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Failing States
Terror In Pakistan, Firsthand

The following post is by Saim Saeed, WRM’s former student and a regular contributor to this site.

At 715pm on Monday evening, I was working at my desk in the Express Tribune newsroom in Karachi, Pakistan when armed gunmen threw grenades and started firing indiscriminately at the building. The firing continued for ten minutes before they went away on their motorcycles, injuring three guards stationed outside the entrance, and sending some very terrified journalists, including myself, into the basement looking for cover.

This attack was not the first – there was a similar attack on the same building four months ago – but given the unabated impunity with which journalists are attacked and intimidated in this country, it does not look like it will be the last. Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists; five have been killed so far this year. In fact it is so dangerous, that people have stopped reacting to that fact completely. I arrived home safely 45 minutes after the attack, only to find that no news channel apart from our own was covering the incident.

Outrage is a spent emotion in Pakistan. Both terrorists and those terrorized are finding it increasingly difficult to shock, or be shocked any more, by anything. There was nothing surprising about this attack or its aftermath. Politicians and the police have promised a swift and thorough investigation and better security. It would be wise to be skeptical of their promises. We do not know who was responsible for the first attack, let alone the one on Monday.

In fact, there is little to do except to go on as before, only with greater preparedness for the worst.

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  • rheddles

    Glad to hear you are safe. Sorry to hear you’re staying.

  • adam

    It was a similar situation in Israel a few years back, with similar stories, of anyone Jewish, not just journalists. Then the separation wall was built, the wall that many journalists like to call ‘Apartheid Wall’, and the terror attacks stopped entirely.

  • free_agent

    I don’t keep up on the Pakistan news, but it seems to me that *everybody* is in the same situation there. It’s a society where the government doesn’t have a monopoly on the practical use of violence

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