Abbas Town bombing: Why they didn’t come sooner
There has been much speculation and discussion about the delayed police response following the Abbas Town bombing. The unfortunate Sharmila Farooqi has become everyone’s favorite punching bag for having a large police contingent protecting her engagement celebration. Everyone from the Chief Minister to the Inspector General Police has taken flak for emergency responders not arriving for at least an hour after the blasts.
Given the insensitivity and disregard of the political elite and senior bureaucracy for the awam, it is entirely conceivable that the diversion of resources for Ms. Farooqi’s event played a role in the delayed response. However, this has been neither fully verified thus far, nor can it logically explain the delay in its entirety.
While a number of other conceivable factors might explain the one hour lag (or longer according to some sources), the real reason for the delay might be quite simple and very frightening, upon further analysis. Fear – an uncomplicated, yet powerful emotion. It is very likely that the basic human instinct of survival and self-preservation kept the police and emergency responders away from the scene for a significant amount of time.
What were they afraid of you might wonder? A double-strike; a favorite terrorist tactic and one that LeJ employed with deadly results on Alamdar Road in Quetta. I quote, from a story published about the Quetta bombing on this website on January 11th, 2013:
Police sources said that the first blast took place in a snooker club on Alamdar Road when people were busy playing the game. Several people were killed or injured in the blast. “A man entered the snooker club and a powerful blast took place,” they said, adding that it appeared to be a suicide attack.
Police, workers of Edhi Trust and media teams rushed to the place soon after the first blast and started taking the injured to hospital.
A second blast took place 10 minutes after the first blast outside the snooker club when a large number of people, police and rescue workers gathered there. A majority of people were killed and injured in the second blast.
If this line of reasoning is true – and it is surprising that this aspect has not come up for debate in any meaningful way – the ramifications are chilling to say the least. What we may be witnessing is a collapse and capitulation of the political state in the face of a militant onslaught.
LeJ’s message with the consecutive Quetta bombings was clear: Those who assist our enemies are fair game as well. Did the state’s security apparatus take this message to heart? It seems very likely. What does this mean for the awam with regard to future terrorist attacks? Quite simple: You’re on your own …until the coast is clear, at least. Especially if you happen to be a minority group.
Other signs of capitulation (if needed)? Everyone and their mother jumping on Maulana Fazl Ur Rehman’s APC bandwagon for peace talks with the TTP – a group that has wreaked havoc on the state and continues to do so, relentlessly. The political leadership’s message to the TTP then: We give up, we can’t take this anymore; please stop targeting us (concern for the awam might not be a major factor in this message, considering its campaign season).
Finally, the million dollar question, which many concerned citizens, activists, and talking heads are vocalising: Where is the army and why is it not acting? General Kayani’s response to the awam seems equally clear: You voted for this lot, now live with them.
Regarding the direction in which Pakistan may be heading if this state of affairs continues unabated, it might be fitting to end with a well-known quote:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
The writer is a communications consultant based in Washington DC.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.