NIGHTWATCH Extract: Pakistan’s Penetration by Radicals–Why Fundamentalism Defeats Security

07 Other Atrocities, 08 Wild Cards, 10 Security, 11 Society

Pakistan: Update. On 5 January, Pakistani media reported more details about the assassination of Governor Taseer.

The assassin said everyone in the governor’s protective detail knew of his intentions. The weird thing is no background investigation would find adverse information about a devout Muslim, not in Pakistan.

The guard who assassinated Punjab Governor Salman Taseer on 4 January told other police officers of his planned attack but was still assigned to Taseer’s security detail, the Wall Street Journal reported 5 January. The assassin, Qadri, previously was removed from a counterterrorism police branch because of concerns about his Islamist leanings. He personally had requested to guard Taseer, according to a senior police official.

A dozen people have been detained, including six policemen who were on guard duty and are suspected of aiding the assassination. Investigators are looking into Qadri’s ties to radical Islamist group Dawat-e-Islami.

Pakistani religious scholars warned on 5 January that anyone who grieves the assassination of the Punjab Province Governor could face the same fate, Reuters reported.

More than 500 scholars of the Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat from the Barelvi sect of Sunnis praised the assassin’s “courage” and religious zeal, saying his deed made Muslims worldwide proud. They warned against expressions of grief or sympathy for Taseer’s death. The Jamaat-e-Islami party also called Taseer’s assassination justified, saying there would have been no need for someone to kill him if the government had removed him from his post.

Comment: The extent of the security breakdown is astonishing, curious and ominous. Qadri’s intention to commit murder was apparently barracks gossip. The curious part is that none of his fellow officers alerted security.

No police supervisors apparently voiced concern about the conditions for Qadri’s reassignment. They had to know about his intentions, or they are incompetent. Every other cop in the team knew. Either way, the whole group needs to be dismissed and charged with aiding and abetting murder.

The ominous part is that no background investigation or other safeguards can be effective when all the people in a node of a security system support murderous behavior.

Now apply the above analysis to the guards and technicians who control nuclear weapons in Pakistan. How can Pakistan Army Generals trust any results of the personnel security system, if the personnel vetting system fails to filter extremists? For that matter, can the civilian government trust the generals?

Old hands counted and tracked the colonels and generals with beards because they were the men openly sympathetic to fundamentalist Islam, unless they were Sikhs.

The Pakistani security system might catch an Indian spy, but it will not even search for an Islamist extremist who might try to steal fissile material so as to use it against blasphemers, heretics or infidels. The greatest threat to internal stability is from true believers already inside the Pakistani security forces, not from the Pakistani Taliban.

Finally, the statements of approval of murder and the encomiums for the assassin arise from an alien culture and spotlight the distance between western and Islamic ideas of life and its worth. The Muslim scholars never read John Donne’s “Meditation #XVII”. Or, having read it, rejected it.

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NIGHTWATCH Extract: Trusted Bodyguard Executes Governor in Pakistan for Being a Blasphemer–Observations on Meaning for Church & State