Lahore is the city where I lived for over a decade and the shrine of Data Sahib (also known as Ali Hujwiri Data Ganj Bakhsh) was in my neighborhood. I used to go inside the shrine and mosque whenever I felt the urge. He was an eleventh-century saint considered author of the first book on Sufism in Persian. His shrine is a spiritual place for those Sunni Muslims (majority) who believe in Islamic mysticism instead of ‘jihadism’.
In the same locality, there is also a Shia Muslim shrine known as Karbala Gamay Shah. I was a regular visitor to this worship place as well. Besides going to the Jamaat Khana of the Ismaili Muslims, I also used to visit the Cathedral Church. The Gurdwara of Sikhs and Baitul Ahmediya were not strange to me either. I get spiritual enhancement everywhere. I have no problem with a temple, mosque, church, synagogue or any other place of worship. But whenever any of the religious places are attacked, I shed tears of blood. “Can God of any religion be this much ruthless?” I always speculate.
In addition to the military, police and paramilitary forces, there are more than a dozen secret agencies working in Pakistan including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) and Special Branch.
Now, the questions in my mind are: what is our government doing today to maintain law and order in the country? What is the task of our security agencies? Why are these agencies not able to stop acts of terror in major cities including Karachi and Lahore? Which ones of these agencies give alarms of 'possible' terror attacks and which ones fail to stop the attacks? What are the links between the two? Officers of these agencies are professional or just getting their salaries like other government departments? Whose orders officers of these agencies obey really? Are there certain officers in these agencies who play political, racial and sectarian games in the country? What is the parameter to declare a person ‘true’ Muslim or ‘patriotic’ citizen? Why the mindset of the mullahs and officers of secret agencies is similar (as they can declare anyone ‘infidel’ or ‘unpatriotic’ besides giving those extremists entry visa to haven who volunteer to kill the accused)? What is the actual role of foreign agencies in the deteriorating law and order situation?
Presently, terrorist groups are operating everywhere in the country but our government and security agencies are busy in dirty politics. Personnel of the secret agencies are being used to harass innocent people. They’ve become symbol of terror among the common people since cases of missing persons came in the national and international media. They can directly or in directly attack or humiliate anyone, but yet they fail to control the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks who are not killing the common people only but security personnel as well. But these agencies seem silent spectators. What kind of message this gives to the nation and the world? Our rulers give a damn about it?
The public’s perception about our secret agencies and their working style has been negative as successive military dictators always misused them to remain power. What people think and say cannot be ignored in this cyber age. A reflection of it can be witnessed in the global media as 'cartelization' of news doesn't allow our local media to touch real issues of the country! To be frank, our agencies need overhauling according to the changed world. They're maintaining the status quo of military dictators, General Zia and General Musharraf.
For the last three months, after attempts on my life, I'm locked inside my home. I’m being harassed with my family members. Our telephones are being recorded, text messages and emails being bugged. The Terrorland blog is often interrupted and moderators fail to connect or update the site for hours.
However, the terrorists have been given free hand! Is this democracy? Where are we destined for in the 21st century as a nation state? What will history tell posterity about the current heads of our state, government, judiciary, military, secret agencies and other departments? What decision history will give about our media and journalists?
When I look around, nobody seems caring much about such silly questions. People in power are caring for only ‘today’ and they firmly believe that there is no ‘tomorrow’ for them! They’ve also lost connection with the ‘yesterday’ long ago! Oh, my unimaginative ruling elite!
Currently, my family members are living in three cities of the country: Rawalpindi, Gilgit and Hunza. Telephone is the only source of communication among members of our divided family in these difficult times when we're under attack from all directions.
The other day I was talking to a family member on the phone when suddenly a violent interruption in our conversation started! We were irritated.
“Listen to me,” I addressed the intruder, “I know who you’re...! We as a nation are ashamed of you! You’re supposed to protect the tax-paying citizens, but you’re harassing us! You’ve let the terrorists free but are terrorizing us in this country. Shame on you. Bastard!”
There was an awkward silence.
“They can't escape the wrath of God,” my relative from the other side tried to cool me down. “Just wait and see what God is going to do with these rogue people!”
(Photo by Habib R. Sulemani)