| Welcome to Global Village Space

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

“Don’t let Pakhtunkhwa Bleed Again,” Tweets Taimur Jhagra

Former Provincial Minister for Finance and Health KPK, Taimur Jhagra, took to Twitter to write a heartfelt message addressing the reemergence of terrorism in KPK.

“It took a long time to make Pakhtunkhwa a peaceful land. And we all want to keep it that way. We cannot sleepwalk into disaster,” said former MPA Taimur Jhagra in a tweet.

“This is personal for many of us,” he expressed his thoughts in a captivating tweet that continues as follows.

January 27, 2007: My first cousin, more elder sister, Shandana, lost her husband, to one of the first high profile suicide blasts in the city. Malik Saad Shaheed was then CCPO Peshawar, and he was only 47. He had been reviewing security arrangements for Ashura in Peshawar city. Saad was known for his bravery, and for the two qualities so few civil servants seem to be displaying in the crisis of today; of caring about delivering his work rather than fearing the consequences; and of being able to speak truth to power. Shandana and her children were literally on a plane, starting what must have felt like a life-changing journey. She had just got a Fulbright scholarship and was on the way to university at Cornell. It was life-changing, but not in the way they had thought. While Saad’s name is etched in immortality, I know that does not makes it easier for the proud family he has left behind.

Eleven years later, Jul 10, 2018: Another first cousin, Samar Bilour also lost her husband in tragically similar circumstances; Haroon Bilour was also 47. Haroon’s father had also died in a similar suicide attack. I remember that we were smack in the middle of the 2018 election campaign, and this incident immediately gave us all a sense of our mortality. Samar and I are almost exactly the same age. Our mothers are sisters, and we grew up being compared to each other. Many of you will know that after her husband’s death, she left a very private life to step into politics and was the only woman parliamentarian in the KP assembly, representing ANP. While Samar and I will always have our political differences, we remain friends, and its hard to not admire the dignity with which she has faced adversity. Sudden death leaves an unexplained void that is hard for the mind to justify. May no one have to go through the test.

Read More: Pakistan suicide bombing death toll rises to 45

Through much of the time KP was in flames, I was working abroad, based in Dubai. While it made it safer, it didn’t always make it easier.

One day, in 2009, Baba called to say my brother had been kidnapped from office. He had only just got married, and somehow managed to snick through a phone call home with his captor sitting next to him. I remember the thought that went through my head. If God forbid, something happens to him, all our lives will change. I was searching for flights back home, and even made up my mind to take a leave of absence or resign. We got lucky. The kidnapper was an amateur and he never turned off my brother’s phone. The police traced the car’s movement, and after both the kidnapper and my brother had received a good thrashing from the Punjab Police, my brother was home within 24 hours.

These were times when there was literally a suicide blast somewhere every day. But it took a while to fight back.

Sadly, the way this country is wired, we only shake at such events when they hit home, close to those who count. The news is made in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. Events in Peshawar count less. Events in FATA and Balochistan, even lesser.

Pakistan may not have shook as it should have when Malik Saad was martyred, but it did 18 months later when the Marriott was bombed in Islamabad. We still didn’t take things as seriously as we should, and ended up seeing the day the Sri Lanka team was attacked in Lahore. We started pushing back, but even then, never with the clear headed intent we should have, and it all circled back to Peshawar, with the unimaginable events at Army Public School, Peshawar.

But ultimately we gained. And the Peshawar I returned to in 2018 was a very different place to a decade earlier. Many had sacrificed for it.

Today, that is at risk. The last thing we should do is to let that cycle start again.

Today, if there is one thing that is clear, it is that we are unclear. After yesterday’s blast, the police restarted its campaign to crackdown on those PTI leaders who dare to show principle and character enough to stay with the party. Amongst others, our young MNA from Karak, Shahid Khattak received unwelcome guests. Others who did include MNA Saleem-ur-Rehman in Swat, and MPA Liaquat Ali in Dir. Liaquat already barely survived an ambush attack a few months ago in which brother was killed. To see the priorities of the Police and CM Azam Khan’s administration would be amusing, if this weren’t so serious.

We could have gotten serious after the Police Lines blast that happened in January, in Peshawar. Instead, there were many crocodile tears shed by Shahbaz Sharif and the federal government, and an attempt to blame it on Imran Khan, sorry, Chairman PTI.

The PM made a big deal in asking the KP govt to give an account of the money it had been given in the NFC; the irony was that it had been his government, since the day it came, that had started to withhold funds from KP. Over Rs 200 billion. We made many, many attempts to resolve this, because it could have made a big difference in augmenting spend on security. We had several meetings on the issue, including in the Apex Committee with representation of the XI Corps. I know the XI Corps also tried their best to help resolve these issues, but to-date, a year later, there has been no progress made.

Remember what I said; that Islamabad doesn’t always understand the complexity of Pakistan?

Read More: Videos from Bajaur rally show the moment bomb goes off

What happened instead? The KP cabinet was stuffed with political appointees from PDM parties, and that too from the third and fourth tier of their ranks; the constitution was broken, so that 195 days later, we still have no clue about an election that should have taken place in 90 days, and a government with a dubious legal mandate at best; Rs 20 billion approved and spent in a month for political purposes on the most hare-brained atta distribution programme in history, that itself resulted in the deaths of over a dozen people; the province handed over to a Governor who doesn’t have a clue; and the free-for-all enabling a culture of corruption that you can ask any bureaucrat about or any journalist about.

As the disaster makes itself clear, 195 days later, there is now talk of dismissing the entire cabinet. Will anyone ask who will be held accountable for this?

Meanwhile, the only focus of the administration and the police leadership seems to be to double down on efforts to break one political party; and even that is not working. The trouble is that while you can break off a few legislators and take them off to a Shadi Hall, you can’t break break the spirit or beliefs of a people when they are convinced of what is right.

Not everyone is for sale.

We will have time to play politics, but for now it is time to stop this madness. This is the time to arrest and reverse the law and order situation in KP. We need elections so that a stable government, with a long term mandate, and the trust of the people, can help solve our issues. In KP and across Pakistan. Somehow, we all have to forgive, forget and move on. But the law has to be upheld.

It is not the situation today that is worrying, it is where we know it can end up. It is time to focus on our real enemies and our real threats. Imran Khan is not the enemy. Imran Khan’s party is not the enemy.  Neither are his supporters. In that sense, no political party is.

Today, we risk alienating a huge segment of the population from the state with the activities of the police and the government. These memories are hard to forget. We have bigger, more important, and more real fights to win. Together. Hold elections. Heal the country. This is not the Pakistan anyone wants.”