THERE is confusion as to how Shahbaz Taseer found his way home. Was his recovery a commendable yet complex act of efficient intelligence and an equally masterful play of security forces or was he simply released by his captors, allowing him to have enough money with him to have a roasted mutton after being paid a ransom of, some say, 2 billion rupees? He also seemed to have the number of the concerned authorities. It was almost a planned affair.
Usually, I would have brushed these details aside and would have celebrated the release alone. However, these details matter. Just as the fact that Shahbaz was found in the country's own proximity is of grave importance. Earlier, the reasons given by the supporters of the security agencies (and some security personnel aswell) were mostly dominated by the claim the claim that Shahbaz was in Afghanistan.
Crossing the border was not an option. We were not America and Afghanistan was really, really angry at us. So, everyone ended up not urging the agencies to do more. The matter was out of their hands. Or so it was forcefully implied.
Shahbaz was kidnapped in a black SUV in one of the most protected areas of Lahore. The whole city was eventually locked down in search for the black SUV. The said lockdown came very efficiently. Hopes were high, until of course, the hopes turned out to be in vain. The black SUV was never found. Shahbaz had simply disappeared; disappeared for the next 5 years.
Shahbaz has returned to us now and no one with even a tinge of emotional sympathy can deny that this is a big moment; an incredibly happy moment. However, as we celebrate his return, we should regret that Ali Haider Gillani is still somewhere unknown. Will he too have the same fate as Shahbaz? Will he be returning to us soon with a smile on his face that exhibits relief of the greatest magnitude? More importantly, why is Pakistan a country where there are Shahbaz's and Ali's in the first place? State and its infrastructure act as security agents for the populace. The government provides security in the form of a political and bureaucratic infrastructure which seeks to guarantee citizen's rights. The courts guarantee a person's right to justice and fairness. The security agencies: the police, the agencies, the army, all guarantee the protection of the people. How secure does a common Pakistani feel in Pakistan of today?
We have allowed our institutions to become lazy due to the societal obsession on either being ignorant or unconcerned. This allows these institutions to reinterpret facts and form conversations and versions of events that play into their version of reality. This also allows them to remain lazy and incapable and not be blamed for it. The recent times of Pakistan have seen numerous such accounts.
From absurd dharnas, to ignoring of judicial commission decisions on the model town carnage or Badlia town report are examples of the incapacity of the first two mentioned state infrastructures. As far as the security institutions are concerned, we have seen a consistent show of the army and intelligence's capacity to provide the citizen the protection they have promised to them.
OBL's discovery was and remains the most embarrassing account of Pakistan's security agency's incapacity. This was further tainted due to the fact that choppers from another country were able to penetrate so deep into the country, only a few hundred kilometres from the capital and conduct an operation people only became aware of after it was done. Had the helicopter not malfunctioned and there was no debris, the whole OBL episode would have even been a dream.
APS, the worst scar on Pakistan's total history was done in a school based within army controlled area. The school, bearing the Army in its name, was betrayed at its most vulnerable time. There was uproar against the sitting provincial and federal governments but no one really pointed fingers on the institutions that were supposed to intercept the intelligence and protect the school children. Raheel Shareef's efforts since are commendable, there is no doubt about that. However, there is denying the fact that we only act when the house is on fire. We have become addicted to our luck where we are able to kill the fire before it consumes us whole. We might not be this lucky forever.
Returning to and continuing on Shahbaz. It is important that an independent inquiry is made as to how Shahbaz was put in the position in the first place. The gaps in security that enabled the kidnappers to whisk away a member of one of the most influential family in Lahore need to be addressed. Similarly, the agencies need to be more efficient and be able to protect the common Pakistani man. If we continue living in fear, we will remain what we are, a dysfunctional state and the world of tomorrow, of the likes of Donald Trumps will not be kind to us.