January Issue 2015

By | News & Politics | Opinion | Published 9 years ago

It was the cold-blooded murder of 134 children by the Taliban at the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16 that set the government wheels in motion.

After taking the deaths of 55,000 plus civilians and army personnel lying down, parties of all shades and opinions, including those who kept pushing for talks with the Taliban, have banded together to thrash out a counter-terrorism strategy.

For a country that has faced the scourge of terrorism since 2002, one would have expected a strategy  to already be in place. Several committees have come and gone, identified the problems, recommended solutions, but no one is prepared to take the bull by the horns. Instead, some have preferred to ride the bull or let it get away — for their own selfish interests. Ask the Prime Minister’s law minister.

Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the Mumbai massacre, has been granted sudden bail and Malik Ishaq of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the man behind the murder of hundreds of Shias, has been freed from detention. Meanwhile, Jamatud Dawa’s Hafiz Saeed continues to spew venom against India at mammoth rallies in Lahore and elsewhere. And the infamous Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid continues to attack the government from the pulpit of a government-run mosque.

Following the Peshawar attack, in a typical knee-jerk reaction, the government decided to lift the moratorium on the death penalty and, additionally, proposed the establishment of military courts.  But will such controversial measures turn the tide of extremism that has spread its tentacles across the length and breadth of the country?

What has the government really done to rein in around 20,000 plus madrassahs, several of them nurseries of terrorism? What measures has it taken to curb the hate literature that is being distributed through the internet or the proscribed organisations that keep surfacing under different names?

This is a multi-pronged war that has to be fought on every front, and with single-minded determination. There is no room for wavering or backtracking. Or making any distinction between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ Taliban. The flawed national security policy has to be laid to rest forever.

The Peshawar bloodbath has cast a pall of gloom on the coming year. But all is not lost. There is Malala, that wonder woman from Swat, who continues to battle on, with her bullet-riddled head held high. And then there are those brave activists — Mohammad Jibran Nasir, Shaan Taseer, Sabeen Mahmud and others — who converged on the Lal Masjid to protest against the fulminations of Maulana Aziz.

Hopefully, 2015 will see these brave souls ride the tide that threatens to submerge us all, and emerge with their heads held high. Here’s to a better year — and a happier one.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.

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