Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
A spate of gun and bomb attacks seen as a response to the Pakistan Army’s offensive in South Waziristan has sent jitters across Pakistan, including in the normally peaceful capital Islamabad.
Conventional wisdom would have it that the attacks on both security services and civilians would eventually turn the people against Islamist militants rather as happened in Iraq at the height of the violence there. But as yet, there is no sign of a clear and coherent leadership emerging that might be able to forge a consensus against the militants.
“Where are you, our leaders?” asks Cyril Almeida in a column in Dawn newspaper. “As the country burns, parents agonise over whether to send their children to school or not, offices of businesses local and foreign ramp up their security measures, the average citizen thinks twice before venturing into crowded locales or government buildings, a simple question for our leaders: where are you? Where are you, President Zardari? Where are you, Prime Minister Gilani? Where are you, Nawaz Sharif?”
“The limitations of our political class are well known,” he writes. “Our politicians are venal, corrupt and weak. We have to muddle through with them because they are all we have. Expecting statesmanship is futile. But as the country burns and the people cower in fear, we must ask: for the love of God and all things that can be good, can they not for once, if only for a little while, stand up and be counted?”
A suicide truck bomber hit the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday, killing at least 40 people, wounding nearly 250 and starting a huge fire.
The explosion came hours after President Asif Ali Zardari made his first address to parliament a few hundred metres away, calling for terrorism to be rooted out.