It can be argued that Thursday’s bombing took place because no concrete action was taken after last month’s bombing at the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine; nor indeed the ghastly attacks before that on two Muharram processions in December and February. All three attacks, like this one, were claimed by the Pakistani Taliban (the TTP). This attack came ostensibly in the wake of some high profile Lashkar-i-Jhangvi —read Taliban/al Qaeda — accused who were arraigned this morning in a court of law and were being kept at the CID centre in police remand.
It is a measure of the failure of law enforcement agencies and lack of coordination among various government departments that such high profile accused were being kept in a building that did not have a maximum security prison regime in place. Media reports also speak of the breakdown of the police van which was carrying the said accused back to the CID centre from the court earlier in the day, with no police reinforcements following the vehicle. If this is the state of our preparedness in combating terrorism, which has reached our doorsteps, then help us God.
However, to give the devil his due, if you were to ask the police they would tell you that their best trained anti-terrorism teams are deputed on protecting the VIPs. This obviously leaves the Taliban and the like-minded elements all the leverage over the situation. They can strike with impunity at the time and place of their own choosing, as they have been doing in other cities of the country.
This bombing, however, given its precision and intensity as well as the target hit, should serve as a final wake up all to law enforcement agencies and the authorities concerned in Karachi. In a city where tens of agencies work without a central coordination mechanism — some are even accused of working at cross-purposes at times — virtually every place with public access is a soft target.
Consider the location of the CID building that was raised to the ground by a bombing that the Sindh home minister likened to the bombing of the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad in sheer terms of its intensity. It is located in what is known as the de facto red zone, with high profile government functionaries and law enforcement agencies housed at a stone’s throw. The Chief Minister House, the US consulate, the Mariott, Sheraton, Pearl Continental Hotel and the Rangers Headquarters are only a few yards away from the targeted building.
This, while two of the said hotels, the US consulate, the PIDC building and the KFC outlet located next to it have all been the scene of earlier bombings. The Governor House, Karachi Gymkhana and Karachi Club, the State Guest House, and the heart of the city’s business district are also not too far off from the venue of the attack; and neither are the thousands of shantytown dwellers along the railway track behind the CID centre, a majority of whom do not even figure in Nadra records; so many of those who were killed or maimed existed only in flesh and blood, when that’s gone, not even a trace of their existence remains.
The assault on the CID centre must be seen for truly what it tells us in plain words: that home grown terrorism is no Indian, Jewish or American conspiracy against Pakistan or Islam. It also tells us that there are many misguided Pakistanis in our midst, who may even have sympathy for these zealots targeting largely Muslims that would not endorse their narrow minded view of the faith under whose banner they kill and maim innocent citizens. How else does one explain the transportation of a van full of explosives along with a firing squad armed with latest weapons that came to attack the CID building during the evening rush hour no less?
Much of Islam as we know it in this country today, isn’t exactly in very safe hands; it’s time we woke up to the threat and did something about it instead of issuing token mere condemnations that follow such ghastly acts of sheer murder and mayhem, from Islamabad to the provincial capitals and the other Pakistani capital of sorts, in exile, the faraway London.
Will the citizens of Karachi respond any differently to register their outrage against this dastardly attack than those of Lahore and Peshawar have done so far remains to be seen.