The attacks on Christians in the Gojra region of Pakistan over the weekend shocked the world. Especially troubling was the reaction – lack thereof – on the part of Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N. Today, though, new allegations have arisen that Sharif wasn’t just silent, he may have been complicit.
Today’s Asia Times reports that the attacks were carefully planned by Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists in the region. Bishops in the region have leveled allegations against Nawaz Sharif, the politician who controls the area, as an accomplice in the attacks.
A leading bishop, Almas Hameed Masih, however, takes a different view and he has registered a complaint case with the police against the district’s entire administration, which was handpicked by the province’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), led by former premier Nawaz Sharif.
“There are so many question marks in this whole event,” Rahman Malik, an advisor to the prime minister on interior matters, told Asia Times Online.
“I will not say anything because a judicial inquiry is being set up. But our biggest fear is that the whole event could have been engineered for some vested interests,” Malik said.
Malik refused to comment on Bishop Masih accusing the PML-N of complicity.
“Like all other aspects, we are reviewing this aspect and I will not say anything before an inquiry finishes.”
Investigations by Asia Times Online indicate that the attackers in Gojra comprised two main groups – Muslim clerics of different schools of thought, and non-political actors including traders’ associations. The PML-N, the largest political force in the town, appears to have been the binding force, led by local party president Abdul Qadir Awan
As I’ve well noted before, Nawaz Sharif has a troubling history of kow-towing to radical Islamists including Osama bin Laden himself. Most people don’t really believe that Sharif is an Islamist at heart – he’s much too much of a playboy. But there is historical evidence that Sharif has in the past been willing to use radical Islamism as a means of seizing power, and, despite his recent assurances that he’s done with that, new concerns are arising in connection with these attacks on Christians.
In fact, the government has issued a warning to Sharif not to attempt to use Islamic radicals to destabilize the current government and seize power.
If indeed the PML-N is implicated in the attack on the Christians, one can only speculate on its motives. A few weeks back, Nawaz Sharif created a political storm when he suggested that presidential powers be curtailed.
The military’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and a Washington envoy have immediately intervened, warning Sharif against taking any action that could destabilize the government and its battle against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Nawaz Sharif has been cozying up to diplomats and representatives of the current American Administration in an attempt to gain favor. This is a dangerous situation. We cannot allow Nawaz Sharif to become the next Ahmadinejad, especially in a country that is already a demonstrated nuclear power.