Written by Sajjad Shaukat
Although war against terrorism is quite different, as it is against an invisible and ruthless enemy which does not respect any rule, yet we can remember Shakespeare’s poetic expression which described war as ‘sons of hell’ is even applicable today in Pakistan where terrorists’ violent acts of destruction, fire and devastation have engulfed the entire span of living and social order, especially in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Balochistan and Karachi.
Since terrorism is illegal and unconstitutional, therefore, it tends to enlarge its size through illegitimate means, using covert tactics and clandestine undercurrents. In this regard, during the last ten years, Pakistan which has become special arena of this different war has been facing terror-activities such as suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings, beheadings of the innocent people, assaults on security personnel and prominent religious figures including sectarian violence. Besides blowing children schools and attacking the female teachers in order to deny education to girls, the militants also targeted mosques, Imambargahs, mausoleums, and disgraced dead bodies. Their pitiless acts resulted into killings of several persons in Pakistan.
However, their barbaric acts could be judged from a recent video which was uploaded by Rasool Jan who had joined the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 2008, and left the TTP after having seen the acts of barbarism by the thugs. They had decapitated their victims and played soccer with the heads chopped by the TTP Commander of Matini named Jangraiz Khan. This shows insurgents’ disrespect of human life and their lack of knowledge about Islam.
It is notable that welcoming ceasefire offer of the TTP, the government led by PML-N has not only halted the air strikes on the hideouts of the militants in the tribal areas, but also resumed the suspended peace dialogue with the Taliban. But, taking note of the terror-attack in the District Court of Islamabad which killed 11 people including an additional session judge on March 4, this year coupled with assault on the anti-polio workers in the Khyber Agency, both the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have repeatedly said that peace talks and violent acts of terrorism cannot go side by side. But despite it, the government decided to continue peace talks with the Taliban.
Nevertheless, the threat posed by terrorism is dreadful, real and painfully ugly. The outcome of terrorist strike remains predictable, as it brings destruction, remorse and social disorder with awful human tragedy.
Therefore, the entire society earnestly looks towards the security forces and law-enforcing agencies to undertake steps to provide immediate relief to the victims—break terrorist networks and make life safer.
No doubt, security forces and law-enforcing agencies have been working very hard to fight the menace of terrorism, and have paid heavy price by sacrificing their lives, while fighting the terrorists. Unfortunately, the terrorists have launched clever propaganda to promote their self-assumed agenda by associating themselves with Islam and creating sympathizers in social milieu, knowing that majority loves Islam.
Hence, a united national front could not be created to fight and eliminate the threat posed by terrorists.
In this context, Judiciary, as part of national segment appeared more independent and did not join in the fight against terrorism. In this context, people have been whispering around that Judiciary, especially under the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had developed some kind of vendetta against Pakistan Army and showed insatiable desire to summon top military leaders, while maintaining a soft mind-set for the insurgents. However, such a mollycoddle attitude of courts for the insurgents encouraged them in their criminal acts of violence. People also talk that 12 innocent people in District Court of Islamabad lost their lives, as many terrorists managed to get freed from courts for lack of evidence.
While, Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies and intelligence organizations which are well-prepared in coping with terrorism are engaged in identifying and locating the terrorist networks and their support-bases including informers and accomplices, were discouraged as their actions were being challenged through courts of law regarding the validity and legality of their decisions. The militants’ lawyers availed the opportunity by indicating procedural penal flaws. Thus, many terrorists were freed by the courts due to lack of solid evidence in legal terms, though reality of their subversive activities existed. Owing to this practice, efficiency of law-enforcing agencies drops to zero level, giving a greater setback to war against terrorism and making the concerned official insecure in face of judicial grilling.
Terrorist presently under custody, if released by the courts because of judicial discourse will certainly join their main terrorist networks, thereby strengthening terrorist groups. Consequently, this ‘new style war’ will turn in favor of terrorists instead of law-enforcing and intelligence agencies which may suffer more in the hands of these culprits.
In fact, TTP have been acting upon a dual strategy, as sometimes it accept responsibility for its terror-attacks, but sometimes, it deny the same. But contradictory statements of its spokesmen prove that this militant outfit is behind several subversive acts which still continue at various places. In this respect, TTP has refused that it was behind the recent attacks in Islamabad and Khyber Agency, but it accepted responsibility when Taliban insurgents targeted the Rangers, Police and anti-polio workers in Karachi in wake of the peace talks.
Similarly, Taliban had claimed responsibility for the brutal massacre of 23 personnel of the Frontier Constabulary who were abducted from Mohmand Agency, four years ago and later shifted to Afghanistan.
It is mentionable that the TTP had condemned the brutal assault on the church in Peshawar. But, afterwards, its spokesman had remarked that it was in accordance with Sharia (Islamic Jurisprudence) which indicated that the group was behind that ruthless attack. So, ambivalent statements of the TTP-led Taliban have endorsed that it has been playing double game. Similarly, as part of its duality, TTP did not claim responsibility for the incident of Islamabad District Court which assassinated the honorable Session Judge, Rafaqat Hussain Awan and a young female lawyer, Miss Fiza including many others who lost their lives. It was a stunning shock for the entire nation as the awful event occurred when negotiation process with Taliban was being vigorously pursued by the government.
In this connection, on March 4, the Leader of the Opposition, Syed Khurshid Shah of the PPP including several parliamentarians doubted the intentions of the TTP, as they discussed Islamabad District Court’s incident. They were of the view that on one hand, the TTP announced ceasefire and on the other hand, it was carrying out terrorist acts. They stated that ceasefire from Taliban was another deception attack—killing innocent people and warned that parliament house might be the next target. They criticized the interior minister for declaring Islamabad a safe city few days back, expressing concern that even the Presidency and Prime Minister House were not safe.
It is of particular attention that glorification of terrorists through media coverage of their pledges, claims etc. also provides them confidence and resilience to continue their violent activities. Unfortunately, it would not be wrong to state that the terrorists can get space in media more conveniently and free of cost, as most of the domestic channels appear more motivated and obliged to project their crimes, while businessmen and state officials are required to make extra efforts to get their advertisements and stories published through media.
Although it is essential for the whole nation to get united to defeat the different enemy, yet certain entities maintained intentional or unintentional sympathy for these Taliban. Consequently, the terrorists are glorified and felt encouraged to continue their criminal acts.
So, the war against terrorism has to be fought by the entire nation, Judiciary and media—being part of the state will have to realize the threat. Therefore, terrorists must not be allowed to get freed and rejoin their main groups. The nation demands that the militants produced before the courts must be punished for their crimes. Otherwise, judicial activism, targeting the armed forces will prove self destructive. While the entire nation pays homage to those who lost their lives in Islamabad District Court in the hands of terrorists.
Media must not project the terrorists’ stance frequently. In this way, they are emboldened, as their pledges get glorified irrespective of their evil nature or wicked designs.
Now, all segments of society like political and religious leaders including Unlmas (Religious scholars) denounce the anti-social, undemocratic and un-Islamic practices of the militants, particularly of the TTP, who want to impose their own self-interpreted system of Sharia on the majority of Pakistanis. But, our patriot entities should not envisage that only security agencies can fight this war against the menace of terrorism. So a united front of the entire nation must be formed to defeat the terrorists.
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