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What Will The New Year Bring For Pakistan?
December 30, 2009
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church burnRelentless terrorist attacks killing over 2,200 civilians, a roller coaster ride for a nascent democracy, media-judiciary activism, and anti-Taliban military operations kept Pakistan in the headlines of global media outlets in 2009.

The year of 2009 will be remembered as the deadliest year in the history of Pakistan. Nearly a hundred terrorists blew themselves up, thousands of innocent people lost their lives and thousands more were brutally injured during the year.

The statistics also show that 2009 witnessed over 33 percent more attacks than 2008. Fifty-nine bombers struck in 2008 and 56 in 2007. The number of similar attacks was seven in 2006, four in 2005, seven in 2004 and two each in 2003 and 2002.

Throughout the country 2,257 civilians and 1,004 security personnel were killed in terrorist attacks. The reported number of militants killed during the year was over 8,000.

NWFP was the worst hit – 49 suicide attacks in 2009. During the same period, 22 suicide bombers succeeded to carry out attacks in various parts of Punjab and Islamabad.

indian muslimSeven suicide bombings rocked the federally administered tribal areas (Fata), while two bombers struck in Balochistan.

We could have said Sindh was the only exception- but forty people were killed and scores wounded in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi on December 28th when a suicide bomber struck country’s largest procession of Shia Muslims on the holiest day in their calendar.

January, July and September were comparatively peaceful. Nine suicide bombings were carried out across the country during the current month, nine each in October and November, four in September, six in August, four in July, nine in June, seven in May, six in April, seven each in March and February and three in January.

In the most horrendous of these bombings, 177 people, including a large number of women and children, were killed Oct 28 in a suicide attack at a crowded market in Peshawar, the NWFP capital.

The bombing at Parade Lane Mosque in Rawalpindi during the first week of December claimed the lives of several senior military officials, including a major general, two brigadiers and two colonels. The only son of the Corps Commander Peshawar was among several children of the army officers who lost their lives in this attack.

Several high-profile figures lost their lives in 2009 includes – two members of the NWFP Assembly, Dr Shamsher Ali Khan, killed in a suicide bombing in Swat last month and Mr. Alamzeb Khan,  killed in a roadside bomb attack on his car in Peshawar in January.

NWFP Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour survived a second suicide attack on March 11, which left six people including two suicide bombers dead.

Pakistan Spy ChiefEven the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency was not spared. The suicide bombers blasted a vehicle loaded with 100 kilograms of explosives near offices of the capital city police officer (CCPO) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Lahore on March 11. In the above attack 27 persons were killed and 326 others were injured. An ISI colonel and 15 police officials were among those killed.

An attack on an ISI facility in Peshawar in November killed 13 people and a similar attack in the Punjab town of Multan claimed 12 lives.

The suicide attack on the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar on June 9 and the huge blast in Soekarno Square on October 9 were the two other deadly blasts. Over 17 people were killed and over 60 wounded in the bombing in Peshawar’s lone five-star hotel, prompting foreigners and diplomats to leave the provincial capital. The blast in Soekarno Square left over 55 people killed and many wounded. It was later removed from the list of suicide bombings, and classified as a car bomb.

On June 5, a suicide bomber killed 49 worshippers, including 12 children, at a mosque in a remote village of Dir Upper District. Dozens more were injured as a young man with explosives fastened to his body exploded minutes before the Friday gathering in the Hayagay Sharqi village.

Two successive blasts killed around 50 people and injured more than 100 at the crowded Moon Market in Allama Iqbal Town of Lahore in Punjab. The two bombs exploded with an interval of 30 seconds.

Anti-Taliban military operations began in the NWFP in April 2009- when President Zardari was in Washington DC to meet President Obama and other American representatives. Within six months the military had managed to push the militants into their strongholds in South Waziristan.

With the armed forces turning to this region in October, the suicide attacks were seen as a last desperate bid to stave off the military assault.

On September 25 the US Senate unanimously passed the revised version of the Kerry-Lugar bill to triple non-military aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion per annum, pledging America’s long term commitment to its key ally against extremism. But this backfired!

We were in New York covering President Zardari’s activities at the UN general assembly and a grand meeting with ‘Friends of Democratic Pakistan.’ President Obama announced that the Senate had passed the bill during this meeting to a thunderous applause.

But the celebration did not last long. A correspondent of an English language daily newspaper received a call from a Pakistani Brigadier- I was standing so close that I could literally hear the conversation. “Email check ker laoo. Wadi problem hay adday wich,” {check your email. There are lots of problem} the voice on the end told my peer in Punjabi. This journalist promised his caller that it will be the lead story in his paper “tussi fikar hee na karo,” {you don’t have to worry}. After he got off the phone he showed me the email on his blackberry. The rest is history. Highly paid Pakistani journalists raised hell for four weeks before completely abandoning this issue.

Pakistan-protest-01And, then there was the NRO fiasco! This time around the same judge who was hired to the top Supreme Court job by a military dictator decided to weaken the democratic setup. President Zardari found the ground swept away from under his feet when the Supreme Court invalidated the 2007 National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) on Dec 16. The ordinance had granted immunity from corruption charges to his slain wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, himself, along with  hundreds of politicians and bureaucrats, enabling many to return home from exile.

The NRO, issued by former president Pervez Musharraf, had scrapped all corruption cases against politicians and bureaucrats filed between January 1986 and October 1999 on the grounds that they may have been politically motivated. The court has now ruled that the cases would be restored.

The entire year of 2009 evokes distressing memories of terrorism, bloodshed, deceit and conspiracies against the people of Pakistan.

