A tale of two cases

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The drop scene was dramatic and rapid. Before the more die-hard activists could say national honour or sell-out, Raymond Davis had already been jetted out of the country his freedom bought with the blood money paid by whom it was not clear.

Once the heirs of the two men shot to death had signed on the dotted line and accepted the payout (thanks to that great soldier of Islam and the US benefactor of the 1980s, Zias Hudood Laws legacy), all legal hitches were removed with such alacrity that must have made those cringe who suffer in silence for long years at the hands of our infamous lower judiciary.

But then Davis was no ordinary Joe. He was the gun-happy spark that had on its own brought the US-Pakistan relations to such a new low.

Though flown out of the jail sometime Wednesday, Davis release perhaps had already been assured some time back, at an Omani resort in the last week of February. It is said to be the outcome of the meetings of the US and Pakistani brass and the honchos of the CIA and the ISI there with the Saudi intelligences keen and active assistance in the backdrop but ever-present. There, reports suggest, the ISI got the quid pro quo from its US counterpart that the former had so vehemently pitched for before pledging that the American spook getting free would be assisted.

There is some speculation as to what concessions did the ISI get out of this long-drawn brinkmanship? In the main, it came down to the CIA committing to close its undeclared activities across Pakistan another dangerous and humiliating muck that was the legacy of the Musharraf years when so much that was avoidable was yielded by the commando general.

Also such CIA operations had already been per force scaled down, for so many CIA contractors had reportedly fled the country in the aftermath of Davis arrest. Then the cache of cell and satellite phones and other communication equipment seized from the gung-ho gunslinger also afforded no mean help to our spooks to get to the bottom of many a CIA initiative. Be that as it may, the CIAs measurably folding its operations nevertheless is a positive development.

But is it the end of the crisis? Would it result in the reprisals by the militants? It remains to be seen, but it is about time that the powers that be that encourage the handpicked few on the satellite channels and through discourse in the print media realise that taking the frenzy to such a high pitch has its consequences.

Now to the other chilling incident in the countrys south-west: kidnapping of Niloufar Abadan, the Zoroastrian (or Parsi) lady whose husband had met the same fate nine years back, in Quetta. This is common knowledge that things in Balochistan are getting close to hopeless. Instances of missing persons, targeted killings, sectarian violence, blowing up of gas pipelines and the odd assassination are so rampant that these happen one day and are forgotten the next.

That is, except by the victims or the directly affected. Simultaneously, kidnapping for ransom is also on the rise in the country, and ominously, the sufferers in some high-profile cases, especially in the FATA, have been the minorities. The abductors partiality towards the minorities only seems to be incidental and though it definitely allows the atrocity the religious cover, to them anyone who can cough up the ransom is game.

As for Balochistan, there are so many questions, and really no answers. The air is filled with confusing alarms and allegations: sometimes the foreign hand is behind the insurgency, then no, it is Brahmdagh Bugti who is the villain of the piece, or our friendly Eastern neighbour, or our brotherly (once upon a time) south-western neighbour, or the consulates in Kandahar and Herat, with Raw, Mossad, CIA, or MI6 thrown in for good measure.

The resource-intensive province is unfortunately being ruled by a brigade of incompetent and opportunistic ministers, tribal leaders and turncoats whose only interest is self interest and who possess little understanding of the intricate art of governance. But the big question is: Where is the government of Pakistan and its writ? It would not be fair to not to mention the so ubiquitous agencies, for their signature at queering the pitch cannot be ignored.

The case of Faridoun and Niloufar Abadan, who was running the familys ages-old brewery business by staying put in Quetta and trying to recover her husband at the same time, is horrific. It goes without saying that the government and the many security agencies would remain as helpless in rescuing the courageous Mrs Abadan as they were in her still-abducted (whether he is alive or dead cannot be said) husband since 2002.

Was it the nature of the business that invited the wrath of the kidnappers, or was it simply the smell of big money? Both kidnappings though are inter-connected and it is hardly likely that the ransom money would not be spent on charitable or humanitarian causes!

The commercially adept Zoroastrians are a dwindling people worldwide because of their religious belief (now slowly crumbling among the West-settled expatriates) of not marrying outside their co-religionists. Almost an extinct species, it is not for this reason alone that all the might of the Pakistani state must be mobilised for their recovery. It is for our credibility, and our global image that lies in tatters, especially after the earlier high-profile cases where the minorities were targeted with gay abandon. It is to redeem these and to send a clear message to the perpetrators, the traumatised minorities and the common man that the husband and wife must be rescued whatever it takes.

The writer is Sports and Magazines Editor, Pakistan Today.