Government failing to protect people: Pakistani media

The Pakistani government was "failing in its duty" to protect its citizens, an editorial in a leading English daily said on Friday, a day after a senior Army officer was gunned down here.

Last Updated: Oct 23, 2009, 13:47 PM IST

Islamabad: The Pakistani government was "failing in its duty" to protect its citizens, an editorial in a leading English daily said on Friday, a day after a senior Army officer was gunned down here, perhaps in the mistaken belief that he was involved in the ongoing operations against the Taliban in the restive northwest.
Another editorial lamented that the military offensive had severely hit cultural events in the country.

"Our police and security services are unwilling or unable to enforce even straightforward attempts to protect the populace. The ordinary people of Pakistan going about their daily business can see for themselves at every turn of the road that the state is failing in its duty to protect them," The News said in an editorial headlined "Moving targets".

"We need to be hearing from our leaders what it is that they propose to do to remedy the situation," the editorial added.

Brigadier Moinuddin Ahmed, a former deputy director general of military operations, was killed by gunmen who ambushed his jeep at 8.30 am on Thursday, three days after twin blasts killed seven people in the International Islamic University campus here. He was the head of the Pakistan military contingent with the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan. He was home on leave and was due to return to his duties in Sudan on Friday.

The News thought he could have been targeted because of his previous stint in the military operations directorate "in the assumption that he still was and had a hand in the management of the South Waziristan operation now underway".

"The terrorists who murdered Brig Moin may have had flawed intelligence and killed him believing his duties were elsewhere, but we have lost another valuable and experienced officer to an enemy that has the capacity, at a variety of levels, to bring this country to a shuddering halt.”

"The education system is on hold with the expectation that when most schools and colleges will re-open next week, sharpshooters are to be deployed atop key buildings in the hope of stopping them being attacked. A sense of insecurity and fear now envelops the entire population," the editorial contended.

The Pakistani government on Tuesday shut educational institutions across the country in the wake of the Islamabad university attack. Schools and colleges run by the armed forces were shut Sunday, a day after the South Waziristan operation began.

According to Dawn, the theatre of war might have expanded to South Waziristan, but "it is far from business as usual in other parts of the country. In Lahore, amongst the prime victims of the deteriorating security situation are the many cultural activities that were, in happier times, emblematic of the city".

Since the recent spate of terror attacks in the city, "cinema audiences have dropped by about 80 percent. Commercial theatres have suffered similarly. The fear of a terror attack, particularly in view of the militants` opposition to cultural activities, is a significant deterrent", the editorial, headlined "Culture takes a hit", maintained.

It also noted that the Ajoka theatre`s Panj Pani festival had to be shifted abroad "and there are reports that the annual Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop Performing Arts Festival, which has for years acted as Pakistan`s ambassador to the world`s theatrical circuit, may not be held this time. The Lahore Arts Council has for similar reasons been forced to cancel the International Urdu Conference. Concerts have become a thing of the past", the editorial said.

"As Lahore`s once-vibrant cultural scene fades, great damage is being done to the country`s emerging presence on the world`s literary and performing arts stages. More importantly, the decline represents a serious loss of income for thousands employed in the entertainment sector. The livelihoods of persons in the film, theatre and music industries are insecure even during ordinary times.”

"The uncertain security situation is likely to push into poverty those who were formerly financially stable. The loss to the city`s cultural heritage, meanwhile, is incalculable," the editorial maintained.