One fails to understand the extent to which a government must go in order to appease and placate a faction of its populace. The Shia opposition in Bahrain seems to be determined to embarrass the government, tarnish the Kingdom’s image and destroy the country’s economy by any means it can muster. The latest point on its agenda is to ensure that either the Formula One race, slated for next week, is not held in Bahrain or so much violence is rigged as the day approaches that it is mired in disarray.
There is no country in the world where a government has taken even a tenth of the conciliatory steps to win back a section of the populace which perceives itself as having been wronged as Bahrain. And the King’s initiative to appoint an impartial inquiry committee of respected international figures to look into the range of grievances can only be described as remarkable if not unprecedented since such panel’s are generally appointed under intense international / UN pressure and even then reluctantly, half-heartedly and grudgingly.
The icing on the cake was that when the probe panel submitted its report after months of assiduous inquiries, it was placed in the public domain and put on websites almost immediately and without any censorship though it had things to say against not only against the opposition but against the government as well. And as for the recommendations made by the panel, the King immediately formed another committee to implement everything the report had recommended to bring about normalcy and reconciliation in the social sphere. This included pardons, reinstatement of sacked employees without any conditions or questioning, payment of restitution and damages for loss of lives and property or injuries suffered, and a range of other gestures expressive of goodwill.
But nothing seems to be working and as far as the opposition is concerned it is determined to remain at loggerheads with the government and there is little respite from attacks and destabilizing and disturbing activities by the actors sponsored by it. There has been a regular stream of anti-national activities ranging from virulently abusive graffiti on miles and miles of walls to burning of tyres in the middle of highways and bylanes, incendiary attacks on schools, attacks on foreigners, blasts and Molotov cocktails attacks on passing vehicles endangering civilians – Bahrainis and expatriates alike.
Respecting the citizens’ right to protest, the government has not grudged allowing the opposition to take out rallies whenever they ask for but on successive occasions the result has been the same – soon after the rallies begin, they degenerate into a free-for-all against security men. In the process scores of policemen have been injured, many of them critically, with not a word of regret or remorse emanating from the opposition quarters.
In view of this, one wonders if the opposition, despite its protestations to the contrary, considers Bahrain as its own country anymore or has some other sinister agenda. With a majority of businesses in the old and traditional areas – especially the small and medium ones – grinding to a subsistence level the opposition leaders must answer where the solution lies, why they refuse to condemn the violence and the attempts to destroy the country and its peace which are there for all to see and why they continue to disown the thugs who perpetrate all the sinister acts in their name and in conformity with their agenda.
Indeed one marvels at the patience of the government which has told its security men in no uncertain terms not to get trapped in provocations and react rashly, not to react with violence and to follow the internationally-laid down codes of human rights protection both in letter and spirit.
In this context all that the opposition and the obdurately anti-government mediapersons have to do is to take just one look at the scenario in Syria – not far from Bahrain – where not hundreds but thousands of unarmed civilians have been [and are being] killed by the notorious regime on a daily basis with little more than lip service provided by the media and the political mandarins and then compare that with Bahrain where there has been no civilian death in the last six months or more and on the contrary dozens of security men have been injured as a result of the mindless acts of the opposition-backed thugs.