Monday, March 9, 2009

A Hostage Nation...

A friend's letter to the editor of the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, in the wake of the recent attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore:


The armed attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team convoy and the resulting loss of life of our brave police officers have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that Pakistan has been taken hostage. It has become hostage to the whims of armed extremists, obscurantists and politicians who would use this security lapse as a means of extracting political mileage.

The terrorists, regardless of their grievances, have succeeded in crushing the national morale and also eliciting a passive ambivalence from our populace, who have no idea how to deal with such terrorists, except at the most, and verbally condemn their actions.

We, Pakistanis, are plagued by terror and fear-and the time is ripe for the president, and PM to take the nation into confidence and launch a massive military operation against the terrorists and their sympathizers across the country.

It is another ‘either you are with us or against us’ moment for them. Terrorist safe havens should be mowed down with extreme prejudice by utilizing all resources at the disposal of the state: the Army, Air Force and other security forces. Any action initiated right now should have reasonably widespread public support. The president, PM and lawmakers should stress that the militants do not wish Pakistan well and we cannot afford to be ambivalent anymore towards how to deal with them.

No one has the right to take life and challenge the writ of the state, regardless of the enormity of their grievances.

This is the time to strike as the iron is red hot. Failure to act or a less than emphatic response to the attacks on Sri Lankan cricket team will likely lead to more brazen attacks by terrorists.

We have already wasted much time looking for ad hoc solutions. This is also needed to pull back the country from the brink of a military takeover — the more brazen the attacks by the terrorists become, the closer the country will slide towards military intervention. May God protect all Pakistanis.

--Mir Usman Ali

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