The present security and political scenario in Pakhtun lands can best be described through three interesting quotes from Shakespeare’s play, ‘King Lear’:
Come not between the dragon and his wrath
Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!
No rescue? What, a prisoner?
The dastardly horrible terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University Charsadda (the ancient Pushklavati), a suburban district of Peshawar valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, on 20th January 2016 on the 28th death anniversary of peace and non-violence icon Bacha Khan raised several questions in the length and breadth of the Pakhtun lands. Instead of responding to the poignant queries, the state of Pakistan and the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ruled by Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), came up with a few interesting explanations.
The first explanation was about the source of the attack. The mainstream media of Pakistan reported high ups of the security establishment of Pakistan to have stated that terrorists came from Afghanistan with the support of some abettors. Adding salt to the injuries of the victims, this statement was perceived by all and sundry in Pakhtunkhwa to be a diversionary tactic by the state institutions and the provincial government. The chief minister of the PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government even went too far by suggesting that ‘the Afghan Refugees’ be sent back to Afghanistan.
The second interesting diversion was created by constructing and reiterating the narratives of ‘sacrifice’ and ‘martyrdom’. The mainstream print and electronic media was flooded with ‘analyses’ and ‘statements’ that created an environment of emotional upsurge instead of objective opinion-making. An effort was made to divert the question ‘why Pakhtuns only’ to something like hyper state nationalist hyperbole.
The third interesting development took place when a ‘probe committee’ was established by the Apex Committee on January 22 2016. The officials of district administration and officials of police constituted the probe committee which was asked ‘to investigate security arrangements on the day of the attack on the Bacha Khan University (BKU) in Charsadda’. The constitution of the committee was questioned by many for ‘conflict of interest’ and for the ‘narrow and tunneled scope’ of the investigation. Clear and loud voices were heard that the Pashtuns of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wanted an independent judicial inquiry into the attack to investigate all aspects of the attack. The students, teachers and civil society of the Pashtun lands during their wide spread demonstrations against the attack demanded from the provincial government and state institutions to take responsibility for securing of life and property of the people . They resolved not to be impressed by the diversionary tactics and by the narrative of ‘sacrifice’ and ‘martyrdom’.
The so called probe committee came up with interesting recommendations on Jan 29 2016. Instead of holding those responsible for law enforcement and security of the life, property and educational institutions, the probe committee recommended removal of the Vice Chancellor of the Bacha Khan University for ‘lapse of security’.
The recommendations of the probe committee are questioned on several counts. First, the terms of reference of a university’s head never includes ‘security’. Second, no intelligence or security or law enforcement agency works under a vice chancellor. Third, security, law enforcement and intelligence agencies work either under Chief Minister of a province or under Federal Interior Ministry. Four, heads of local administration, police and intelligence agencies are directly responsible for security and law enforcement. Five, experts believe that TORs of the probe committee should have included wide ranging causes instead of security arrangements on the day of the attack. The TORs should have included intelligence reports about the university, terrorist spaces in Charsadda, passing of intelligence to IGP, Corps Head Quarters, Commissioner, DIG, DC and DPO.
The eye wash report of the probe committee leaves several questions unanswered. It is widely believed that the Vice Chancellor has been made scapegoat for the criminal negligence of the state institutions and the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Moreover, many argue that academic research by Dr. Fazl-ur-Rahim Marwat, the academician who heads the Bacha Khan University, indicates that he has carried out studies on Khudai Khidmatgaar Movement, Pashtun history and society with an objective and progressive outlook. He is perhaps punished for his research and academic work.
The boiling emotions among the people of Pakhtunkhwa make it incumbent upon the federal and provincial governments and state institutions to reject the report of the probe committee immediately and constitute an independent high level judicial inquiry into the attack of the Bacha Khan University. The state has to take responsibility.
Writer: Dr. Khadim Hussain, Director Baacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation
The writer can be reached at
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