The curious incident of the cops during the riot time

The behaviour of religious fundamentalists is not the issue. The behaviour of the cops is.

The offices of Pakistan’s Jang media group came were attacked by Islamic fundamentalist thugs after Geo TV, one of its affiliates, broadcast an interview with the Israeli deputy prime minister.

Over the years, threats from the government have become ‘privatised’, as various groups and organisations have taken it upon themselves to respond to criticism or reports or analyses that counter their own ideologies. As part of this phenomenon, we have seen newspaper offices physically attacked in different parts of the country, their properties set on fire and smashed up by armed hooligans. Newspaper hawkers have been attacked for selling the newspaper under fire (piles of those newspapers have literally been set on fire), and miscreants have gone so far as to barge into editors’ offices and physically intimidate them. So far, no one has faced any punishment for such attacks. The latest attack on a newspaper and television office in Karachi comes after a relatively long lull in such violence against the freedom of expression. Armed men on motorcycles fired into the air, smashed newspaper offices and roughed up the guards on duty. The attack was as reprehensible as the inaction of the policemen on duty in a nearby police mobile van. Once again, the onus is on the government to bring the culprits to book, as well as to pull up the socks of its functionaries. [The News/Jang]

The presence of a police unit did nothing to dissuade the thugs who proceeded with their agenda even as the cops watched helplessly. And as both the Dawn and the daily News write, the perpetrators of such attacks are hardly every apprehended or punished. Nor are they likely to be, considering that people like Ejaz ul Haq, fundamentalist son of a fundamentalist General Zia ul Haq, are part of Musharraf’s dispensation.