police, instead of dealing with the security threat? Surely, the prime minister and interior minister are also aware that 377 people have been killed over the last 42 days in Karachi, including Saturday’s attack on a jail in Karachi. The interior ministry has a central role to play in weeding out the issue of terrorism. Quetta, Bannu, Bajaur, Peshawar and now Gilgit-Baltistan have seen major terrorist attacks. Now that the budget is set to be passed, the cabinet must turn to the issue of the rising terrorism. Resolutions in the National Assembly are going to do nothing, unless a unified response is articulated. The much-touted National Security Policy is needed – and soon.



2 Comments

  1. Bruce said:

    The Taliban and Islamic militants are the cancer of the Muslim people and the world. May the blessings of god be with the muslin people until they rid themselves of these parasites.

  2. S.R.H. Hashmi said:

    Foreign Office has issued a statement regarding the killing and it may well be right when it says that the brutal and uncalled for murder of foreign mountaineers may be an attempt by enemies of Pakistan to disrupt our government's growing relations with China and other countries. However, what should one expect from enemies: offer us bouquets and solve our problems?

    The important thing to consider is what is our government doing to control extremism and terrorism, apart from issuing condemnatory statements? We are still only talking about developing a comprehensive national policy to deal with the menace.

    And we just heard that Sindh government is calling an all-parties conference on Karachi situation, the date of which will be announced after consulting leaders of various political parties. This is the only 'effective' action that the government could think of after running Federal and Sindh governments for five years.

    Just shows the seriousness and will of the authorities to deal with a problem which, if not controlled, could end in the dismemberment of Pakistan, with the active cooperation of our enemies who would be only too pleased to extend a helping hand, and in fact have been doing just that for many years now. Obviously, after taking care of Iraq and Syria, they would not want to leave Pakistan in tact, and in possession of nuclear assets.

    When will our leaders wake up, if ever they wake up?

    Karachi

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