Nanga Parbat killings: less talk, more action
By: Tariq Masood Malik
We were just coming to terms with a blast that wrecked a student bus in Quetta recently and the bomb that destroyed the Ziarat Residency this past week. Then, news broke in the northern most part of the country of 10 foreign mountaineers — belonging to Ukraine, China, Slovakia, Lithuania, Nepal and the US — who had been shot dead in the early hours of the morning of June 23.
Does anyone remember the last time our beloved country made it on the world news bulletins for the right reasons? Such occasions are rare, even if we crane our necks to look into the far distant past and include the fields of sports and education, science and art that in the past have been our saving graces.
That such dastardly things are a norm in Pakistan does not surprise me. What does baffle me is the passive nonchalance with which the authorities have reacted to this new act of terror. Our politicians seem to have a standard statement etched in their minds — a generic response for whenever something embarrassing and terrifying happens on our territory. They react in an identical way to every tragedy that hits us, using words and phrases similar in their manner as well as their futility. The reaction runs somewhat like this: “We condemn this act of terrorism”. “We should bring to light the hidden hand behind this act”. “This is a conspiracy to shame Pakistan and damage its reputation in the world community”. Condemnation of terrorist acts by state authorities is good, but grossly insufficient if we are interested in bringing these catastrophes to an end. Such statements have taken us nowhere in the past, nor will they help this time. We need tangible action!
On the other hand, the relentless Taliban, the people behind this particular act as well, are having a field day. They are cocooned in every nook and corner of the country. They come at will and in broad daylight. They strike as many times as they want and target whoever they wish to target. One day, they will strike in Karachi in the south, the next in Quetta in the southwest and then in the north. It is frightening to see how imperturbably they admit responsibility for terrorism inflicted, while they are so close to entering into negotiations with the government.
Time and again, we are forced to ask why it has proved impossible for the authorities concerned to reach and apprehend an entity that has a distinct name, a clearly identifiable face and an address within the precincts where Pakistan has a claim to running its writ.
Pakistan, no doubt, is a “hard country” but equally without doubt is the fact that Pakistan boasts an irresistible geography and a hospitable, talented populace. The fateful expedition by the mountaineers from Ukraine, China, Slovakia, Lithuania, Nepal and the US, despite all troubles faced by Pakistan, was a testimony to our aptitude for tourism.
Prompt action from the government is needed that brings those responsible to justice and restores the confidence of people. Action is expected by the authorities concerned that will prevent the complete demise of prospects for tourism in Pakistan. The choice has always been ours — do we want to be a country that others delight in visiting or would we rather be an outcast that is painted red on the world atlas?
Dear leaders, please do something more effective than just “condemning” the brutal murder of these innocent tourists. We need you to take a step further and begin to “fix” this country that people may well be too scared to visit!