Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Daily Times Editorial Aug 20, 2015
Godil attacked Four attackers on two motorcycles ambushed and critically wounded Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MNA Abdul Rashid Godil in Karachi on the morning of August 18. His driver was killed in the attack whereas his wife remained mercifully unharmed. Godil received five bullets from a nine mm pistol that apparently was never before used in any previous similar attack to make forensic tracing difficult. The attackers seemed to have excellent intelligence on Godil’s schedule and movements. The attack came while Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) was at the MQM’s nine zero headquarters for talks with the party’s leadership to try and woo them back to the Assemblies from which they had resigned en masse recently. The timing set off speculations whether the attack on Godil may have been meant to sabotage the talks, which seemed to be making progress. It may be recalled that the MQM had resigned from the Assemblies quoting a host of demands and concerns, the main one being their assertion that the Karachi operation by the Rangers was targeting the party alone. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, talking to the media after the incident, praised the MQM’s restrained response to the provocation, revealing that the MQM leadership would continue the talks in Islamabad in the next few days. What was notable indeed was the MQM’s restrained reaction to the attack on Godil, a senior leader and parliamentarian of the MQM, who had until Farooq Sattar took over, been the parliamentary leader of the party in the National Assembly. No claim of responsibility was available, nor were the police and investigating authorities clear on who might be behind the attack. Meanwhile Godil is still critical in hospital after emergency surgery, although the hopeful sign is that he is now off the ventilator the doctors had put him on because of breathing difficulties due to the bullet wounds in his chest. However, the doctors still say the next 24 hours are critical for the injured MQM parliamentarian. While the attack on Godil is a serious blow to the claims of the authorities that peace has been by and large restored in Karachi due to the Rangers’ operation, the mystery of who and why they carried out the dastardly attack remains unsolved so far. There have been of course the usual outpourings of condemnations and sympathy across the board, but given the climate of tragedy after tragedy on Pakistan’s soil, including the assassination by a suicide bomber of Punjab Home Minister Colonel (retd) Shuja Khanzada the other day, these fail to satisfy or even apply any soothing balm to the country’s festering wounds. Although there is no claim of responsibility so far or even any clue about the suspects, it may bear keeping in mind that the al Qaeda chief in Karachi was killed earlier the same morning along with an accomplice in a shootout with the security forces that also took its toll of the life of a security agency officer. The operation was an intelligence-led effort. Whether there is any link between the taking out of the al Qaeda Karachi chief and the attack on Godil is not known. However, it is not beyond the realm of possibility. After all, who would be interested in sabotaging the talks to bring the MQM back to the Assemblies or attempting to destabilise Karachi? Normally, whoever carried out the attack on Godil would have expected, at the very least, a complete shutdown of Karachi, as has been the pattern of the MQM reaction to similar incidents in the past. Perhaps it is a mercy that the MQM is under pressure and has its hands full trying to cope with the Rangers’ operation in Karachi. Its restrained reaction and willingness to continue the dialogue with Maulana Fazlur Rehman may owe something at least to this factor. The nature of asymmetrical warfare is such that it relies on surprise, unexpected attacks in unexpected places and on unexpected targets. If under pressure by the army’s counter-insurgency operations in FATA, it is almost inevitable that the terrorists will seek to ease the pressure and put the authorities on the back foot by striking soft targets elsewhere throughout the country. The two attacks in recent days, the one that killed Khanzada and the one that critically wounded Godil, may well belong in this sphere. That only underlines the protracted and complex nature of the war against the terrorists, an enterprise that requires the forging of a united will of all the people and forces of Pakistan for this crucial task.