Mian Sahab, it’s time for you to examine your counter extremism policy -by Junaid Qaiser

Mian Sahab, united we stand, divided we fall

Terrorists have once again attacked the Lahore city, this time their target was the sacred shrine of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh Ali Hajveri, a Persian Sufi and scholar during the 11th century who significantly contributed to the spreading of Islam in South Asia. In the past, the terrorists have attacked a number of shrines in various parts of Pakistan, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally-Administered Tribal Areas. In March 2009, the Taliban militants detonated the shrine of Rehman Baba, a 17th century Sufi poet of the Pashtun language. In March 2010, terrorists attacked Eid Milad-un-Nabi processions in Faisalabad and D I Khan, killing at least seven people. Only last week, in June 2010, the terrorists attacked and blew up the shrine of Mian Umar Baba in the jurisdiction of Chamkani police station. These attacks violate Pakistan’s cultural sovereignty transforming the national identity to a radical religious one.

These attacks have caused considerable anger among the common people of Pakistan. In the past, anger over terrorist attacks used to be largely confined to the urban elite. For the first time, it’s good news and omen that there is now widespread anger among large sections of the common people, even in religious section. In view of this, no organisation in Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the suicide blasts. On the contrary, they have taken care to deny responsibility. The attack on the Data Darbar in Lahore is a signal to the Pakistani govt and army to halt the Waziristan operation. Punjab based banned organizations are allied with militants in Waziristan, some observers accuse and suggest that they have backing of PML-N and Punjab government and some of the religious sections who are justifying the suicide attacks. The PML-N has maintained a studied silence on this subject and has refrained from involvement in operations in southern Punjab. Information Secretary PPP Fauzia Wahab said that PML-N has vote-bank of extremists’ elements and it would be difficult task to crush the extremists’ networks from the province. According to media reports, Fauzia Wahab said that PML-N has won elections in Punjab with the support of extremists organizations.

Sadly, there is still support for Taliban and Al-Qaida in some of Pakistani political and intelligence infrastructure. Punjab based PML-N is finding it hard to recognize terrorism as a local phenomenon, that is what called a short sighted party policy It is generally believed, that the Punjab Government is led by the right wing party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), is Taliban apologetic and weak in the fight against the terrorism. It is deliberately but illogically find lame excuses and concoct cover-ups for the terrorists by citing the reaction to the drone attacks or continuity of Musharraf Policy. Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif added a new twist to the debate by calling for the government to negotiate with Pakistani Taliban militants, without identifying exactly with which groups Sharif expected the government to talk?

There are numerous militant organizations in Pakistan, and they often overlap and work together. The government has brokered peace deals with Taliban groups along the Afghan border in the past, but they have usually collapsed and have often given the militants time to regroup and consolidate their control.

The PPP, ANP and other democratic forces charge is that the PML-N is soft on some of these terror outfits for political gains. A problem lies in PML-N’s policy regarding terrorism. According to many observers, the Punjab government has decided not to fight the Taliban and provide security to citizens. Almost a month ago the Taliban have struck two Ahmadi worship places in Lahore, proving they are a potent force in the city. But all this has not led to increased security. According to local media, the cameras were not working at the Sufi shrine and police on guard, after the first explosion, thought it was a party with fireworks.

The leader of the PML-N Mian Nawaz Sharif is not prepared to admit the presence and activities of the second combine in Punjab. In the past, many PML-N leaders have had contacts with banned militant outlets and had taken the help of their cadres during election campaigns. Members of the provincial government, which is controlled by the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, have resisted — a clear move against these banned militant organizations, analysts and observers say is driven by its reliance on banned militant groups to deliver key votes during elections.

