Unlikely suicide bombers

Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Shehryar Afridi’s threats are making matters worse

Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Kashmir Affairs Committee Chairman Shehryar Afridi may be expressing something of the rage felt by PTI supporters at PTI floorcrossers when they said they would have launched a suicide bombing on them had suicide not been banned by Islam. However, this expression of rage would not improve matters. While it may have felt right to say it at a rally to prepare the party faithful, there are so many ways in which it was wrong to do so.

First of all, it is morally wrong, and insensitive to boot, to speak thus favourably of suicide bombing, knowing that the victims’ families are all around us. Such casual references might not be appreciated by those who approve of, or even have facilitated, suicide bombings. They do consider it a form of holy war, and might not appreciate it being dragged into domestic politics. Then there is the issue of proportionality. No matter how reprehensible one considers intending floorcrossing, it does not carry a death sentence.

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Then there are the dangers of Pakistan’s opponents saying that the ministers’ statements merely show how dangerous Pakistan is under ‘Taliban’ Khan’, a title his critics gave to PM Imran Khan for the sympathy he lavished on the Taliban. It is perhaps a pity that the aviation Minister spoke in this vein, with memories being revived of 9/11, and now the Kashmir Committee Chairman, raising the prospect of the kinds of methods to be used to attain Kashmir’s freedom from the Indian yoke. It may well be that listeners dismissed these statements as mere hot air, as both were careful to include the caveat about suicide being forbidden in Islam. To speak of such an abhorrent deed being somehow acceptable helps neither Pakistan’s image abroad, nor to keep their leader in office The pair may have scored a few brownie points with their leader, but they have not advanced the debate in any way.

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