"Sound of blasts and
gory scenes in the courtyard are part of my routine nightmares," he
says in a somber tone. "I wake up thinking, Why on Earth would a Muslim
kill worshippers here?"
A year later, the culprits still remain
unidentified. In this incident as in others like it, either "militants'"
claim responsibility through an obscure spokesman, a fax, or a little
known website, or the government conveniently attributes it to be
From the North to the South of Pakistan,
most significant Sufi shrines, popular particularly among Sunni Muslims,
have been targeted in a campaign that appears well organized.
Sahibzada, who belongs to the Chishti order of Sufi tradition, sees the
reign of terror as a calculated move to deter people from this tolerant
and pacifist brand of Islam and to push them to embrace the militants'
"The enemies of Pakistan, whether extremist militants or
foreign powers, are using such tactics not only to scare people from
spirituality but to deepen sectarian fissures in the society as well,"
he told me in a telephone interview. Sahibzada believes that proponents
of such violence "find sanctuaries in parts of society having little
cushion for dialogue and co-existence".
have for years warned about the consequences that an increasingly
theocratic regime in Afghanistan would have on Pakistan, but are largely
ignored by government and civil society. The Pakistani leadership, in
its decades-old dream of gaining "strategic depth" in Afghanistan by
supporting allied militant groups there, still backs the Taliban in
Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal areas along
the western border. Innocent people in Pakistan, like Akhtar and others
at the Hajveri shrine last July, are wounded or killed by the Taliban's
For Pakistan, a country still mired
in a decades-old standoff with India over the disputed Jammu and Kashmir
regions and feuding over increasingly poisonous diplomatic rows with
the United States, supporting the Taliban has been considered, as
military leaders put it, "a strategic compulsion." • • • • •
images of jetliners crashing into the World Trade Center rattled
Pakistan's establishment, controlled by sitting Chief of Army Staff and
President General Pervez Musharraf. Washington blamed Taliban-controlled
Kabul for sheltering the terrorists and financiers responsible for
launching the attacks.
Pakistan had been the third country, after
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to recognize the Taliban
government in Afghanistan, which controlled over 90 percent of the
rugged, war-torn country. Still, Musharraf quickly condemned the
attacks, later agreeing to provide airfields, open air space, and share
intelligence to help the U.S.
Then-Deputy Secretary of State
Richard Armitage allegedly warned Pakistan's intelligence director that
the U.S. would bomb Pakistan if it did not cooperate, according to
Musharraf. "The intelligence director told me that Mr. Armitage said,
'Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age,'"
Musharraf told CBS News
in a 2006 interview.
at home questioned Musharraf's sudden U-turn against the Taliban. "The
events of 9/11 solved questions of legitimacy and credibility for the
commando general [Musharraf], and that was more than enough for him,"
said Imran Khan, Pakistan's opposition party leader.
As the U.S.
and NATO bombers overflew Pakistan, Musharraf's decision to provide
airspace faced strong disapproval from the public, opinion polls at the
time showed. Musharraf largely ignored the vocal opposition to his
decision to back U.S. President George W. Bush's war against terrorism.
the Taliban's envoy in Islamabad, Mulla Zaeef, still enjoyed
ambassadorial status and held daily press conferences in Islamabad until
Kabul fell to NATO's forces.• • • • •
didn't take long for the extensive extremist network based in Pakistan
to retaliate against the government, targeting unarmed, innocent
civilians, mostly vulnerable minorities, across the length and breadth
of the country.
On October 28, 2001, a Protestant church in the
southern Punjab city of Bahawalpur was attacked, killing 16. With the
exception of a police officer who was kailled, the casualties were all
Christian worshippers. Soon, churches and high-profile Christians came
under increasingly frequent attack. Many have since fled.
January 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was abducted
from the coastal metropolis of Karachi. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, one of
the September 11 architects and then a senior leader of al-Qaeda's,
later bragged to have personally beheaded the American journalist.
the summer of 2004, extremists attempted to assassinate Lieutenant
General Ahsan Saleem Hayat, Musharraf's most trusted colleague, killing
six in the failed attack. The message to Musharraf and the military
regime he led was clear: back off from aiding the foreign powers.
months later, in December 2004, Musharraf barely survived three
sophisticated attacks on his motorcade. The government admitted that
low-level military personnel had been involved in planning and executing
The U.S. response to September 11 led to a decade
of war and conflict in Pakistan that has proven to be hugely
destabilizing for the country, as Maleeha Lodhi, one of Pakistan's
best-known journalists and the ambassador to United States from 2000 to
2004, told me in an interview. Islamabad has long advised Washington to
work towards a diplomatic solution of the war in Afghanistan, she says,
and to differentiate between al-Qaeda and the Taliban. "It took a decade
of an unwinnable war in Afghanistan for the U.S. to seek a political
settlement. But in between much has been lost, for the region and its
stability, and for Pakistan."
According to figures presented to
Parliament this year, terror-related deaths have soared past 35,000 over
the past decade, including at least 3,500 military, paramilitary,
police, and intelligence personnel.
