Sunday, December 21, 2014

Daily Times Editorial Dec 22, 2014

Considered approach The Peshawar massacre of schoolchildren by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) monsters has evoked a revengeful frenzy throughout the country bordering on hysteria. Perhaps it is the nature and scale of the atrocity in Peshawar that can be held responsible for this collective outburst. But calls for hanging convicted terrorists en masse, even in public, and demands for blood for blood, an eye for an eye cannot be described as a cool, calm, considered response to the challenge posed by the TTP and other terrorist groups. Since the Peshawar bloodbath, the military and security agencies have sprung into action on an unprecedented scale throughout the country. This intense activity has yielded, according to reports, 62 killed in ground action, 57 in air strikes on Friday, 45 on Saturday through the length and breadth of the country. This increased enemy body count raises the troubling question why this kind of outcome has not been possible before, when the terrorists of all hues have taken the toll of civilian and security forces’ lives to above 50,000. Critics are wont to ascribe this surprising uptick in enemy casualties on the possibility that now that the existential threat from the terrorists has come closer to home in the shape of the massacre of military personnel’s children on such a large and barbaric scale, the military and security forces are going after their former protégés with a vengeance. If this view is correct, it suggests that the terrorist community in all its various shades and hues was known to the security establishment, which was nurturing some for strategic depth objectives and perhaps turning a blind eye to others’ sectarian atrocities. Whatever the truth of the matter, no sensible person having the interests of the country at heart could possibly object to the higher body count amongst the enemy’s ranks, provided the claim that they are all terrorists is correct, a proposition difficult to prove independently. More executions are now on the cards after the two carried out in Faisalabad the other day. But some have had to be deferred out of security concerns. Those concerns do not stop at the immediate threat of attacks by the terrorists on jails to free their colleagues on death row. They include the possibility of retaliatory further atrocities and terrorist actions, particularly on soft targets, in the days ahead. The country must therefore brace itself for more tragedies and sorrow. We are in a state of war, a fact denied for far too long by too many on the wrong side of the divide in our society. Such elements, whether in the media or elsewhere, are now under scrutiny and even verbal attack. However, what is still missing is a concentrated counter-narrative to challenge not only the terrorists, their sympathisers and defenders’ views, but educate the general public about how the holy name of religion has been misused by the terrorists to justify their bloody trade. For years we have been warning of the blowback from our proclivity to create and nurture proxy forces to project power in the region, east and west. That blowback has been around for some years but it is only now that the Peshawar tragedy has focused minds as never before across the board and negated the naysayers. Wisdom dawning is better late than never, but knee-jerk reactions and revengeful tendencies are no substitute for a considered, holistic approach to the problem of the growth and proliferation of all sorts of terrorist johnnies on our soil. The self-inflicted affliction of terrorist groups, whether for foreign and strategic policy purposes or because space was allowed sectarian terrorism, now requires the physician to heal himself. No partial or discriminatory approach, along the lines of the thoroughly discredited by now ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban narrative will do. Domestic terrorist groups such as the TTP and its ilk, sectarian groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and its tribe, proxy warriors against India like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and their extremist allies must all be put out to pasture (to put it euphemistically). Pakistan must now also revisit its Afghan Taliban policy and make sincere efforts to bring about a rapprochement between Mulla Omar and company and Kabul if Afghanistan, Pakistan, the region and the world are to finally turn the page on jihadi terrorism.

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