Can another ‘Peshawar’ be averted ?
27 Dec. 2014
The answer to this question may lie in the half- hearted, knee-jerk and ‘public- consumption’ measures taken by the government in the last few days. The post-trauma stress has squeezed the last traces of functionality from a set of rulers not famous for their intellectual dexterity. There is much evidence to suggest that we may have learnt nothing except to recycle more of the same gibberish, packed as conferences and committees that have never ever served their purpose.
Taliban-sympathetic politicians, ministers, advisers and apologists continue to walk in the corridors of power? The CDA Chairman not only allows but also pays for operating a militant pro-Taliban outfit in Lal Masjid located right under its nose. Should the interior minister not be considered a promoter of Taliban for taking no action against Jamia Hafsa , which now acts as the ISIS country headquarter and where the clerics swear allegiance to Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi to wage war against the state of Pakistan. How come many terrorists of Jhangvi, Lakhvi, SSP, the ‘Jamaat-ud-dawah’ and those based in Punjab still roam around free on the streets of Pakistan?
There are at least five other categories of militants (besides the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ Taliban), just as hazardous and just as barbaric who also need to be eliminated before sanity returns to Pakistan. These are (a) those who kill others because of religious differences (b) those who incite violence and hatred from their pulpits (c) those who engage in violence such as burning their bonded labour in kilns (d) those feudal land-lords who give nothing but lifelong wretchedness and misery to their tillers and (e) those sophisticated urban militants who live in posh areas of the country and are engaged in crime, lawlessness and massive syphoning of national resources. Just on one street of Karachi, stand 15 government vehicles (mis)used by the brother of a minister for the last seven years. His government however claims shortage of funds and remains unperturbed when 300 children die of hunger and thirst in Thar. Creating planned poverty is another form of terrorism – only a shade higher.
Pakistan failed to understand, what other nations had understood some 200 years ago. Religion could be the business of individuals but not of the state. States do not have ideologies. They have functions to perform, such as delivering justice, equality and wellbeing of citizens. Pakistan’s foremost priority must be to implement Jinnah’s words, “You may belong to any religion, caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” Radical constitutional amendments are inevitable. Failing to do so shall keep the religious groups eternally engaged in promoting their brands through indigenous and sponsored violence.
The next essential step for Pakistan is to shed its addiction of living on beggary from the West and charity from the Mid-East – also called the ‘beg-arity’ syndrome. Could we not survive without Arab countries sponsoring hundreds of ‘ moulvis’, mosques and ‘madrassas’ in Pakistan? It is time to stop all charity and religious funding from any country to any individual or group in Pakistan. The state has no capacity to reform the ‘madrassas’. It simply needs to shut the militant ones and convert the rest to regular schools. Needless to say that converting ‘madrassas’ into schools would be meaningful only after the syllabi has been purged of all hate and violence-inducing content.
It is not clear if the army realises that Zarb e Azab is necessary but not enough to ensure success. It can be won only if the three core components of violence are dismantled simultaneously. These are the weapons, the illegal vehicles and the non-traceable SIMs. These three factors are central to all acts of terrorism including the one that took place in Peshawar. These factors have been repeatedly highlighted over the last many years. However our ruling class, itself engaged (as individuals and parties) in proliferation of weapons, illegal vehicles and untraceable SIMS has refused to address these issues. This class, often simplistically addressed as VIPs, is engaged in the ultimate form of terrorism by preventing any reforms to take place.
Peace is not likely to reappear by coincidence. All individuals, ‘lashkars’, private armies and political parties must be disarmed and prevented from possessing, carrying or displaying any weapon, licensed or otherwise. Illegal, unregistered and fake number-plated vehicles need to be eliminated and SIMs not traceable to any individual ought to be blocked. These actions have been taken by all those countries who fought terrorism and the least we can do is to learn from them. If the state continues to remain unmoved, the civil society, shunning its differences, must make a collective push for change. A small group of citizens protesting In front of Lal Masjid at Islamabad may have already shown the way to go.