Pakistan: Need of Timely Action against Terrorism


By Sajjad Shaukat
In order to resolve the menace of terrorism, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on
January 29, this year announced the constitution of 4-member committee comprising impartial
personalities to open negotiations with the warring Taliban. The committee has started
contacts with all the militant groups, especially Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which has
also welcomed government’s offer of peace dialogue. But at the same time, while referring to
the recent terrorist attacks in Bannu, Peshawar, Hangu, assaults on anti-polio workers, media,
minorities and religious scholars, prime minister also stated, “All state institutions will stand
behind the government, if it decides to use force against terrorists.” He also clarified that talks
and terrorism cannot go together, and asked the militants to observe a ceasefire.
Quite contrarily, TTP-led militants continued their subversive activities, particularly in Khyber
Pakhtoonkhwa and Karachi, while in Balochistan, the Taliban have connections with other
insurgents’ outfits like Balachistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Jundollah (God’s soldiers),
which are also involved in similar acts of terrorism.
In fact, since the present government came into power, it has been wavering between fact and
scepticism by following the policy of appeasement towards all the militant groups, especially
TTP which has not ended its terror-activities such as suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted
killings, ruthless beheadings of the innocent people, assaults on security personnel and prominent
Unfortunately, Pakistan is faced with extremely wicked, enigmatically elusive and subjectively
imprecise threat posed by terrorism or TPP. The irony of the fate is that terrorists wear
homogeneously accepted garbs as servants of Islam and use religion as their most effective mask
and credible smokescreen. Their main pledges included demands for enforcement of Islamic
system of governance by imposing Shariah laws (Islamic jurisprudence) in the country, ending
diplomatic relations with US and western world and undertaking Jihad against the non-Muslims.
They became self-proclaimed campaigners of Islam, rejecting all dissenting views on explicit
explanations of Shariah.
Rigidly, locked in insular mind-set, the terrorists, particularly of the TTP oppose the constitution
of Pakistan, reject the system of governance and fight the Armed Forces by leaving no stone
unturned in promoting their politically motivated agenda to gratify their power motives. Whereas
they cause loss of lives, damage property and subject the entire nation with psychological pain
and grief, while showing no compassion by openly rejoicing their criminal strikes.
Now, these militants are expanding their violent activities by targeting all unguarded, reticent
and mute segments of society. The aim is to blow out their boasting audacity and show off their
strength of defiance. Suicide bombings on the personnel of the security forces and law-enforcing
agencies present one pattern, while targeting schools, shrines, mosques and places of worship,
religious processions, funerals and markets specially meant for women and children clearly
explain their un-Islamic patterns of behaviour.
Condemning the latest acts of terrorism, particularly in Rawalpindi by the TTP, Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan stated that attacks on innocent
persons and armed forces would not be tolerated. On the one side, they have repeatedly been
emphasizing upon peace talks with the Taliban, especially with the TTP, while on the other,
taking note of their terror-attacks, they have also suggested strong action against these militants.
In this context, although the rulers have expedited the formulation and promulgation of anti-
terror laws as part of counter-terrorism strategy, yet they are considering two options-dialogue or
It is mentionable that TTP is acting upon shrewd tactics, as sometimes it claims responsibility for
its terror-assaults and sometimes denies the same. For example, when its militants had attacked
the church in Peshawar in September, 2013, TTP did not accept responsibility, but afterwards, by
misinterpreting Islam, its spokesman said that it was in accordance with Shariah. Similarly, TTP
condemned bomb blast in the Tableeghi Markaz (preaching center) in Peshawar, which killed
nine people on January 16, 2014, but, it claimed responsibility of attacks on police in Malakand,
Shangla and Mansehra including military convoy in Bannu and R.A Bazaar near GHQ.
Notably, the TTP new Chief Maulana Fazlullah had dismissed the proposed peace negotiations
with the government as a “waste of time”, and vowed to target the prime minister, chief minister,
chief of army staff and corpse commanders.
