Vol. 5 Num 437 Thu. August 18, 2005  

Terror strikes all over the country
Nation must respond as one
The chilling scope of the bomb attacks that swept the length and breadth of the country yesterday should leave no one in doubt as to the intent, organisation, and capability of the terrorists that were behind it. At last count, over 300 different bombing incidents had been recorded in 63 of the 64 districts of the country within a span of 30 minutes. Thankfully, there has been only one death reported so far.

The organisation and synchronicity of the blasts, together with the frightening fact that the authorities apparently had not the slightest inkling of what was coming, is a clear message as to the strength of the Jamat-ul-Mujahideen, who claim responsibility, and the nation's lack of readiness to deal with the threat that they pose.

First thing first. These attacks should shatter once and for all the government's dishonest posturing that there is no problem with religious extremism in the country. Please, no more mendacious denials that insult the intelligence of the public, and no more hurling false and irresponsible accusations at the media for its reporting on the rise of extremism. Too much time has been wasted peddling these falsehoods while the extremist elements have grown stronger and more brazen. We cannot afford to waste another moment.

The second point is that the bombings represent an intelligence failure of massive proportions. That a synchronised attack of this scale -- quite possibly the most widespread one-day peace-time bombing campaign in recent history -- could have been planned and executed with such stealth and precision points to the utter uselessness of our intelligence apparatus.

That our intelligence agencies should have been found to be so wanting when they should have been on high alert after the terrorist incidents of the past few years is even more shocking. The government must acknowledge this as a colossal failure.

The fact that the bombs were relatively small is little consolation. The intent of the bombers was clearly to send a message as to their reach and potency -- which has been received loud and clear. Had the intent been to spread death and destruction there is no doubt that thousands could have been killed or maimed and that the authorities would have been powerless to stop it. This is a truly scary thought.

Doubtless we will all have more to say once more facts start to filter in and the implications of this devastating event for the nation become more apparent. But today we would like to end by pleading with both the government and the opposition to not politicise this matter. This is not a time for the blame game or to irresponsibly point fingers and hurl accusations.

The bombers are fighting to violently overthrow our entire democratic system of government, which they termed as evil and against Islam. In the accompanying leaflet, the terrorists have clearly stated that they reject the Constitution and all the laws formed under it. The fact that in each district administrative offices and courts were bombed makes it abundantly clear that their target is the very foundation of the state.

Each one of us in the country -- government, opposition, or neutral -- must today unite behind our common purpose to root out the terrorists and defend our democracy from this unprecedented assault.