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Home Media Reports 2010 It’s now or never [Column]
It’s now or never
It’s now or never
By Kamran Shafi
Tuesday, 01 Jun, 2010
An Ahmadi man weeps as victims are loaded onto an ambulance after gunmen attacked their place of worship in Lahore's Garhi Shahu neighborhood on May 28, 2010. - Reuters Photo/Mohsin Raza
An Ahmadi man weeps as victims are loaded onto an ambulance after gunmen attacked their place of worship in Lahore’s Garhi Shahu neighborhood on May 28, 2010. — Reuters Photo/Mohsin Raza

I saw the news of the massacre much after it had happened, being out of the house when I received an alert on my cell about “12” people getting killed in a terrorist attack on praying Ahmadis in Model Town. I ran home and put on the TV and burst into tears, first of rage and a seething anger; and then of complete and utter helplessness and sadness. Shame on us.

The faces and names of friends of old, almost like family, flashed before my eyes: familiar names like Shammo and Shadoo and their mother auntie Zohra, my mother’s classmate and friend; of Shaddi and Durre, of … oh so many with some of whom one grew up and played hide and seek with at Lady Robert’s Home in Murree where we would go in the blazing summer heat. We did not even know who was or who was not an Ahmadi.

Shammo was the one of the best Battalion Sergeants Major PMA ever had. I say this despite the fact that I was invariably selected for special ‘treatment’ — ragging like you never saw before, and only because he and I were family friends, he a little older of course.

Invariably, every third day Shammo would take me to the canteen for gulab jamuns and ras gullas, as if to make up. But the next day it would all start all over again! But always with a grace and kindness which was always there beneath the rough and tough manner of this exceptional man.

I thought of my cardiologist, the good General Noori, now retired, and who has such a caring and soothing manner; who indeed has the God-given, what we call in the vernacular, shifa in his hands. I thought of many of us rebelling in our ways against the resolution that notified the Ahmadis as non-Muslims. Major Pervez Asghar Mian, later brigadier, aka Pingoo from my school who was DQ in 11 Division, was one of those that tried to lessen the impact on Ahmadi soldiers and men.

I went to Pingoo’s office one day and found him in a huge temper at an officer who had just left his office, red in the face. When I asked him what had happened Pingoo said that his visitor wanted to change his room because his roommate was an Ahmadi. (The National Assembly had passed the resolution only the previous evening.)

“Till yesterday this (expletive deleted) was going to the movies and shopping, and generally cruising on the other officer’s (the Ahmadi’s) scooter which he used to borrowed every day, and today, just one night after the Ahmadis were declared non-Muslim this (expletive deleted) wants to change his room! He will stay where he is, or he is out of the bloody mess,” Pingoo said. (Very big expletive deleted).

But cry as we might for the old days and old friendships and even older relationships, the fact is that this most recent horror was not surprising. Neither is it the first time that our minorities have faced most cruel death and destruction and arson and looting and rape and pillage.

If it isn’t Gojra one day where poor Christians are mercilessly burnt to death, it is Ahmadis in Nawabshah killed mindlessly and cruelly because a talk-show host of an important channel incites the mob to do murder. If it isn’t Faisalabad one day, it is Sialkot the next where one or the other minority is targeted.

I said earlier that I was not surprised. Why should I be when our state itself has trained and reared the monsters who are now not only going about usurping whatever writ of the state remains outside their clutches, they are also biting the state itself on the back (the Americans have a charming and very vivid way of putting this — but you do get the point): witness the attacks on GHQ itself and on an army mosque in the highly guarded Westridge not too long ago.

What chance do minorities have when a serving general’s own innocent children are killed in broad daylight? Additionally, in the twisted and ugly thinking of these brutes if you kill non-Muslims you get a fast-track ticket to heaven with its bevy of 72 virgins each. So there!

Which, be as it may, the security establishment must immediately turn its back on terror outfits, ‘assets’ or no bloody assets. The Punjab government ought to set up a high-powered committee made up of police officers, trainers and commanders who should go through ALL the films shot of the siege by the various channels and evaluate the performance of the Punjab Puls. They will find that not one SOP was followed by the veritable mob of policemen who were doing as they pleased.

In many instances, they were firing their Kalashnikovs without aiming at anything at all. There was scant crowd control which is the first thing to be done in such eventualities, and people were milling about so much and so aimlessly that the Rescue 1122 ambulances (which did a sterling job as always) did not have space to reverse or get into position to receive the casualties.

More than anything else the Punjab government must immediately stop living in denial and face the ugly fact that the southern parts of the province, districts like Multan and Bahawalpur and D.G. Khan and Jhang and Muzaffargarh and Rahimyar Khan, are awash with militants of a very hard hue.

It was absurd seeing Law Minister Rana Sanaullah say on a TV talk show in which Shafqat Mahmood and Arif Nizami were trying to talk sense to him that the basic fault lies in Fata where all of the terror schools are located. Well, what about the tens of madressahs churning out ill-read and illiterate and angry young men in the Punjab itself?

If we do not take a firm grip on the matter now it will be far too late.

P.S. May I express my horror at Israel’s cruelty in killing people who were taking supplies to Gaza by sea? Friend Talat Hussain of Aaj TV and his team are also missing in that same atrocity. May they be safe.

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