However, tough terms of the TTP for reconciliation show double game. In the recent past, in
a letter, Pakistani Taliban demanded that Pakistan should pull out of the Afghan war, abandon
its pro-American and pro-western policies and change its constitution and foreign policy in
conformity with Islamic Shariah.
But, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had pointed out that the Taliban’s offer of
conditional truce was unacceptable, adding, “Taliban groups cannot dictate the state.” While
indicating unclear policy, the government is indirectly pacifying the TTP and other Taliban
insurgents who have been encouraged, and keep on challenging the writ of the state.
While, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif initiated peace process with the Taliban in accordance
with the decision of the All Parties Conference (APC) in which leaders of the mainstream
political parties had participated. Contrarily, now, situation has entirely changed. Recently, while
condemning the inhuman activities of the insurgents, particularly by those of the TTP, more than
100 Islamic scholars clarified in their joint fatwa (edict) and separate statements that “killing
of innocent people, target killings and suicide bombings including sectarianism are against the
spirit of Islam…the terrorists’ self-adopted interpretation of Islam was nothing but ignorance and
digression from the actual teachings of the religion.”
In fact, Islam is a religion of universal application, as it emphasizes peace, democracy,
moderation and human rights including tolerance of political groups, religious communities and
sects which are in minority in a country. In this connection, the Constitution of 1973 which was
unanimously adopted, clearly states that Pakistan is basically a democracy guided by the Islamic
principles and values—no law would be made contrary to Quran and Sunnah.
Undoubtedly, Jihad is a sacred obligation, but its real spirit needs to be understood clearly, as
murdering innocent women and children is not Jihad. These Taliban and their banned affiliated
groups are defaming Islam, concept of Jihad, and are weakening Pakistan.
As terrorists have accelerated their anti-social, undemocratic and un-Islamic practices, hence,
people from all segment of life and majority of politicians want that a handful of terrorist
elements must not be allowed to dictate their agenda and to impose their self-perceived ideology
on the majority of Pakistanis.
While the present government issued three ordinances which are before the parliament—yet to
take a concrete form of law. Nonetheless, it is due to delay in formulation and implementation of
counter-terrorism policy that the Taliban who continue their brutal acts have been encouraged by
the contradictory approach of the present government.
Terrorism as a phenomenon needs to be fought collectively and the entire nation has to put up a
collective effort. In this regard, a meaningful message must immediately be sent to the terrorists
that the government has the will and power to eliminate them.
Government has to take lead to fight the threat posed by terrorists, especially those of the TTP.
Bloodshed must not be allowed to spread at the will of the militants. There is a dire need to
develop political will to fight the insurgents through well-devised strategy and firm resolve. The
writ of the Govt must be established at all costs and all and sundry be brought to the folds of law.
In this regard, political leadership must take tough, but rationale decisions without any further
delay. It must also be realized that time is running out, while terrorists are getting stronger with
For the purpose, Pakistan’s political leaders and media anchors must condemn terrorists’ attacks
on the innocent persons, personnel of the security forces and other law-enforcing agencies with
disdain and social contempt. They must pay homage to those who lost their lives while fighting
the terrorists. For example, this includes Police officers like Chaudhary Aslam (Martyred) and
young student Aitzaz Hussan (Martyred), as the entire nation is proud of such brave sons of soil.
Besides, terror attacks at Peshawar Tableeghi Markaz must be thoroughly investigated and the
culprits must be brought to book.
Particularly, religious clerics must come forward to denounce such subversive acts, and
participate actively in countering the menace of terrorism. Different factions must hold collective
conferences on faith related issues and society be organized to fight these criminal elements.
Despite all the efforts, there is a dire need to devise a comprehensive strategy to deal with the
terrorists with iron hands. Therefore, instead of pursuing contradictory policy, the government
needs to act upon a timely action against terrorism, as any delay in this respect will further
embolden these militants who will intensify their terror attacks.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,
Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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