The Enemy Strikes at the Premier’s City
Whenever a terrorist attack takes place, an ever-repeating cycle occurs which starts at condemnation and almost always ends in false promises and failed targets. The events which have been construed after the Peshawar massacre show us that the enemy is as prepared as it ever was while the proud citizens of this great nation have yet not moved forward from internal bickering about who really is a threat to us and who is a victim.
Let’s be frank for a second and temporarily ignore what is deemed to be controversial. Many of the people responsible for terrorism are under the government’s protection at this very moment, enjoying the security of the same policemen, which were targeted today. It is unfortunate that the people who claim to be in power either seem helpless in front of these extremists or conform to their wishes, either way, it is the ordinary citizen of this country who is paying the price for this dangerous game being played by so called powerful men. The blood in Shikarpur had not dried before new victims in Lahore were martyred.
The victims of terrorism are so unfortunate that often times they refuse to bury their dead, what little remains of them, until at least the government shows a hint of sincerity. The victims know that the killers of their families are openly running around under a sublime hemisphere in which no action could be taken against them. Even public proclamations of terrorist activities and sectarian violence were in some level, legitimized by the silence of the people in the corridors of power and authority.
There are always narratives and counter narratives to each and every tale of events. As far as terrorism is concerned, some people like to draw a line between sectarian extremists such as ASWJ, SSP, LJ and terrorist outfits such as Al Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS. It is to be understood that both groups openly claim to use violence as a means to enforce their political will. There is no difference whatsoever in this basic principle, which is the basis of what we like to call terrorism. For whatever reason, if any group takes up arms and decides to enforce their political agenda, be it a demand for Shariah Law or a demand for certain provisions to be added in the Constitution of Pakistan with the barrel of a gun it would be considered as terrorism.
The attack in Peshawar was a political message. So were all the attacks before or after it. Different people interpreted the message in many different ways but the bottom line was that the writ of the State was getting weaker and weaker and the influence of terrorists was increasing at an increasing rate. In the last 7-8 years since the TTP has been active, the sheer audacity of their targets has never failed to surprise us. From airports to mosques to markets to schools to shrines to political rallies to military parades, they have hit us everywhere they could while we have been dwindled in the midst of dangerous games played in a domain greater than our own.
For the sake of National Sovereignty, a patriotic citizen would understand that there are always certain forces at work and our establishment must take the necessary precautions and preemptive measures whatever they might be in order to ensure safety of our country as a whole. The National Interest should always be held supreme, no doubt about it. My question is, who gets to decide what Pakistan’s National Interest really is? Is it going to be a handful of feudal-industrial politicians or a handful of Generals or billionaire businessmen or other influential heads of national institutions? The collision of such powerhouses always leads to a sort of nexus in which the interests of the state become the interests of the aforementioned elite.
All this mess could have been contained if it not were for several international players. We have had a bitter history with both Afghanistan and India and the level of mistrust has not been able to curtail regardless of what seems to be a encouraging approach by the Afghan President and the Pakistani leadership. The true and sad reality is that the all the countries in some way or another seek influence in their neighboring countries. This ambition increases several fold when the neighbors have a history of hostility. Lest we not forget that we still fear a threat from rising India and the recent insecurities on Obama’s visit to India further explains our dilemma.
It would be unfair to say that our leadership has not tried to reason with all the international powers. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was more than excited to develop a better relationship with India yet the bewilderment was not reciprocated by the new right wing Indian Prime Minister. Visits to Washington and London, both by the political and military leadership show us that Pakistan is far from isolated from the international community. Even though foreigners feel insecure while travelling to Pakistan, they still have a deep interest in the affairs of this nuclear nation of 200 million people.
Perhaps it is time to rethink certain strategies. George Bernard Shaw said that ‘progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything’. There is some wisdom in this saying, which should be understood by the men in the realm of affairs. The military leadership is fresh and so far the entire nation has its eyes primarily on its chief. The expectations from the COAS should not be held as undemocratic in the least sense. After all, a man leading an institution of several hundred thousand men, which spend billions of dollars a years, does have to deal with such expectations.
Certain lobbies in the corridors of powers might have even recognized the imminent threat of terrorism, which plagues our nation. The question remains, will such lobbies be successful in changing the national narrative, which equips us to fight this war? If they are trying indeed, they should realize that time is running out.