s on my way to United Kingdom, when I heard the sad news of an attack on the Shrine of Hazrat Data Gunj Bakhsh Ali Hajveri (RA). On landing at Karachi Airport for a connecting flight, I immediately rang back to my office and directed my Personal Secretary to arrange a blood camp at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry for the injured. It was the only thing that was possible at that time, but I was unable to understand that as to how the situation could be controlled, which was fast getting out of hand with every passing day.
As many as 47 people were killed while more than a hundred others injured in the atrocious attacks on the shrine of one of the most renowned Sufis of the Subcontinent. The three suicide attacks that rocked Data Darbar shook the entire nation.
The people of Lahore, and indeed millions across the country, hold a deep sense of emotional and spiritual attachment to Data Gunj Bakhsh (RA), who died 966 years ago.
It was indeed a sad incident that a Sufi Saints shrine had to bear the brunt of such a barbaric violence. It was something that the Sufis always denounced because they were the preachers of love.
The attack on Data Darbar is not just an attack on a shrine but an attack on all the believers of Islam. For the last few years, thousands of people including civilians and personnel of law enforcement agencies had lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. Many a time these terrorists attacked worship places and religious congregations in almost all parts of the country.
In my opinion, now is the high time to take action and launch a decisive crackdown otherwise no government in future also will be able to bring normalcy to this land, which is known as a land of peace and its religion is a religion of love and tolerance.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has taken a very right step by convening a national conference of all major political parties to chalk out a comprehensive strategy. Since it is not a political issue, the PM should also ensure the participation of all religious parties in the upcoming landmark anti-terror moot. The PM has, reportedly, given a green signal to reconstitution of National Counter Terrorism Authority with a mandate to formulate an anti-terrorism strategy, which is need of the hour as the attackers of religious places are not humans, but they are monsters that reside within us. We should identify them for the sake of our future generations and for the sake of this country. A firm strategy should be planned to counter these barbaric acts.
It is known to all of us that the terrorists made their way in the presence of armed police guards and walkthrough gates. It means that the security system was not up to the mark and was defective or there were unguarded entry points that the attackers made use of.
Pre-empting a suicide mission is extremely difficult unless there is an excellent intelligence available well-ahead of time as it has now proven that the walkthrough gates and the armed guards are unable to prevent any such attack. Despite having best brains in the world and to some extent best equipment we still have not managed any real breakthroughs.
Another issue that needs attention is the growing poverty and economic discontent amongst the people, especially the poor, which is perhaps a new and the most alluring incentive for suicide bombers recruitment.
Besides convening a national conference of all the political and religious parties to evolve a foolproof strategy to counter terror, the government should also review its economic policies as well.
It should immediately call a meeting with the heads of all the chambers and trade bodies in the country and give a patient hearing to their issues besides seeking their opinion on this burning issue of terrorism.
The business community in the country has both the ability to give guidelines to the government. I am sure that once they are provided with a level playing field they could do the miracle as the country has no dearth of resources.
As it is not the terrorism alone that has taken the entire nation hostage but there are a number of other challenges that have now started taking their toll. The shortage of water is hitting the agriculture sector. The acute shortage of electricity is denting the manufacturing and exports sectors alike. An enabling business atmosphere can help avert such gruesome acts in future. Strengthening the economy through regional trade and other such measures are a pre-requisite to weed out the menace of terrorism.
As unless the leadership of the country actually begins caring more about its people and the well-being of this nation by taking wholesome corrective measures there can be no end to terrorism in this country.
TAILPIECE: New President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III while addressing a mammoth gathering of over 500 thousand people after being sworn into office on June 30 said: If there is no corruption, there is no poverty. This is not just a slogan for a poster; this is the principle behind my administration.
The writer is a former Senator and President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.