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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

A New Hope

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As we approach the end of 64th year of independence of Pakistan, there are many lessons that we can learn from the year 2010. The terrorist organizations operating in Pakistan have negatively influenced its global image. An alarming fact is that Pakistan is seen as one of the most unfavorable countries for foreigners to travel. Overseas Pakistanis avoid visiting their home country due to frequent terrorist attacks. Many people associate this beautiful country to terrorism due to the actions of a handful of extremists.

As we make fresh plans to counter terrorism this year, it is important to learn lessons from the previous years and estimate how terrorism has affected us. This year has not been one of the worst years for Pakistan. The terrorist are still at loose and a lot of effort is needed to free the country from radicalization.

Taliban and other similar organizations continue to retaliate and kill civilians; clear message has come from the unseen but well-recognized enemy that they will not simply not watch us destroy them. The recruitment for militants is still active and it is reflected in the magnitude of suicide attacks this year. There have been a total of 44 suicide attacks resulted in killing of 1033 innocent people and 1992 people succumbed injuries. One of the most deadly attacks this year occurred in Yakka Ghund of Mohmand Agency. This attack killed 108 people. Another major suicide attack that jolted Pakistan took place in Lahore; provincial capital of important province of Pakistan; Punjab. At least 95 worshipers were killed and 92 injured as seven assailants including three suicide bombers attacked Ahmadiyya place of worship in Model Town and Garhi Shahu. Maximum number of casualties took place in the month of July and September in Pakistan. 220 and 216 civilians were killed as a result of terrorist attacks. Casualties of such magnitude have put the people into utmost fear as no citizen feels safe in a shopping mall or even a mosque these days.

Terrorist attacks have killed a large number of civilians. terrifying total of 1704 civilians in year 2010. War against terrorism engulfed 438 security personnel in the line of duty and over four thousand insurgents were killed. The military intrusion in recent years has surely weakened the backbone of terrorist organizations but has not completely broken it. However, it is due to the counter attacks by the Pakistan Army that 4946 militants were killed this year. Since the initiation of operation Rah-e-Nijat in 2003; total 19664 militants have been killed.

It is also important to mention that during this year, Taliban continue to dominate some specific regions irrespective of the military confrontation. This shows that military intensity solely cannot eradicate the roots of terrorism from Pakistan. Alternate and concrete steps are required to curtail the menace of extremism from grass root level. Heads have bowed down and the morale of nation needs to be raised up to fight terrorism which can surely be done but through a well planned strategy. There should be a new hope for the people which shall aim to curb extremist elements in Pakistan in every way possible. To achieve a goal effectively it is essential to have a clear vision that has so far lacked.

IThe battle should be parallel to the military attacks on the strongholds of terrorist organizations. No compromise are to be made with the National Security of Pakistan. The security of citizens is needed to be given top priority, as to minimize the civilians causalities. It will be ‘jihad’ against the mindset of extremist organizations. These organizations have misinterpreted the teachings of Islam for their advantage; and for so many years. The youth of Pakistan also should play a vital role in this battle against extremism. It is time to allow the peace-loving youth to lead the agenda.

The peace process shall be based on three elements Media, Youth and International Muslim Scholars. All the elements will include civil society active participation in confronting the hateful and destructive ideology of terrorist organizations as well as other sectors.

The time has come when media is expected to play its due vital role in curbing extremism in the country. A vigorous media and information campaign is essential which could unfold the reality of Taliban and similar outfits. The true objectives of terrorist organizations need to be unveiled properly. This calls for close interaction and work-plan within active citizen-media bodies. Media should highlight destructive actions of terrorist organizations without bias to help citizens of Pakistan differentiate between the false ideologies portrayed by these organizations and the true Islam.

Ideally youth; as major chunk of population can play distinctively. However mass media can help promoting true Islam and its teachings of non-violence. An organized campaign should be run on electronic, internet and print media that rejects extremist ideologies and promote tolerance within society. Sermons and podium of mosques can also be used as a vital tool to portray moderation which will stand as the best choice for a peaceful society.

The new generation is relatively more open minded. It is imperative to utilize this talent and identify a new generation of young leaders. These leaders can be selected from towns in Pakistan. Once the leaders have been chosen, they should be sensitized to moderation and their duty towards State. These leaders shall be an inspiration of a new hope in Pakistan. This step shall allow the people of various regions to relate to their leaders and confront the utter emptiness of extremism wherever it lurks in Pakistan.

One of the most important steps that still need to be taken in Pakistan is to have at least fifty of the Muslim world’s most respected and renowned preachers to be invited to Pakistan. The aim should be to broadcast the true Islamic teachings. Majority of the population are confused in the present era and the real Islam has been lost somewhere in between. This confusion is easy entrapment and extremist ideologist exploit this factor of confusion. Once this gap is filled between the misinterpreted and true Islam, divine peace is our fate.

It is now time to take such measures to curb the growing militancy in the country. The few terrorists do not reflect the entire nation but surely are enough to ruin the image. They must be curtailed and that too quickly before they crush the economy of the country.

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Ethsam Waheed
Ethsam Waheed is a development practitioner. He writes on Extremism, Governance, International assistance and other social subjects.
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