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Wages of Pakistan's sins

Wages of Pakistan's sins

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 4, 2011
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/328926/Wages-of-Pakistan's-sins.html

Jihadis now target their patrons

Given Pakistan's recent track record in assassinations, suicide bombings and deadly shootings, there is little news on these lines that, sadly, still manages to elicit a sense of shock or even surprise. Already the world has seen Pakistani politicians - from the powerful Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer to the inconsequential Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti - being assassinated for their less-than radical views. Nobody was taken aback when the average Pakistani cheered Taseer's cold-blooded murder. Nor was anybody amazed when the Government of Pakistan shied away from unequivocally condeming the killing of Shahbaz Bhatti, whose funeral saw few prominent Pakistanis turning up for the last prayers. That's today's Pakistan where few seem to be worried about their country's free fall into chaos, disorder and jihadi violence. The so-called civilian Government is weak. Funded and armed by America, the military runs the show from the shadows while a deeply entrenched terror network functions completely outside the pale of the law, such as it exists. Reports of suicide bombings have become so commonplace that they barely qualify as being newsworthy. Given this stark reality, it is only natural that last week's repeated attempts to assassinate the ultra-conservative hardline leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam should have gone largely unnoticed and unreported. On March 30, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a political rally organised by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam where its chief, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, was to address the gathering. The maulana escaped unhurt but at least 10 people were killed. The next day another suicide bomber targetted his motorcade and killed 13 people. The attacks point to the terrifying heights that radical Islamism has scaled in Pakistan.

There is little doubt that Maulana Rehman was attacked because on March 5 he told the National Assembly that he was open to discussing the "perceived misuse" of Pakistan's draconian anti-blasphemy laws. Unlike Taseer or Bhatti, Maulana Rehman is by no means a vocal opponent of these laws. Yet his comments are considered blasphemous enough to warrant his assassination. Diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks that have revealed that the staunchly pro-Taliban maulana was willing to share information about the militants in exchange for greater political clout has only complicated matters. A popular figure in his constituency in Balochistan and equally influential in neighbouring Waziristan - both Taliban hotbeds - the revelations have angered Maulana Rehman's radical supporters and now threaten his life. So, forget about minorities and liberals in Pakistan, now even the fundamentalists are not safe in that country. Such are the wages of Pakistan's sins.

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