The murder of Pakistan’s charismatic and deeply admired senior police officer Chaudhry Aslam throws into sharp focus the sinister rise of extremist forces in the country. A true hero, Chaudhry Aslam had bravely taken on deadly militant groups infiltrating Karachi, surviving numerous assassination attempts. He was killed with his guard and driver when a powerful bomb hit their car. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack.
Chaudhry Aslam had gunned down three key TTP militants just a few hours before the attack. Though he was repeatedly a Taliban target, Chaudhry Aslam remained unfazed by Taliban assassination attempts which included blowing up his house and the CID head office in Karachi. In fact he responded with legendary equanimity, “I will give my life but I won’t bow to terrorists,” he boldly asserted.
In his trademark white shalwar kurta, a gun in one hand and cigarette in the other, Chaudhry Aslam eschewed body armour, epitomising a courage which infused Karachi’s police force. For years he miraculously managed to evade peril, his unequivocal stance against terrorism won him admiration and respect. “He would always say that he wanted to die a martyr, and in the end, he did,” said his widow Noreen Aslam. She had spoken to him just minutes before the fatal blast about relocating to another house and reminding him to drop their children to their tuition classes.
Karachi remains in the grip of anarchy and violence where its inhabitants are victims to the baneful rhythm of the city’s deadly power play as rival groups clash in bloody turf wars. Chaudhry Aslam’s defiant stand against militants and corrupt warlords will continue: “We will not waste his sacrifice but double our efforts,” said IG Shahid Hayat.
The tragic death of 17-year-old Aitezaz Hasan who was killed while intercepting a militant attempting to bomb his school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is another grim reminder of the precious lives lost through the rising tide of extremism. As an armed assailant approached his school in the Shia majority district of Hangu, Aitezaz chased the attacker away, protecting hundreds of his fellow students. His unequivocal bravery cost him his life when the captured assailant detonated his suicide vest.
The emergence of a violent social order in which lives are easily discarded has become a disturbing hallmark of life in the country. People like Aitezaz Hasan and Chaudhry Aslam are the truly compelling champions of the country who battle the every day problems the common man faces: making it through school, earning a decent living, paying bills, keeping their families safe.
In an age of terror and growing inequality, Pakistan’s politically privileged elite must craft a credible strategic response to the terrorist onslaught which appears to be gathering considerable momentum.