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Pakistan: Martyr Versus Martyr

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Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security

In Karachi, Pakistan, police head of the Anti-Extremist Cell and Crime Investigation Department, Muhammad Aslam Khan (Chaudhry Aslam) was killed in an explosion. He had previously survived nine assassination attempts.

Aslam was a famed Taliban hunter and had dedicated 29 years of service as a police officer. He reportedly struck hard against criminals and Islamic militants and was hailed as “Pakistan’s toughest cop” by a Karachi newspaper.

An offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban took credit for the attack. A roadside bomb with a suspected 50 pounds of explosives killed Aslam and his driver in the attack and some 11 others were wounded.

Sajjad Mohmand, a representative of a faction of the Pakistani Taliban said: “This is a warning to all those who create hurdles for us.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif countered: “Such attacks will not deter the morale of the law-enforcing agencies in the fight against terrorism.”

Karachi Police Chief Shahid Hayat: “We have given hundreds of lives in the line of duty to save this city.”

Pakistani police face regular allegations of abuse while fighting the world’s most savage fanatics. While the military budget is tallied around $6 billion, the police budget was only $686 million, according to a Reuters figure.

The police are not the only ones fighting back. Private citizens and teenagers are a part of this ‘battle for Pakistan’ too.

Thursday, in Peshwar, seventeen year-old Aitazaz Hassan was killed stopping a suicide bomber attack on his high school. The bomber was dressed in a school uniform and asked to meet with the principle on the way to school.

Aitazaz’s physical altercation with the violent extremist killed him but he potentially saved the lives of hundreds of his classmates, had the detonation been closer to school, or indoors.

“My son did a heroic job and I am proud of his bravery,” said his father Mujahid Ali.

They are out there- the few in Pakistan who are standing up to terrorists and thugs using life against life and martyr against martyr.

One popular theme is that the US is responsible for the increase in terror attacks. This is not the heart of the Pakistani problem, however. Sure, retaliation is present, but an estimated 20 percent increase in attacks is more likely the result of Afghanistan Taliban border-crossings, Pakistan military offensives and national curfews across the Federally Administered Tribal Area. The US is not the only one accused of collateral damage. Which one takes more heat? Which nation is closer?

A December article from The Diplomat online magazine captured the local sentiments there, fixating their rage against Pakistani actions: “If this kind of behavior by the government continues, we – the locals – will inevitably turn against the government.”

Yet even by allegedly torturing terrorists or beating criminals, these accusations against Pakistani police officers do not seem as much a moral hazard as bombing high school students or targeting out and killing school girls. Clearly, the Taliban have the losing ground in any humane or moral arena. And so their only recourse is to stir the pot, draw out greater government abuses between the people and the government. By playing at both sides, the nefarious enemy attempts to gain more recruits from the North who have lost limb and or family; brainwash children to kill children and attack cities to the South with indiscriminate suicide bombs, choosing tactical locations of weakness, combined with more sophisticated political assassination attacks.

Beyond this is political martyrdom from within Pakistan, but that is another story for another day.

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