Falling on deaf ears

Top Saudi cleric Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh’s Haj sermon on Monday, asking Muslims to eschew divisions, chaos and sectarianism and safeguard their nation’s security and stability, inspired the faithful but could have little effect on those deaf to the voice of anything other than violence.

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Published: Sat 19 Oct 2013, 11:48 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:49 AM

Even as Pakistan celebrated the holy occasion of Eid Al Adha, a suicide bomber struck in the north-west, killing provincial law minister Isarullah Gandapur and at least seven more people. What added to the horror of the carnage was that the assailant came in the guise of one celebrating the festival, hugging his intended victim before detonating the bomb, a gesture reminiscent of Judas kissing Jesus before condemning him to death. The killings, coming close on the heels of the church attack in Peshawar, raise fresh doubts about the sincerity of the Taleban about the peace talks to which they have repeatedly been invited by the government.

The relentless bloodshed has increased the pressure on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to act, one way or another. While the fresh killings give ammunition to those who had always doubted the sincerity of the Taleban and advocated strong-arm measures, even those who are still clinging to the hope of dialogue are not rising above partisan politics. Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, still favours talks though his party has lost three leaders to terror attacks in less than six months. However, at a time the political parties should cast aside differences and put up a united front against terrorism, Khan has been finding faults with Sharif’s government. Pakistan’s politicians have been at one another’s throats, eyeing the seat of power and oblivious to national interests.

Sharif is also under attack from slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party. Her son and party chief Bilawal Zardari-Bhutto turned the memorial meeting for her assassination six years ago to a rambling diatribe that had more passion than sense and was intended more to play to the gallery than do anything constructive. It is ironical that six years after Benazir Bhutto’s death Pakistan still continues to be plagued by violence and wanton destruction, raising serious doubts about its fate. Pakistan’s GDP growth has dropped to 3.6 per cent from last fiscal’s 4.4 per cent and the International Monetary Fund this month lowered its growth forecast to 2.3 per cent. There is an acute energy crisis, growing inflation and exports are falling. Pakistan needs an investment of $150 billion by 2020.

However, till there is a cessation of violence, foreign investors will continue to shy away. The recent murder of a Singapore model planning to invest in the country and other incidents of violence will keep away investors as well as tourists and philanthropists.

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