Playing with fire

Nato suppliesDespite the earlier assurances that banned outfits will not be allowed to hold a rally in Islamabad, the DPC, which also includes several organisations of the sort, held a public meeting and took out a march in the federal capital.

 As an understanding between the relevant quarters, three leaders of banned groups were disallowed to enter the city. Lesser leaders of the outfits, however, spoke on the occasion. What is more the crowd mostly comprised the activists of these groups working under different names.Almost every speaker called for jihad against the US which was accused of interfering in Balochistan through “American terrorists”. Instead of realising that the rise of militancy in the province was in the main the outcome of decades of neglect and use of military force, killing of Nawab Aklbar Bugti, forced disappearances and custodial killings, the US was accused of supporting the secessionists in the province.

The speakers also warned that if Nato supplies were allowed, sit-ins will be held all over the country. What is more, the protestors would use force to stop the Nato tankers. Threats of violence came also from former DG ISI Hameed Gul who said in his speech that their (DPC’s) protests would turn violent if the government did not change course. The issue of the resumption of Nato supplies is on the Parliament’s agenda which alone is qualified to take a decision over the matter.

Threats of the sort are tantamount to dictating to the Parliament. Some of the speakers maintained that they would not allow the Parliament to give India MFN status.The government has to discourage the trend of settling issues of national importance by recourse to force. The establishment needs to ponder over the implications of the stand taken by the DPC leaders.

If moves of the sort are not discouraged at the initial stage, they can go out of hand and push the country into anarchy, as several examples from the past indicate. The establishment must not allow the pursuit of short term goals to jeopardise the long term interests of the country. While freedom of speech is guaranteed under the constitution, incitement to violence constitutes a criminal offence. There is a need to rein in the preachers of violence before it is too late. – PT