ECONOMY

Interestingly enough, 2009 was a better year for Pakistan rupees than 2008. Forex analysis website, Dollars Magazine reports that the Pak rupee weakened 6.17 percent in 2009 after losing 22.12 percent in 2008. For Pakistan, the lesser loss was the good news of 2009.

A note on Facebook from another Pakistani journalist Beena Sarwar proclaiming  that We shall overcome” leaves me optimistic that 2010 will bring peace and stability.  But, it will take the Pakistani people to rise up and demand that all state officials and institutions respond effectively to this crisis and begin making the welfare and interests of its citizens an urgent priority.

About author

Ibrahim Sajid Malick

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There are 12 comments

  • Malik Rashid says:

    I would like to share your optimism but reality indicates tough times ahead for Pakistan. The state is in shambles. Lawlessness of the army/ISI by intruding in politics and undermining the democratic will of the people has found new allies. Terrorism is on the rise and economy is running out of oxygen. I would like to hope for a better future but my sight is bloodied by the current mayhem.

  • aslam says:

    what do you expect us say?
    malik – you can’t guess what is going on in Pakistan – or if you do – you would be one of those journalists – who’d like to be paid for americans, isi, cia, mI5/6 or some N-legue/leftist,rightist,middle parties in that dummy democratic system.

    let me ask one simple question – IS Democracy a Revange – Haaha – leave this word which any illitrate can read from those thuosand giagantic billboards put by minister of Baldiat sindh, CM sindh, the homeminister sindh and blah blah bhah.

    the simple question is – IS DEMOCRACY A SOLUTION FOR PAKISTAN – I think no – Paksitani nation is dead already – someone like Mao can only wake them – and nothing else – they are divided in their stupid languages and stupid cultures and stupid ethnicities and stupid casts and stupid sects – and stupid philosophies – and stupid NATURE.

    I guess its time to leave country – the same fashion way everybody rational in here is leaving.

  • mudassir says:

    @aslam: Democracy is the only solution. Even Mao’s China had to recognize the power of democracy. Had they not heeded the protestors of Tinnamen Square, CHina will not be a super power.

  • Sagheer says:

    @Malik Rashid: Optimism is poor man’s only medicine. You must be rich if you have other choices.

  • chameleon47 says:

    some muslims have a serious problem with reality… its like pakistani nationalists. they actually believe the taliban rebellion against their kufr law is all a big US / israeli conspiracy against them and their ‘islamic government’.

    Sometimes it is easier to paint the person who is doing more than them as evil, some how wrong, therefore not feeling so bad themselves about being such a moral cowards and not openly forbidding the munkar.

  • Humaira Asad says:

    Pakistan in Year 2009. What’s left behind?

  • Syed Saqib Zia says:

    MAY ALLAH BLESS AND SAVE “PAKISTAN”

    MAY ALLAH MAKE THIS MOB AS A “NATION”

    MAY ALLAH GIVE PAKISTAN SUCCESS AT EVERY STEP

    “AMEEN”

  • Ali says:

    Democracy in current form that has been imposed upon us is not the solution. Equal vote 4 all is only workable in a 100 % literate society and with ppl with developed IQ. Our solution is Islamic way of democracy.

    Things will certainly improve if only graduates are to vote not every one. Illiterates are in majority in our country so current form of democracy can only elect Illiterates and rest assured they dont have the vision to take Pakistan ahead.

    There is no way we are going ahead with this form of democracy. Quite frankly it is so embarassing tht my vote being a PHD is equal to my peon who does not even know what is constitution.

  • Sagheer says:

    @Ali:
    Islam is not inherently incompatible with democracy. “Political Islam” is sometimes a program for religious democracy and not primarily an agenda for holy war or terrorism.

    Tunisian Islamist leader and contemporary Islamic scholar Rashid Ghanoushi points out: “If by democracy is meant the liberal model of government prevailing in the West, a system under which the people freely choose their representatives and leaders, in which there is an alternation of power, as well as all freedoms and human rights for the public, then Muslims will find nothing in their religion to oppose democracy, and it is not in their interests to do so.” Many Muslims, including Ghanoushi himself, go beyond this and view democracy as an appropriate way to fulfill certain obligations of the faith in the contemporary world.

    The Islamic tradition contains a number of key concepts that are key to “Islamic democracy.” Most would agree that it is important for Muslims not simply to copy what non-Muslims have done in creating democratic systems, because there are different forms that legitimate democracy can take. Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami, in a television interview in June before that country’s presidential elections, noted that “the existing democracies do not necessarily follow one formula or aspect. It is possible that a democracy may lead to a liberal system. It is possible that democracy may lead to a socialist system. Or it may be a democracy with the inclusion of religious norms in the government. We have accepted the third option.” Khatami presents a view common among the advocates of Islamic democracy that “today world democracies are suffering from a major vacuum, which is the vacuum of spirituality,” and that Islam can provide the framework for combining democracy with spirituality and religious government.

    Your argument of a PhD abd a peon is NOT Islamic at all. It is rather a neo-con argument lodged by those who want to to defeat Islam.

  • Sajid says:

    is kanjar nay pehli baar kuch behtar likha hai

  • Mohsin Ali says:

    @ chameleon47:
    No Pakistani will have bad views about US and Israel if they become fair in building peace in Middle East and other parts of the world. We’ll respect them.

  • Mohsin Ali says:

    @ Syed Saqib Zia:
    Aamin…. Sum Aamin. Allah tumhari dua kubool karay!!!

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