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The Perils of Reporting in Pakistan

The toll of Taliban attacks is measured in more than bodies.

Stay in the news business long enough, and you become hardened to brutality. But the reports from Pakistan overnight hit me hard on Tuesday morning. How to comprehend such evil? One hundred forty-five dead at the Taliban’s hands, more […]

December 16th, 2014|Rumi|0 Comments

Moving ahead after the attack

It has been a month since I survived a lethal attack aimed to silence me forever. The support of my family, friends and colleagues has been monumental in dealing with the trauma, especially that of seeing young Mustafa die — an unfortunate victim of the bullets that the assailants fielded for me. The Punjab Police have reportedly apprehended a gang that has been carrying out such activities. It remains to be seen if the creaky, dysfunctional criminal justice system will deliver justice. Nevertheless, the efforts of the police have been commendable in tracing and arresting the alleged attackers.

Much has happened in the last month. Halfway, I had to leave the country given the sense of insecurity that surrounded my daily life and the potential power of those who attempted to kill me. The issue of journalists’ security remains a huge question mark for the government in power as another colleague from Geo TV was brutally attacked on April 19. The core issues since then have been sidelined and the politics of blaming Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency has overshadowed everything else. Is there freedom of speech in Pakistan? How much of it is granted and what are the lines that cannot be crossed by journalists? […]

Analysis: Attackers punch hole in Islamabad security

Raza Rumi

A police commandos stop a photo journalist near a local court building after a gun and suicide attack in Islamabad on March 3, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Today’s suicide bombing at the Islamabad courts complex suggests that the capital and its sensitive installations are vulnerable. The premeditated murder of a judge, who had turned down an appeal made by the Lal Masjid clerics, has raised question marks for the future of Pakistan’s battle with terrorism. If judges are not secure in the capital, one wonders who will ensure their safety in less developed, remote districts where terrorist networks run their bases.
A few weeks ago, interior ministry officials had told the nation that the capital was not safe. While briefing a Senate committee, the ministry termed Islamabad’s security situation ‘extremely dangerous’ due to the presence of militant groups. In particular, the risk was heightened due to the presence of alleged sleeper cells al Qaeda, TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) within the limits of Islamabad. The interior minister was quick to contradict his own ministry’s report and told the nation last week that reports of sleeper cells operating in Islamabad were exaggerated and that the capital was safe. He also insisted that neither foreign agencies nor terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, were operating from Islamabad.Nisar also announced a set of measures, which were being taken to improve the situation. Sadly, the political rhetoric has been exposed as today’s attack in Islamabad comes as a major security lapse right under the nose of the interior minister, leaving the prime minister red-faced for saying a bit too much.

But at the end of the day it is about collective responsibility in a parliamentary system. The government’s vacillating policy on negotiating or fighting the militants has much to contribute to the worsening security scenario across the country. […]

Welcome remarks

This is a worthwhile editorial published in ET

The seasoned Congress leader and India’s well-known dove Mani Shankar Aiyarhas made some bold remarks at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank. He has reminded his countrymen that it is time to change how they view Pakistan. Citing the recent developments in Pakistan, he has rightly […]

June 8th, 2013|Politics|0 Comments

Whither rule of law?

My piece published in the Express-Tribune

State effectiveness, by most definitions, has been waning in Pakistan. The ability of the law enforcement agencies and institutions to deliver services and entitlements is dwindling.

Ultra-nationalists resent the ‘failed state’ branding but what else can describe a dysfunctional apparatus that is unable to provide a basic entitlement, i.e. security? After 1973, the state has undertaken no serious civil service reform and the top-down reform under former president Pervez Musharraf has failed.

Therefore Pakistan has, among other things, witnessed a near-collapse of its institutions especially the criminal justice system where the police and prosecution have lost their efficacy and millions of cases are pending in courts.

Terrorism is often viewed in the country as the handiwork of ‘anti- Pakistan’ elements. However, rarely has it been noted that our criminal justice system is unable to cope with the spiralling phenomenon called terrorism. Cases are registered but proper investigations never take place. The overstretched prosecutors, lacking incentives to deliver, seldom pursue the cases in the courts. Consequently, the courts acquit most of the accused due to lack of credible evidence. […]

April 23rd, 2010|governance, Pakistan, Published in the Express Tribune|1 Comment