The sectarian monster

On Friday, we saw Quetta as the scene of a sectarian killing first and then a follow-up suicide bombing. Gunmen killed Arshad Zaidi, a banker, as he was coming out of his office. He was the son of the chief of the Shia Conference Balochistan. Mr Zaidi’s body was taken to a hospital where hundreds of people, including a local parliamentarian and dozens of journalists, reached after hearing the news of this targeted killing. At least 11 people, including a journalist, were killed and dozens more were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the hospital. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for the attack. We witnessed a similar modus operandi in Karachi after the attack on the Chehlum procession followed by an attack at the Jinnah Hospital where the injured were taken. It seems as if the sectarian monsters have found another way of inflicting maximum damage.

Like the rest of Pakistan, the scourge of sectarianism has not left Balochistan untouched. Sectarian attacks in Balochistan are nothing new. There have been attacks on Imambargahs, Ashura processions, and targeted killing of Shias. What begs the question is why the state has let the evil force of sectarianism spread its tentacles so freely and blatantly. Sectarian outfits all over the country, particularly in South Punjab, have been pampered by the state and allowed to run riot since General Ziaul Haq’s time. It is surprising to see that at a time when Pakistan is waging a war against terrorism, nothing has been done against sectarian terrorism. The Taliban are known to have violated and challenged the writ of the state, which is why the state and the armed forces have launched an offensive against them. But is it not the responsibility of the state to deal with other forms of terrorism with the same iron fist? The state of Pakistan is bearing the brunt of harbouring terrorists, including sectarian terrorists, for many years. Now that the state is finally taking some terrorists head on, it is about time that the sectarian outfits are brought to book for spreading hate, bitterness and terror in the country.

A new pattern that has emerged recently is to target the hospital where the dead or the injured have been taken immediately after an attack. Hospitals are naturally vulnerable but nobody in their right mind could possibly consider attacking a place where people are being treated and lives being saved. This just goes to prove that terrorists have no respect for human life.

When a terrorist attack occurs or someone is murdered in a target killing, the media should act responsibly instead of being in a race for ‘breaking news’. The media should not have unfettered access to the emergency wards in case of a situation where the doctors are struggling hard to save lives. This can only happen when all hospitals make it a rule that a senior doctor would brief the media at an appropriate time. As for cases of medical negligence, all hospitals should have a credible internal review system of such incidents instead of leading the public and media to speculate and allege negligence without necessarily any proof of the same. The recent controversy regarding the doctors and journalists in Lahore demonstrated that there is a need to evolve a strategy to avoid such scuffles. The media thrives on ratings while doctors are constantly under pressure while saving lives. Media organisations need to guide their reporters to follow proper media ethics in situations like these. Hospitals are not wrestling rings; they are life-saving institutions. As responsible citizens, we all need to pitch in to deal with such difficult situations in an ethical and responsible manner.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

Comments

r4nj33t said…
You are a good writer. Carry on with your good work. Hope to hear more from you.
mehmal said…
Thank you :)
Anonymous said…
Your movies choices are appauling if not despicable.
mehmal said…
Thank you :P
Sadia said…
The sectarian terrorism is the facet of violence, more and more attacks are being directed at minority sects, the attacks in Karachi in mohrram and then the blast at an IDP camp in kohat are indicative that sectarian outfits have joined hands with Taliban and Al-Qaeda. It is imperative that the state take strict action against these groups or else we can witness sporadic communal violence.

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