Converging on a National Stance

In the wake of the current barbaric act of terrorism that the nation has had to endure where hundreds of innocent lives were sacrificed, the nation needs a policy that not only denounces it verbally, but takes strict action against it too. The entire nation is shocked and saddened to see young children being butchered so cold bloodedly. This picture of hopelessness, however, made the nation rise against the evil force of terrorism and has brought a fresh resolve to tackle it once and for all.

So far the regional security dynamics have revealed that the counterterrorism policies and plans pursued in South Asia have been suffering from flaws and omissions, thus failing to achieve desired objective. Whatever little that has been achieved is rapidly moving towards a reversal. With the continued terror attacks in the country it becomes imperative to modify the prevalent security structure and strategy where the political, economical, psychological and civic dimensions are equally significant for success to be achieved.

First of all the war that began as the US war on terror needs to be termed as our own where the terrorists are targeting our own people, our children and our soldiers. Thus, the Pakistani war on terror ought to be taken up as an indigenous and significant issue. For this purpose all political differences should be put aside and a national counter terrorism policy needs to be defined keeping in view the indigenous factors that are affecting our people and their collective psyche.

All stakeholders that include the civil-military leadership ought to be taken onboard and formulate a clear counter terrorism plan along with the means through which it can be successfully executed. A multi-pronged approach needs to be devised that should begin by strangulating the resource sites including foreign funding and criminal activities. In addition to this, the Afghanistan chapter also needs to be closed simultaneously so that the free to and fro motion does not serve to strengthen them. The poppy cultivation and the supply money that the terrorists extract from the containers goods to the Nato soldiers needs to be controlled by the afghan side.

The Pakistani society needs an uplift by morale boosting endeavors that include developmental projects, opportunities of growth based on merit and distinction, the installation of justice and fairplay, and other emergency measures to increase self-worth and raise self-esteem. For this, economic and political stability is a pre-requisite. But most essential is the education sector where reforms of all sorts are needed. The general intellectual level of the nation needs to be uplifted at least so that they become able to differentiate right from wrong instead of following blindly people who have learnt only to exploit ignorance.

There is also a dire requirement of building a national integrated thought that may provide a profound feeling of hope among the masses. Watching both the military and civilian leaders being involved on the issue of eradication of terrorism from the Pakistani soil is a site that can serve as glue for the people. Just like squabbling parents that have found harmony between each other have a positive effect on their children, the PM taking an interest in the affairs of the military endeavors provides hope and gives an impression that the elected government has finally taken control of the state.

It not only boosts the morale of the military personnel, the soldiers who are fighting, training, exercising and performing on multiple fronts, but also passes a significant message across the globe that the civilian government has finally found its foot and is ready to put it down both literally and figuratively.

It must be noted that the previous government had always dealt with the militants from a weakened position, thus demanding less from them and offering more in return. Many captured militants had been released by them in the vain hope of bringing peace. Instead of documenting and making the clauses of the deals public, it was kept secret. Whether there was a strategy devised to make sure the principles of the deal were adhered to by both parties- especially the militants- remains a mystery. It would not be entirely wrong to assume that this administrative incompetence and indifference had been instrumental in allowing free rein and space to the militants to gain strength and vigor to resume their activities.

The current regimes change in capital punishment plans has brought about a change on this front where its serious-mindedness cannot be doubted. The hanging of key terrorists is a step that would have positive impacts upon the war against terrorism. This time round not only the foot-soldiers, but the master minds will be taken to task for their evil deeds.

Now the government can take a position of strength from where it can formulate a counter terrorism strategy and a sound and effective mechanism of implementing it on ground. Socio-economic reforms must be introduced and rehabilitation process be kicked into gear to de-radicalize the people, especially the tribal youth. Every citizen has the right to have access to education, health, justice and employment opportunities.

Further, Preventive strategies must be devised so that the militant leadership that had fled to the neighboring countries should be denied easy cross border access into the Pakistani terrain.  The borders ought to be sealed and secured by strict vigilant guard as this diffusion of terrorist elements increases vulnerability. Afghanistan and India should be made to curb their anti Pakistan desire to fuel militant activity by funding and providing them with an extravagant supply of arms that has been confiscated by the security forces several times at various occasions. The international community also needs to address this point so that this menace may not spread further and engulf the entire region in its grip.

The most important factor, however, will be the resolve of the nation where all stakeholders including all political parties, the military, religious clerics and the civil society play its due role. Terrorism needs to be eradicated at all levels and for good this time.

Amna Malik

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