Combating terrorism

Terrorism is likened to the Hydra of Greek mythology, which was an ancient serpent-like chthonic water beast, with reptilian traits, that possessed numerous heads - and for each head cut off it grew two more - and poisonous breath so virulent even its tracks were deadly.
Pakistan’s previous government proved inept in tackling the menace of terrorism, while the interim government proved equally incompetent, as the terrorists struck election campaigns with impunity.
As the nation emerges from the aftermath of the polls and is poised to seat a new government, it is looking up to the new incumbents to rid it of this major threat. Incidentally, the Hydra was killed by Heracles as the second of his Twelve Labours. The question is: would the government of Mian Nawaz Sharif prove equal to the task?
If past performance is any indication of the future, the populous province of Punjab, which was ruled by the PML-N, was equally intimidated by terror attacks and failed to curb the deadly assaults.
The previous federal government was so engrossed in its bouts of corruption and rampant mismanagement that it failed to show the political will to evolve a unified strategy and undertake pragmatic steps to control or eliminate the menace of terrorism. The nation looks towards the authorities concerned as and when the terrorist strike at public and government places, kidnap political leaders at gunpoint, leaving death and mayhem in their wake. But the state mechanism remains oblivious to the threat, despite clear warnings issued by the intelligence agencies.
Unfortunately, terrorists are at liberty to roam about in the streets, bazaars and public places. Media exposé reveal that terrorists are facilitated by some of the political leaders, who afford patronage to these miscreants. The situation certainly demands serious and unified crackdown to root out the terrorists and their sponsors so that innocent lives of Pakistani citizens are saved, and peace and harmony is restored in the country.
Indeed, combating terrorism is a Herculean task, but well begun is half done. The new government’s task is cut out to unify the nation against terrorist threat and prepare a concrete strategy to deal with the peril. A unified and collective front will not only frustrate the anti-Pakistan forces, but will also reduce the threat of terrorism.
To eradicate the scourge of terrorism, all elements of the society need to pool their resources. Opinion builders, like the media and the intelligentsia, human rights activists and even the common people must be vigilant to identify the terrorists so that the blight can be eliminated.
Unfortunately, some active members of the society, who have undertaken to eradicate the bane of terrorism, are singled out for censure and harassment: for instance, Ansar Burney, who is an eminent human rights activist of international fame and has been successfully participating in some of the most difficult operations to help facilitate efforts to rescue and release people of different nationalities abroad, trapped in a web of terminal providence, with no hope for any external influence, except the divine intervention.
Mr Burney has condemned terrorism wherever and whenever it happened around the globe, but being a human rights activist always fought for condemned death row prisoners across the world, without discrimination of caste, colour, class, creed and religion - only on humanitarian and compassionate grounds and for the sake of human rights to ensure the human dignity.
He also raised his voice for clemency for late Sarabjit Singh (the convicted terrorist in Pakistani jail), to convert his death sentence into life imprisonment purely on humanitarian grounds, as he was waiting to be hanged for more than two decades.
Sarabjit Singh was murdered by a jail inmate in Pakistan and his body was shifted to India. His sister Dalbir Kaur was allowed to visit Pakistan to see her brother, who was still hospitalised, but on return to India she revealed her typical Indian face by urging the Indians to take revenge of Sarabjit’s death; resultantly, Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah was targeted fatally. She also fired a salvo at Ansar Burney alleging that he demanded Rs 250 million to save the life of his brother. Such shameless allegations are not only baseless, but deserve outright condemnation.
Unfortunately, similar other anti-Pakistan elements have organised armed assailants to target the Chairman of Ansar Burney Trust International through bomb attacks.
Terrorism is a demon that can be combated only through the whole-hearted participation of the entire society and not targeting the benefactors of human rights, who work tirelessly to benefit humanity.

The writer is a former group captain of PAF, who also served as air and naval attaché at Riyadh. Currently, he is a columnist, analyst and host of programme Defence and Diplomacy
    on PTV.

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