Shying Away From Owning the War on Terror
By: Osman Khan
Many of the contenders in the recently concluded parliamentary elections had wittingly or unwittingly shied away from owning the war against extremism and terrorism taking place on our own soil. Whether it was an election gimmick to win votes or ignorance of the issue on their part, it did not bode well for the country and the army that is in the forefront in taking on the terrorists head on for Pakistan. Asfandyar Wali Khan, the head of Awami National Party (ANP), while talking to the media on 16th May attributed his party’s defeat to its anti-terrorism slogan in the election campaign. The fact that others refrained from openly discussing the issue in their election rallies may have been their inadequate knowledge on the issue. If it were so, their failure to understand the phenomenon of the ongoing killings and lawlessness that has made this country an hostage to the whims of some misguided elements, may affect national response towards the issue. Incidentally, the recently concluded elections saw our Election Commission clearing some of the established leaders of militant outfits to take part in the elections. They lost the elections though.
They lost because our urban and even rural polity, that has grievously suffered through militants unbridled extremist and terrorist activities, completely rejected all possibilities that could have brought them in the nationalistic fold. Their destructive activities have brought misery to the people of Pakistan. Their rejection by masses indicate the surging realization of the serious harm they have brought to the national economy and stability of the country.
The confusion on adopting the ongoing war on terror within our geographical boundaries, as reflected through election speeches of some of the winning candidates in Punjab, imply that they are not in line with the realities on ground on the issue. The grass roots of terrorism that emanated out of Afghanistan were adopted as part and parcel of Afghan war legacy by Pakistani volunteers who returned from Jehad therein. The post 9/11 US military intervention in the region had enabled jehadist forces to unite. Many volunteers from surrounding and the middle eastern countries took to arms to fight against the foreign military forces in Afghanistan and are not willing to part away with their weapons. Coupled with that the misconstrued and fractured ideology that they brought to Pakistan as an inheritance of the Afghan war legacy. Tragedy is this that they continue to find customers of their fractured ideologies without any state check on their activities.
As the things stand today, we do not have any other option but to whole heartedly confront terrorists and extremists since the hell they have created has taken the country about three decades back. Our progression to a healthy, economic and attaining the rightful place in the comity of nations has been severely dented because of their anti-state activities. The recent spate of ruthless militants’ attacks in the run up to elections is the testimony of this crazy fanaticism they are engaged in. Times are changing fast. These terrorists are now being effectively denied space to maneuver by our armed forces. For the devastation carried out by the terrorists, feelings of helplessness that had besieged our nationhood earlier is transforming to ones that increasingly call for immediate eradication of the menace from our society. Whatever madness they show through their ruthless bombings and attacks on their fellow Pakistanis, in burning educational institutions, in bombing out the national communication and economic infrastructure and stemming the national progression towards a stronger country, are bringing more and more Pakistanis on the same platform that demand their total annihilation. The exemplary turn out of the masses on election day to cast their votes under their bombing threats is a testimony that such militants, terrorists, extremists, exploiters and opportunists have no place in out society. There is a tiny minority out there of terror band wagon that must not be allowed to dent larger mainstream of Pakistanis. People have given a big mandate to PML(N) in these elections to rid them of terrorism. All eyes are set on what strategy the leading political leadership follows in the ongoing war on terror being fought by the Armed Forces or whether it stand shoulder to shoulder with them or not. The war is being waged on our soil, against our population and against our national institutions and who else but we ourselves can proclaim that it is our war.
On their part Armed Forces have whole heartedly responded to national duties in assisting Election Commission to conduct free, fair and peaceful elections while remaining within the bounds of the constitution. Pakistan Army in its humble capacity has always endeavored to strengthen democracy especially in the last five years and abided by rule of law. Armed Forces are the last hope that the nation eyes to eradicate self proclaimed militant ideologies of dissident groups rebelling against the state. It is not only our moral duty but national duty as well to strengthen their hands that protect our values.