NationalVolume 12 Issue # 14

How to create peace in Pakistan

Pakistan is bleeding again because of a resurgence in terror attacks. In the month of February, terrorists have already killed more than one hundred innocent people, including police officers, women and children, in different terror attacks across the country.

On February 23, around 10 people were killed and more than 20 injured in a powerful explosion in an under-construction building in Lahore’s Defence Y Block Market. Punjab government authorities initially claimed that “the blast was the result of a “generator explosion”, but multiple sources, including Nayab Haider, a spokesman for the Punjab police, later said the explosion was caused by a bomb. A spokesperson for the Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) corroborated the claim, saying that the blast “seems to have been made by some explosives”. It is the second attack in Lahore in ten days.On February 21, three suicide bombers were killed by security forces at a local court in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda district. DSP Charsadda Fayaz Khan said five civilians, including one lawyer, have been killed in the attack, while 15 others were injured. The proscribed Jamaat-ul-Ahraar (JuA) has claimed the responsibility of the attack. The terrorists are attacking Charsadda again and again. A suicide bomber, belonging to Jamaat-ul-Ahraar, had struck a local court in Charsadda’s Shabqadar area last year in March, killing 17 people. Then, in January 2016, militants killed 21 people by attacking the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda .

On February 16, around 90 people were killed and more than 200 injured when a suicide bomber attacked the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Shrine in Sehwan, Sindh. The militant Islamic State (IS) group has taken the responsibility for the attack . The same day, an IED blast in Awaran, Balochistan, left three security officials dead. Then, on February 15, one person died as a suicide attacker targeted a judges’ vehicle in Peshawar. The TTP claimed the attack. On the same day, five people lost their lives in a suicide blast outside a government office in Mohmand Agency. The JuA had claimed the responsibility for the attack. On Feb 13, around 13 people, including two police officers, were killed and 85 injured during a suicide blast on Lahore’s Mall Road. The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. In another incident on February 13, two Bomb Disposal Squad personnel were killed while trying to defuse a roadside bomb at Sariab Road in Quetta.

After this increase in terror attacks,the Pakistan Army has launched Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad across the country on February 22. According to a Inter-Services Public Relations statement, “Radd-ul-Fasaad — which translates roughly to ‘elimination of discord’ — will aim at indiscriminately eliminating the “residual/latent threat of terrorism”, consolidating the gains made in other military operations, and further ensuring the security of Pakistan’s borders. Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, Civil Armed Forces (CAF) and other security and law enforcing agencies (LEAs) will actively participate in and “intimately support” the armed forces’ efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country, the statement added.
“The effort entails conduct of Broad Spectrum Security / Counter-Terrorism (CT) operations by Rangers in Punjab, continuation of ongoing operations across the country, and focus on more effective border security management,” the ISPR said. “Countrywide de-weaponisation and explosive control are additional cardinals of the effort. Pursuance of National Action Plan will be the hallmark of this operation,” it added.

Before Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, the army has launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border (2014), Operation Rah-i-Nijat in South Waziristan (2009), Operation Rah-i-Rast, commonly known as Swat Operation (2009) Operation Brekhna in Mohmand Agency (2009), Operation Black Thunderstorm in Buner, Lower Dir and Shangla district (2009), Operation Rah-i-Haq-III in Swat valley and Shangla (2009), Operation Sherdil jointly launched with Frontier Corps in Bajaur Agency (2008), Operation Sirat-i-Mustaqeem in Khyber Agency (2008), Operation Rah-i-Haq-II in Swat valley and Shangla (2008) and Operation Rah-i-Haq-I in Swat valley and Shangla district (2007) against local and foreign militants. In spite of these operations, the war on terror is not yet over. The militants have not yet been fully defeated and crushed. They are, now, retaliating ruthlessly and spreading terror at will and with impunity across the country. The entire nation has been plunged into gloom, fear and hopelessness after the resurgence in terror attacks. These attacks clearly tell us that terrorism can strike anywhere and anyone in the country.

Pakistan has already suffered $120 billion economically and sacrificed around 60,000 people in this war on terror. So far more than 4,000 suicide attacks have occurred in the country, killing and injuring thousands of people. In spite of all these heavy loses, there is no peace in the country. While the people of Pakistan are suffering, our corrupt and venal political and religious leaders are doing nothing to combat this menace.

Military operations can only offer temporary respite, which the Zarb-e-Azab operation has already given us by curtailing terror attacks and bringing peace back to Karachi. But, it is also a fact, that it is the politicians who should formulate and implement a pragmatic programme or plan for a permanent solution. It is very tragic that the PML-N’s federal government and the PPP’s Sindh government have betrayed the nation and army by not implementing the National Action Plan (NAP) in the country. Why? The answer is very simple. Almost all the major political and religious parties like the PML-N, the PPP, the MQM, the JUI-F, the ANP and Awami Milli Party etc., have their links, facilitators, supporters and sympathisers with the extremists, militants and spy agencies of other countries. If the PML-N and PPP governments had implemented the NAP fully in letter and spirit, many important members, including the leaders of their parties, would have been arrested. It is an open secret that leaders of all these big political and religious parties are corrupt, undemocratic and unpatriotic. Their purpose is to rule and plunder the poor. They do not care about creating a lasting peace in the country. Due to this criminal mentality and negligence, the people of Pakistan are facing an increase in terror attacks.

These rulers, including civil bureaucrats, technocrats and politicians, are strongly entrenched.They have made all the institutions of the state, except the judiciary and the army, weak and dysfunctional. No one can challenge them. None can arrest them. They are above the law. The IG Sindh has clearly said that the killers of Karachi police officers are now sitting in parliament. Criminals are ruling the people and the country. Even the judges of the Supreme Court, while hearing the Panama case against PM Nawaz Sharif and his family, have said that all the other institutions of Pakistan are malfunctioning. Pakistan needs strong institutions if it wants to get rid of criminals and terrorists.

There are also some external forces like India’s RAW, Afghanistan’s NSD and America’s CIA that want to destabilise Pakistan. They are making unabated efforts to derail the CPEC project which is strategically and economically very important for China, Pakistan and the region. These anti-Pakistan forces are using the TTP and other militant groups for waging proxy wars in Pakistan. It is the duty of our political and military leadership to foil the iniquitous designs of these malign forces. Unfortunately, the PML-N government has failed to raise this issue at any world forum effectively. Rather, it has started propaganda against the army. The Dawn leaks clearly show the PML-N leadership is trying to tarnish the image of the army. This disunity between the government and army is encouraging the terrorists and other enemies of Pakistan to pursue their devious plan in the country. There should be unity of purpose among the state institutions for defeating the militants.

There are many other causes which are spreading extremism and militancy in the country. One cannot deny that religion has been exploited and used for protecting and securing political and other vested interests in Pakistan. The misuse of religion, an uneducated population and lack of national consensus has created extremism in our society. It is the duty of our leaders, political, and religious, that they should stop misusing religion. Our political and religious leaders should also cut their ties with the extremists and criminals. Corruption, economic inequality, unemployment, feudalism and injustice are creating a sense of exploitation, deprivation and alienation among the people. The state has utterly failed to address these problems. Our political, and religious leaders should address these root causes, if they want to crush terrorism, extremism and create peace in Pakistan.