Pakistanís commitment to the war
Sultan M Hali
Despite Pakistan having suffered a loss of over 35,000 precious lives, a major chunk of the tourism, sports and entertainment industry as well as foreign investment, there are doubting Thomasí abroad and within the country about its commitment to the ongoing war on terror. It has been a decade since 9/11 and the US led attack on Afghanistan, which brought the war on terror to the doorsteps of the Pakistanis. Earlier, average Pakistanis kept denying that this was our war. Their grouse was with General (retd) Pervez Musharraf that he blindly became a US ally. However, with the raging war having taken a serious toll of the lives of innocent Pakistanis, the war can no longer be brushed under the carpet as ďnot being our war.Ē The people need to realise that it is now the war of our survival.
In April 2011, terror struck full blooded blows, especially on the military and law enforcing agencies of Pakistan. Three buses conveying naval personnel were attacked, resulting in the death of half a dozen officers and sailors. May has been the bloodiest month so far. Following the attack on Osama bin Ladenís alleged hideout in Abbottabad and his slaying, there were tit-for-tat retaliatory attacks by Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which have taken a heavy toll. The latest casualty was the naval aviation base, PNS Mehran, where reportedly six terrorists held the entire might of Karachi at bay for more than 16 hours. Two of the navyís most prized asset, the P-3C Orion were burnt and charred to ashes and 13 naval personnel sacrificed their lives. The worst casualty was the esteem, confidence and good name of the armed forces. The bin Laden episode brought ignominy to the army and air force, but the navyís morale suffered a major dent because of the Mehran attack that shattered its self-esteem.
Externally, the West made a mockery of Pakistan after the bin Laden episode and ridiculed us that Osama had managed to reside unrecognised and incognito for many years in a cantonment city at a stoneís throw from the Pakistan Military Academy Kakul. The US went to the extent of stating that Pakistan was either complicit or incompetent. It is indeed callous and heartless to blame Pakistan and doubt its commitment. On the other hand, Pakistan too needs to put its own house in order and evolve a strategy and plan to defeat terror. The world will perhaps take to us more kindly, if we have a credible strategy, evolved by Parliament after debate and consultations with all major stakeholders and political parties. There would hardly be a Pakistani family, which has been left unscathed or unaffected by the ongoing spate of violence. Nearly every household has lost a family member or suffered the trauma of terror attacks. Thirty-five thousand casualties is a large number to sacrifice. During the Second World War, this was the number of casualties suffered by many countries. Here Pakistan has lost so many people and more importantly, allocated resources including the deployment of nearly 150,000 troops to combat terror. Nearly 600 Al-Qaeda and Taliban have been rounded up and handed over to international agencies seeking them. At the end of the day, if Pakistanís intentions are doubted that it is playing double games and protecting some assets, then it is most unfair.
Besides formulating a cogent plan to tackle terrorism like the US did following 9/11 or Britain did after 7/7, Pakistan needs to execute the plan with audacity and courage. In order to take the bull by the horns, Pakistan also needs to revamp its institutions engaged in the war and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
In this context, the policy on religious institutions requires serious implementation. The registration of all the madrassahs must be carried out on war footing. This essential step must be followed by a close of all major disciplines in the syllabi being taught by these so-called religious institutions. Making them cognisant of science, technology, computer literacy and modern subjects of social sciences will broaden the horizon of the students of the madrassahs and make them less prone to indoctrination by terror mongers to join the gang of suicide bombers, with the lollypop of going to paradise as a martyr. These steps should stem the rot and prove Pakistanís commitment to fight the war.