Last night’s blast at a rally, that was to be held by the ousted Chief Justice, has left 15 people dead and more than 40 people wounded. It was reportedly a suicide bombing, something that was unthinkable anywhere in Pakistan and especially in the capital, until very recently. There were also reports that Islamabad’s two five-star hotels were also intended targets, though by whom remains a mystery.
Although I have spent most of my life in various other countries, I have always returned to the calm and peaceful city that Islamabad once was. Though something is always happening in Pakistan, Islamabad was always the most secure, most serene and least crime-ridden city in the country. With regards to these merits, it even beat some of the other cities that I have lived in; cities like London and Rabat.
After last week’s Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) siege, and the ugly threat of suicide bombings, like the one last night, Islamabad seems no better than Kabul or Baghdad. All the recent development and investment by large multinationals seems to be pointless if the end result is a place where people are afraid to go out or where you are constantly subjected to invasive screening.
I’m tempted to think that this is all part of a bigger conspiracy. That there are deep political motives behind all this. That these occurrences will lead to a situation where it becomes crucial to impose a state of emergency and postpone any elections or supreme court decisions. Or that these are intended to cast the current government in a negative light and undermine its authority.
Whatever the motives and whoever is responsible, the sad fact is that it is normal people, people like you and me, who suffer. And the chances of any improvement are starting to look more and more bleak.