No strikes, no closures, please

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Stand up to the militants with courage

The TTP has made no secret of its antipathy for democracy which it considers un-Islamic. Soon after the announcement of the elections, the militant network vowed to target three secular political parties and warned the people against attending their rallies. The biggest sufferer so far has been the ANP, which has lost two candidates in terrorist attacks besides two others who survived bomb blasts. Several election rallies of the party have so far been targeted. The ANP has in fact borne the major brunt of TTP attacks during its five-year tenure in KP. Former information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain lost his son and the ANP’s veteran leader Bashir Bilour died in a blast while dozens of provincial and district level leaders were killed as they continued to defy the terrorists. Militant outfits have also targeted independent candidates in KP, especially in DIK. An MQM candidate was also killed in Hyderabad while four persons died in an attack near the party’s election camp in Karachi. There are other terrorist groups also attacking election rallies and candidates. On Wednesday a suicide bomber dispatched by Lashkare Jhangvi to target the Hazara community killed six in Quetta. The president of Hazara Democratic Movement returning from an election rally survived due to sheer good luck. Baloch separatists have launched several attacks on the Baloch leaders during the last few days. The firing on PML-N Balochistan chief Sanaullah Zehri killed his brother and son. A grenade was thrown on the house of former minister and NP chief Abdul Malik Baloch and an office of the BNP-M was bombed.

There is a need to stand up to the challenge posed by the terrorists. One expects the caretaker government to perform better than it has done so far to counter the threat. A totally new set up with a life span of a month and a half can however be expected to deliver only if the law enforcement agencies were already working ideally. In Karachi where law and order continued to deteriorate during the five-year long tenure of the PPP, the MQM and the ANP alliance, it would be too much to expect miracles from the caretakers.

The MQM should not have closed its offices and called off the election campaign even for a single day. To announce a strike all over Sindh was thoroughly unjustified. The tactic to close down Karachi could work only when used to pressurize a minority government depending on the MQM support to retain power at the center. In the present case it was a kneejerk reaction to an altogether different situation. One fails to understand the rationale behind the strike. It doesn’t matter to the TTP if Karachi is closed down for a week while a single day closure hurts the country’s economy badly. The MQM should face the situation bravely as done by the ANP, Baloch nationalists and Hazara Democratic Party.