The dominant narrative in the (ISI and JI dominated) Pakistani media is to congratulate each other, security agencies (police, rangers, army) in particular, on their ‘success’ in preventing terrorist attacks during the Ashura of Muharram.
Once against the official narrative emanates from our masters in the establishment and is uncritically recycled and propagated by their friends in Pakistan’s “free media”.
Take for example a recent op-ed by Ejaz Haider in Express Tribune (20 Dec 2010) in which he states:
kudos to those who developed and executed the multiple security plans to prevent terrorist attacks on Youm-e-Ashur. A nerve-wracking task of herculean proportions, cover as it did several cities across the country and provided security to thousands of mourners in dense areas where preventing a single person from sneaking up to a crowd and mounting a suicide attack required meticulous planning and execution to a tee and more — much more.
Not a single time in this piece, Mr Haider acknowledged nor paid tribute to those innocent Shias and Sunnis who were killed by sectarian killers of the Taliban / Sipah-e-Sahaba in Kohat, Hangu and Peshawar during the Ashura of Muharram.
This shows not only an acutely urban (Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad centric) bias of our media but also speaks of their pro-establishment tendencies.
Let’s offer a quick survey of the ‘success’ during the mourning days of Muharram:
19 Shia and Sunni Muslims massacred in Kohat
8 December 2010
As usual, the ISI and JI dominated Pakistani media is distorting the fact. The Kohat attack today was clearly sectarian, aimed at a bus carrying passengers, most of them Shia but also some moderate Sunnis, who were travelling to the nearby tribal district of Orakzai, where Pakistan has encouraged displaced civilians to return after an anti-Taliban offensive.
According to daily Dawn:
A teenage suicide bomber killed 19 people at a busy Pakistani bus terminal on Wednesday, the third attack in three days as the country stepped up security for the holy month of Muharram.
The bomber blew himself up in Kohat, home to at least half a million people and one of the main garrisons for the Pakistan military, in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“It was a suicide blast. The death toll has risen to 17,” Kohat police chief Dilawar Bangash told AFP, adding that 25 others were wounded, seven of them seriously. (Death toll has risen to 19: DawnNews)
Police said the bomber blew himself up at the door of a bus carrying passengers to the nearby tribal district of Orakzai, where Pakistan has encouraged displaced civilians to return after an anti-Taliban offensive.
“We have found the head and legs of the suicide bomber,” said Bangash. The bus terminal is in Tirah bazaar, the main market in the town.
The attack coincided with the start of Muharram, which traditionally sees tensions rise between Pakistan’s majority Sunni Muslim and minority Shia Muslim community.
“It is true there were more Shias killed in the attack but there were a number of Sunnis also who died in the blast. So we cannot say who was the target,” said Bangash, adding the suicide bomber was aged 15 to 16.
15 Shias massacred at Al-Zahra Hospital and Mosque in Hangu
10 December 2010
A suicide bomb car bomb killed at least nine (update: 15) people in northwest Pakistan on Friday, police said, also leaving 28 others injured.
The bomb hit the main gate of the Al-Zuhra hospital and maternity center in Pass Kalay, a town in the district of Hangu, said Abdul Rashid Khan, the police chief in Hangu. The hospital and mosque cater to Shia patients and worshippers.
The blast damaged the mosque, two houses and two vehicles, he said. At least two children were killed.
Hangu sits next to Pakistan’s tribal region and is part of a region plagued by sectarian violence by extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis (Taliban / Sipah-e-Sahaba) against Shia Muslims.
The attack happened on the second day of Muhharam, one of the holiest days on the Islamic calendar, when violence and fighting is prohibited.
At least 15 people were killed and over 20 others were injured on Friday when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into an under-construction building of a hospital in northwest Pakistan, a media report said.
The commissioner of Kohat, Khalid Khan Umarzai confirmed “the suicide vehicle blast”, adding that “the authorities had received threats”.
On Wednesday, a suicide blast at a bus stand in Kohat city, a few kilometers away from Hangu, killed 16 people and injured more than 20.