"During the last 10 years,
the direct and indirect cost of war on terror incurred by Pakistan
amounted to $67.93 billion or [Rupees] 5,037 billion," according to the
Economic Survey of Pakistan, published by the Ministry of Finance.
study reports that Pakistan's investment-to-GDP "ratio nosedived from
22.5 percent in 2006-07 to 13.4 percent in 2010-11 with serious
consequences for job creating ability of the economy."• • • • •
decade after 9/11, Pakistan's problems seem to be getting worse. Since
the killing of Osama bin Laden here on May 2 in a well-protected
Abbotabad compound, the spat between Washington and Islamabad has become
as bitter as it is public.
Senator John McCain, the former Republican candidate for presidency, publicly concluded
that Pakistan's powerful military intelligence branch, the
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), maintains ties with Taliban as well
as the even more violent Haqqani network. While most U.S. analysts have
held this view for years, for an American political leader as prominent
as McCain to say so reflects just how badly U.S.-Pakistan relations have
soured over the ISI-Taliban relationship.
rejected a U.S. proposal to open a consulate in the troubled province of
Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and is the only Pakistan
province without a U.S. consulate.
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
Cameron Munter has met little success in his repeated pushes for
Pakistan to launch a military operation in North Waziristan, where many
of the militant groups fighting in Afghanistan are based. A push into
North Waziristan, Munter reasons, would improve security in Afghanistan
and accelerate the U.S. withdrawal there.
leadership, including influential Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez
Kayani, have resisted U.S. pressure. But their reasons are often
"Washington cannot humiliate Pakistan by trampling
over its parliamentary resolutions against arbitrary killings through
drone-fired missiles," said retired Air Marshal Masood Akhter,
channeling the national outrage against the extensive U.S. drone program
in western Pakistan. He added that ground conditions were unfavorable
for a land operation in the tribal areas, especially North Waziristan,
as the U.S. wants. He cited the public anger there at the national
government and its allies in Afghanistan.
Last month, the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism released a study reporting
that 168 children had been killed in 291 drone strikes in Pakistan's
tribal areas since June 18, 2004. Roughly 80 percent of those strikes
occurred during Barack Obama's presidency.• • • • •
As with NATO's controversial "night raids
that have so enraged Afghans, many Pakistanis see the drone attacks as
violations of privacy and the Pakhtun code of conduct, locally called
"Pakhtunwali", justifying revenge.
A senior Pakistani official,
on the condition of anonymity, discussed the case of Bin Yameen, perhaps
the most feared militant in Pakistan's Swat region, who was driven by a
passion for revenge against the Pakistani military that had "invaded"
"Bin Yameen felt disgraced and dishonored for strangers
breaking into his home at night while he was asleep with his family and
after his release from jail, he joined the extremists in Swat valley to
slaughter captured security officials," the source recalled.
the first war brought Afghans, heroine, and Kalashnikovs in Pakistan,
it also left a deep imprint of F-16 on the Pakistan mind, probably the
most painted foreign object on our colorful buses and trucks," said
Malik Ramazan, a retired high school principal in central Pakistan's
Multan city, of the American fighter jet that became closely associated
with the U.S. and the war. "Now the Americans would be leaving images of
dreadful drones as an embarrassment to our sovereignty."
are few obvious Americans here for angry militants and would-be
militants to target for revenge, so it is Pakistan's security officials,
viewed as complicit, and civilians who are often made to pay.
Last month, a U.S. drone killed
18 people in Miranshah, a city in the North Waziristan tribal area. The next morning, two suicide bombers
claimed the lives of seven policemen in Peshawar.
tit-for-tat revenge war extends to the country's farthest southern
corner, the port city of Karachi, where containers of NATO military
supplies are loaded on to Afghanistan-bound trucks. The trucks are
frequently targeted by militants in Pakistan. "I am a lucky one to
survive with NATO cargo and sometimes fuel tankers as you never know
when the attackers emerge to disappear," said Ayub Afridi, who has been
driving the 18-wheelers for almost two years. Afridi's family has been
pressuring him to quit because they say he is serving the American
occupation.• • • • •
Amina Masood Janjua has been trying to find her husband since 2005. Once a housewife, Janjua's organization, Defence of Human Rights Pakistan
, has registered the cases of over 900 missing people in Pakistan..
pressing the government and the courts for our loved ones, we are also
trying to maintain the families' faith in the system lest they lose hope
and become too desperate," Janjua told me. She has been able to locate
some missings persons, sometimes by taking judicial action to
pressurePakistani intelligence agencies to set them free.
if the country's superior courts now enjoy unprecedented autonomy,
judicial process has been painfully slow and, often, the prosecution
"While there are hundreds of proven militants
behind the bars after Swat operation, we fear an equal number to be
innocents with no evidence or proof against them," said Shaukat Aziz
Siddiqui, a human rights lawyer in Rawalpindi. He worried that jails,
where hardened militants and suspects are not separated, are becoming
centers of radicalization.
Despite mushrooming checkpoints in Islamabad, insecurity and terrorism continue to grow.