Failure to protect by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

There are moments in life when everything loses its meanings and words become shallow. Today is that day when over 130 children, in a Peshawar school, were sacrificed for the political agenda of terrorists. It is not failure of just the state or intelligence agencies it is failure of all of us as a society. We are all responsible for this carnage regardless how much we try to convince ourselves to escape out of this guilt. I heard a father on a tv channel proudly saying that he is happy his son is a Shaheed today. There is no doubt that the kid is a Shaheed regardless whether he choose it or not. But what will we tell God when we are judged as fathers who fail to protect their kids from the wrath of criminals, butchers and terrorists. What justification we will provide for our inability to capture, prosecute and punish these criminals and their masterminds.

Tomorrow our politicians will gather in an All Parties Conference (APC) in Peshawar to issue condemnation of these acts; promise to fight terrorists till the end; and lay blame on some invisible hand that has conducted all these terrorists’ acts. They will make announcements to ensure medical treatment for the kids that are seriously injured and compensation for those that are dead. They will issue statements of condolence to the grieving families. Then they will all go home to their families that live in lavish houses and protected by hundreds of guards provided by the state. In few weeks all of us will forget Peshawar and get ready for condemnation for the next terrorist act that is bound to happen because the state and the nation fail to take concrete steps to apprehend and punish these criminals. Politicians that are in the government are busy in corruption of the highest order in the world and those in opposition are angry that it was their turn to be king and they have been deprived of it.

We have all kind of intelligence agencies but the most prominent are ISI, MI and IB. These intelligence agencies are not short of resources or talent but still they are not able to do their jobs. One main reason for it is that there is no oversight and accountability of their performance. In last many years there have been many high profile counter-intelligence failures like attack on Karachi airport; Mehran gate; GHQ attack, Peshawar church attack; attach on Hazara shia community in Quetta and now this school attack. But despite these failure no high profile official has been sacked for this poor performance. When civilians question the performance of ISI, in executing counter-intelligence strategy, then civil-military relations suddenly deteriorate and all kinds of conspiracies are hatched. It is about time this has to change.

Even if the civilians are not capable to do it, why cant inter-departmental investigation and accountability is done. Peshawar is at the epic center of terrorism and its sector commanders for ISI, MI and IB should be asked why they failed to have prior knowledge of these attacks. High profile terrorist attacks require a lot of planning, logistics, finances and training. It requires months of work to prepare for one attack. For all these months what were our counter-intelligence experts doing and why none of them are sacked from their jobs? What has happened to the dignity of our officers that they can’t come forward and voluntarily resign from their positions for these failures.

Our madrassas are producing graduates that know how to memorize the verses and hadiths but are not conversant with the spiritual teachings of the religion. They sit on the pulpit every Friday to deliver long winded sermons that has no relevance to our contemporary lives and fail to guide people about the teachings of Islam related to our social issues and how to deal with it. At the time of attack there were close to 500 children in the school, the ones that survived will be struggling all their lives about the true meaning of Islam because they heard terrorist shout Allah o Akbar before they opened fire on innocent and unarmed friends of theirs. Do we as Muslims really understand the teachings of our religion? How much time do we spend to understand to understand it and then try to live according to it?

Today everyone is suggesting that all of us have to get united and fight this menace. How should we fight? No one is willing to tackle this question. We have to do soul searching and find out whether we really want to fight this menace or not. If we decide to fight then we have to take some tough decisions and action. That include regularization of all madrassas in the country and performing regular audit of their curriculum, funding and enrollment. We have to decide that there are no good or bad Taliban. They are all extremist and must be dealt with iron hand. We have to execute the punishments granted to these terrorists by our courts and refuse to accept any inside or outside pressure to hesitate in it. We have to ask our counter-intelligence experts to focus on securing the country and stop meddling in the politics of the country. All those that fail to perform their duties should be relieved from it and others should be appointed that are passionate about their profession and perform it with highest standards.

We owe this to our martyred children that this nation embark on the journey of progress, prosperity and national unity. We cannot allow the blood of our children go to waste and be forgotten.

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