Charsadda attack: Pakistan needs to cut all ties with terror for its own good

The country cannot afford to turn a blind-eye anymore.

 |  Tarar Square  |  4-minute read |   21-01-2016
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The January 2 terror attack on the Pathankot airbase has reopened the Pandora's box of fault lines that delineate the dynamics of the India-Pakistan relationship. The actionable evidence given by the Indian government to Pakistan suggests the involvement of a militant organisation, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) from Pakistan, and for once, Islamabad has not issued a blanket denial.

Attacks

Immediately after the audacious attack, the Pakistan government offered its condolences as well as full cooperation. Emphasising the willingness on Pakistan's side to strengthen the goodwill PM Narendra Modi's December 25 visit to Lahore displayed, it is in addition a reconfirmation of Pakistan's commitment to eliminate terror within and without. And that is where there is not merely an overwhelming scepticism, but also a need to ask questions to which there are no satisfactory answers.

Pakistan, having lost almost 60,000 people in the last decade, as per South Asian Terrorism Portal, is in a fight to eliminate terrorism in its myriad forms all over Pakistan.

And while the military's Zarb-e-Azb seems to have dealt a crushing hand to different sections of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in the FATA, on Pakistan's western border, not much has changed regarding militant organisations that ostensibly operate against India. The debate over "state-run", "non-state actors" and "rogue elements" have muddied the narrative to such an extent that no clear policy seems to have emerged. The civilian-military consensus on dealing with terrorism is the driving force behind the National Action Plan, which came into existence after the Peshawar massacre of 144 people, mostly children, unarguably the most horrific terror attack in Pakistan's history. While there is a decrease in terror attacks within Pakistan, there is much that still needs to clearly define its position regarding terrorism in general. This is what Pakistan needs to do for itself, and for the bigger good of its neighbourhood.

Undeniable is the legitimacy of Pakistan's demand to have a resolution to the Kashmir issue, as well as those of Sir Creek and Siachen Glacier. India's apparent blatant rejection of any proposal to arrive at a solution acceptable to both parties in addition to the people of Kashmir is the roadblock in carving a new dynamic between the two nuclear-armed nations with a history of four wars. Regarding Kashmir as its "jugular vein", Pakistan's civilian and military establishments have always been categorical in their demand of resolving the Kashmir issue, which for many overly-optimistic Pakistanis would be complete annexation of Indian-occupied Kashmir to Pakistan through a UN intervention.

Narratives

There is another part of Pakistan's populace that recognises the right of self-determination for Kashmiris, the idea anathema to the Indian military and civilian establishment, thus deepening the mistrust between the two countries. Amidst the jostling narratives exists the tool of "jihad", of a "freedom-fight" to "liberate" the Muslim-majority Kashmir from India.

The debacles of armed interventions in Kashmir, mixed with a proxy war of state-sponsored jihadis, bloodied by terrorist acts of non-state actors have sullied Pakistan's legitimate demand for resolving the Kashmir issue. Pakistan, which has learnt no lessons from its "strategic" intervention in the Afghan war as an American ally against the "godless" Russians, needs to restrategise its stance vis-à-vis Kashmir.

Questions

The sealing of offices and arrests of members of JeM bring to fore the uneasy question: Why are banned militant organisations allowed to rename and rebrand themselves and operate with impunity in Pakistan? Why are people like Masood Azhar, with a history of India-centric terrorism, taken into "protective custody", in line with the security agencies' cosmetic handling of known militants?

While cases like that of alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks receive shoddy legal attention because of lack of evidence and absence of testimonies of witnesses, there is little or non-existent attention to banned groups that hold huge rallies to incite violence against India and other "infidels". As the civilian and military leadership of PM Nawaz Sharif and chief of army staff Raheel Sharif appear united to eliminate terrorism without any classification of "good" and "bad" terrorists, the India-centric militants seem to be on bottom of the list of Pakistan's "bad guys". That is what Pakistan needs to have a long and hard look at it.

As Pakistan and India embark on a new phase of their relationship, it is imperative to leave no stone unturned to dispense justice to the victims of the Pathankot attack.

Collection of evidence, apprehending of suspects, formation of strong cases and prompt trials would display Pakistan's willingness to dissociate itself from the allegation of categorisation of terrorism, of turning a blind eye to India-centric terror, and of classification of good and bad militants.

Whereas it is important to keep the peace with its neighbour, and lessening of hostilities in the region, Pakistan must act for the sake of Pakistan.

Pakistan needs to end all forms of terrorism for Pakistan. Only then will Pakistan find peace within and outside its borders.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Writer

Mehr Tarar Mehr Tarar @mehrtarar

A former op-ed editor of Daily Times, Pakistan, and a freelance columnist.

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