Investigators said the blast, which damaged the hospital building, was a sectarian attack.
Some of the dead were identified as Khalid, Muhammad Ali, Waqar Hussain, Hikmat Ali, Zohra Bibi, Bibi Maryam and Saleem Bibi. The injured included Faizan Ali, Khalique Raza, Wajid Ali, Jaffar, Samin, Asghar, Tufail Muhammad, Ikhtiar Ali, Arsalan, Wahabul Hassan, Mohib Ali, Asghar Hussain, Gulfam Hussain, Ali Asghar and police constable Dildar Hussain.
A Shia community leader Shireen Ali Shah said they had informed the local administration about the likely terror attacks on their Imambargahs and hospitals but no security measures were taken to protect them. He alleged the blast took place due to the negligence on the part of the administration.
Grenade attack in Peshawar, 1 killed, 28 injured
16 Dec 2010
A grenade attack killed one child and wounded 28 people, including women and children, at a Muharram procession Thursday on the eve of Ashura in Peshawar, reported Express 24/7 correspondent Iftikhar Firdous.
“Twenty-five injured were brought to our hospital. There are women and children among them. One child is in a serious condition,” said Abdul Hamid Afridi, head of the city’s Lady Reading Hospital.
According to Express 24/7 correspondent Omar Farooq, three of the injured, including one child, were in critical conditions when they were brought into Lady Reading Hospital.
“It was a grenade attack,” Peshawar administration chief Mohammad Siraj told AFP, adding that police had failed to arrest the culprit.
Ashura attack kill nine in Hangu: police
December 17, 2010
PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD: A mortar attack killed nine people, including women and children, in northwest Pakistan on Friday as Shia Muslims marked Ashura, the holiest day in their calendar, police said.
Mortars slammed into two houses in Hangu, a town that has been a flashpoint for sectarian clashes between Shia and Sunni Muslim communities.
They were fired from the neighbouring district of Orakzai, part of Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas with Afghanistan that Washington has branded the global headquarters of al Qaeda. “It was a sectarian attack. A total of four mortars were fired. The death toll is now nine,” Gul Jamal, a local police official said.
Several women and at least two children were among the dead. Officials said the dead included six Shias and three Sunnis. The injured were taken to a nearby hospital.
The attack occurred despite tight security measures put in place for the Islamic holy month of Muharram, which has often been marred by sectarian and militant violence against Shias. Hangu has witnessed several attacks on Shias in the past.
Suicide attack in Shikarpur
17 Dec 2010
Security forces gunned down a suspicious person who tried to enter the Ashura procession in Shikarpur along with a bag on Friday. The attacker managed to explode the grenade before he died, injuring four people, including a police official, in a village near Khanpur .
Now, let us do the unpleasant part, the body count. I consider it necessary to deconstruct the ‘success narrative’ manufactured by the GHQ and propagated by their friends in Pakistani media.
1 Muharram, Kohat, 19
3 Muharram, Hangu, 15
9 Muharram, Peshawar, 1
10 Muharram, Hangu 9
Total deaths 44
I am aware that the actual number of deaths may exceed this figure as the total number of injured persons is quite high including several critically injured.
Thus my question is, would Ejaz Haider and his likes in Pakistani media feel any shame for recycling and propagating the urban- and “state” centric lies? Will they reflect for a moment on the damage the Teen Jeem (journalists, generals and judges) have caused to this unfortunate nation?
At the end of his piece, Mr Haider becomes obsessed with the monetary costs of suicide bombing and the security arrangements. He writes:
So far we have not monetised the costs; at least my inquiries in this regard have gone mostly unanswered. The direct costs are easier to calculate, the indirect more difficult. But the exercise is worth undertaking. What is clear, however, is that the cost will continue to rise until the mindset that desires to kill remains unchanged.
How conveniently he forgot to mention that the mindset that desires to kill is not to be found in religious madrassahs or the Tribal Areas, the mindset is located within the GHQ, judiciary and the media itself, and that the associated cost has not monetary but existential implications for this remainder part (post-1971) of the land we call Pakistan.