Our[confused] opposition leaders are suggesting that the government should negotiate with the country’s Taliban militants to improve security. The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), which is considered close to right-wing religious parties, has never openly backed the ruling Pakistan People’s Party-led government’s war on terror. All moderate political forces criticized the PML-N after senior party leader and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah met and traveled with leaders of the banned militant group while campaigning for by-polls in Jhang district. The PPP and PML-N have differences over handling terror groups in Punjab with the PPP demanding that the provincial government crack down on terrorists who have been striking across Pakistan’s most prosperous and populous province with alarming regularity. Fauzia Wahab insinuated that the PML-N won elections with support from extremists.

Ms. Wahab said: “There has always been a nexus between the PML-N and religious elements across the country. The PML-N succeeded in the 2008 elections due to their support.” “I think the PML-N has always had connections to religious fundamentalists, whether they are the Jamaat-i-Islami or the Anjuman Sipah-i-Sahaba or the Lashkar-e-Taiba.”

Officials in the ruling Pakistan People’s Party have called on the provincial government to crack down on militant groups once supported by the country’s intelligence agencies for their India-centric policy and ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan, and now allied with the Pakistani Taliban against the state. PPP clearly and critically described causes and cures of terrorism in its election 2008 manifesto, i.e that democracy never wages terrorism, dismantle militant groups that take hostages and impose their writ through force and terrorism and militancy will be vigorously confronted. On the other hand, in it’s election 2008 manifesto PML-N’s understanding is very much naive and apologetic and described in this way, extremism and suicide bombing is raising against foreign occupation and foreign dominance, strengthening of law enforcing agencies to detect terrorist and their groups and supporters. influence the groups supporting terrorism through intermediaries and civil society organizations and and intensification of diplomatic efforts to deal with the underlying causes like Kashmir and Palestine.

It’s [acting] president Makhdoom Javed Hashmi[living in Danialistan] has said that war against terror is not war of Pakistan while it was imposed on us by US. Such sort of[confused]elements have shown very weak leadership in allowing terrorism to prosper in the Punjab. Now, PML-Q leader and former federal minister for Food and Agriculture, Alhaj Sikandar Hayat Bosan Tuesday asked Punjab government to come up with a clear stance on terrorism to save the nation from sinking into abysmal violence Pakistan is fighting a most critical war against terrorism, yet there are those apologists of terrorism, and they are plenty, who shamelessly and hypocritically shift the blame on to some “foreign hand” or somebody who is “alien to Islam”. Our[popular anti democratic]media, [arrogant]judiciary and [right wing]political parties are not supporting present civilian government on any front. Corporate plutocratic media, as a sole grand savior of the nationalism, sovereignty and morality, seems to be fomenting instability and despondency in the society. It is imposing and thrusting hard line teaching, eulogizing dictatorship and count demerits of democracy. The so called independent Judiciary directly challenges the sovereignty and supremacy of that august representative body.

Let there be no doubt: the problem is homegrown, terrorism is a local phenomenon and it has internal features and factors. PML-N wakes up, more than 30,000 Pakistanis have been killed in terrorist attacks since September 11. It should come up with a clear policy against all sorts of extremism and radical tendencies, as all political, social and religious stakeholders are suggesting ranging from Sunni Ittihad Council, MQM, ANP, PML-Q to PPP . It’s also the responsibility of the Punjab government that it should trace links of some influential political people with extremists and bring them to justice. As it is very much war of ideas, so along with security measures and military operations, there is a need to address intellectual sources and structure that promote extremism.

It is reality that extremism is a product of repressive and obscurantists social educational system and long dictatorial regimes [undemocratic polity] converted peaceful citizens into extremists. Now, we have to focus on creating intellectual and physical structures to transform the society on modern lines. We need to overhaul the education sector on urgent basis to ensure quality unbiased education for all. We have to launch a consensus based mass campaign against extremism and it’s negative impact on the citizens, society and the state. Unless the society at large express their anger and aversion to extremist mentality among their social and political group, things will not improve, all leaders either religious or political must understand it’s internal dimensions and strongly condemn all acts of violence, extremists must understand humans are born to live and evolve and not born to kill others over religious interpretation.



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