Keeping with the tradition in Pakistan, whereby each time after a terrorist attack, fingers are pointed at someone else, this time again blame was laid squarely at the door of others.
The establishment’s favourite boogeyman is India and sure enough the news that the terrorists that shot to death almost 30 people at Bacha Khan University, were affiliated with the Indian intelligence agency RAW, started making the rounds soon afterwards. The government machinery was quick to respond after the attack by blaming each other as well.
The question that the citizenry however was asking was simple. What happened to Zarb e Azab, the military action started a year and a half ago to wipe out militants from the country’s north? While the strikes against the militants may have seen some success, questions still arise as to why then the militants are able to carry out attacks, such as the one on Bacha Khan University.
Subsequent to the vile and horrific shooting by the taliban, of school children of the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014, the ruling machinery seemed to gather pace and came up with the National Action Plan, which included enforcing executions for terrorists sentenced to death; setting up of special anti-terrorist courts under the military to speed up the trial process; banning armed organizations; and taking action against those spreading hate, extremism and sectarianism, among other actions.
While we saw the speeding up of executions, most of those executed were not terrorists but criminals on death row. While some organizations were banned on paper, they are still free to hold rallies and conferences. In fact, one even won 9 seats under a different name in the Local Bodies Elections in Sindh.
Meanwhile, last week all schools in Punjab and many in Sindh were closed down due to terror threats. This is where we have come. Instead of curbing terrorism, we have contributed to the already pathetic state of education in this country, by closing down schools. Which, by the way, is what the taliban and ISIS types want.
One provincial government has decided to provide arms training to teachers and to provide them with guns. An idea so stupid that I do not have words to even show my utmost disgust with it.
And while all of these shenanigans are going on, as mentioned before, organizations and seminaries with terrorist affiliations are still going about their business. One prime example of this is the notorious Red Mosque in the capital Islamabad, whose female wing has issued a video pledging allegiance to ISIS and whose main Mullah constantly threatens the state and government. He and his seminary continue to do this, as well as spreading sectarian hatred. The government has been unable to take him into custody even after a number of criminal complaints lodged against him. A civil society movement against him has been organized and this has resulted in the movement’s members being maligned by him. And still the government seems paralyzed to stop other such parasites from spreading their extremist and hateful agenda.
Such is the power of Islamic terrorism here, that a even after numerous attacks and deaths of its people a nuclear nation is not able to bring down the perpetrators. This is because there exists a general mindset: Muslims could never do such horrible acts. This is what the majority of Pakistani populace believes, whether they are conservative Muslims, Islamists or even moderates. The madrassa (seminary) is the main site of such ignorance, but they are not alone. Our whole education system also promotes this.
Added to this, the military has supported (and continues to support) factions of the taliban as strategic assets for insurgency into Afghanistan and other extremist organizations for insurgency into India and it becomes quite clear why terrorist activities are still going on . It is, after all, very difficult to give up on your assets.
And this is what Pakistan needs to understand. No amount of executions and military strikes are going to stop this monster that we ourselves have created, unless we get to the root of this. We need to say that it is Islamism that is the problem. We need to stop blaming India or Afghanistan and change the mindset of our populace by expunging the superiority of Islamism from our text books. Pakistan needs to look towards secularism if it wants to survive as a country and stop giving Islam precedence over everything else. And it most certainly cannot continue to provide support to the Islamists, use them as assets and then cry victim when those same Islamists come after its people.