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Consensus on terrorism
[Dawn] THE tone for a much-needed multi-party conference has finally been set. The leadership of the Awami National Party (ANP) has started contacting the leadership of other political parties.

The plan is to have the crucial discussion somewhere in the middle of next month with the focus on a consensus response to terrorism, militancy and insurgency.

If such a conference becomes a reality, it would reflect the response of the majority of Pakistain's citizenry belonging to ideologically, ethnically, geographically, religiously, politically and culturally divergent backgrounds.

The conference earns immense importance for three overwhelming reasons.

First, Pakistain is facing an existential threat due to active militancy and insurgency. The scope of this threat extends to the constitutional polity, economy and cultural diversity of the state of Pakistain. Militancy through terrorism and insurgency through guerrilla warfare have started pushing Pakistain towards civil war, economic bankruptcy and a cultural black hole. The collective defence mechanism of state and society thus needs to come into action before it is too late.

Second, both the state and society of Pakistain are being pushed into isolation due to terrorism and militancy; they are being isolated from both regional states and societies and those further away, with respect to divergences in worldview and in terms of Pakistain as a viable polity. The viability of a state in the modern international state system is heavily contingent on its capability to develop multilateral alliances with regional and international states.

The governments of almost all states have developed serious reservations with respect to the policies, responses and strategies of the Pak state in terms of world peace and security. This is an alarming situation to which all segments across Pakistain's political divide must give serious consideration.

Of late, policy and research papers by various think tanks dubbing Pakistain a failed state have been doing the rounds in political and academic circles both domestically and internationally. The frustration of the people due to mass murders and indiscriminate killings in kabooms or suicide kabooms has reached a stage where they find no other explanation other than that which is given for a failed state.

Third, almost all stakeholders in Pakistain's state and society have suffered badly due to religious militancy. Irrespective of differences in ethnicity, culture, language and ideology, members of virtually all segments of society have been attacked: killed or maimed in kabooms, incidents of assassination and shootouts.

Though the ANP has borne the brunt of religious militancy in Pakistain, no adherent of liberal democracy or Islamic democracy is safe from attacks by the jihad boys' network.

The current provincial president of the Pakistain Moslem League-Nawaz, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
... formerly NWFP, still Terrorism Central...
, has been attacked five times. Maulana Fazlur Rehman
Deobandi holy man, known as Mullah Diesel during the war against the Soviets, his sympathies for the Taliban have never been tempered by honesty ...
, chief of the Jamaat-e-Ulema Islam, has been attacked twice. The president of the Qaumi Watan Party has similarly been targeted several times. Former head of the Jamaat-e-Islami
...The Islamic Society, founded in 1941 in Lahore by Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, aka The Great Apostosizer. The Jamaat opposed the independence of Bangladesh but has operated an independent branch there since 1975. It maintains close ties with international Mohammedan groups such as the Moslem Brotherhood. the Taliban, and al-Qaeda. The Jamaat's objectives are the establishment of a pure Islamic state, governed by Sharia law. It is distinguished by its xenophobia, and its opposition to Westernization, capitalism, socialism, secularism, and liberalist social mores...
, the late Qazi Hussain Ahmed
...the absolutely humorless, xenophobic former head of the Pak Jamaat-e-Islami. He was also head of the MMA, a coalition of religious parties formed after 2001 that eventually collapsed under the weight of the holy egos involved. Qazi was the patron of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar during the Afghan mujaheddin's war against the Soviets. His sermons are described as fiery, which means they rely heavily on gospel and not at all on logic. Qazi once recommended drinking camel pee for good health, but that was before his kidneys went...
, was also targeted in Mohmand Agency
... Named for the Mohmand clan of the Sarban Pahstuns, a truculent, quarrelsome lot. In Pakistain, the Mohmands infest their eponymous Agency, metastasizing as far as the plains of Peshawar, Charsadda, and Mardan. Mohmands are also scattered throughout Pakistan in urban areas including Karachi, Lahore, and Quetta. In Afghanistan they are mainly found in Nangarhar and Kunar...
. Earlier, the chairperson of the Pakistain People's Party was assassinated after an address at a public meeting in Rawalpindi.

Various institutions of the security forces, including the police, Frontier Corps and the military, have been targeted continuously, with attacks, kidnappings and beheadings of their personnel having become almost a norm in the tactical paradigm of the jihad boys' network.

According to the figures collected by the Islamabad-based Pakistain Institute of Peace Studies, 1,577 terrorist attacks were carried out in the country last year alone, killing some 2,050 people and injuring 3,822. It is likely that this pattern will remain in evidence this year too.

It seems that the proposed multi-party conference will draw a clear line between those who stand for a constitutional democratic polity, social justice, an assertive civil society, a sovereign parliament and an economy of peace in Pakistain and those who want otherwise. This might bring to the fore the forces that stand for a prosperous, progressive and peaceful Pakistain and help identify the forces that consciously or unconsciously resist the preservation of human dignity, pluralism and indigenous wisdom.

Most of the time, debate on terrorism in Pakistain ends in a deadlock due to the lack of understanding of the causes and triggers. Moreover, militancy, terrorism and insurgency are confused with one another because of the lack of understanding of the complexity of diverse factors. This results in more complications and frustrations for the political parties, the security establishment, elected governments and the people. This seems to be the major reason for the absence of a multi-pronged, comprehensive counterinsurgency, counterterrorism and counter-militancy strategy in Pakistain.

This confusion and the consequent deadlock might be avoided if the conference's agenda is clearly and carefully delineated. Its agenda can be set to deliberate on the socio-cultural, socio-economic and socio-political aspects of religious militancy on the one hand and to take into consideration the construction of the jihad boy discourse, its permeation and tactics of social control in Pakistain on the other.

The conference might also explore the local, provincial, national, regional and international factors that contribute to terrorism in Pakistain. Deliberations on the various layers of religious militancy and terrorism might result in a comprehensive policy that incorporates military, political, economic, strategic and tactical responses to terrorism in Pakistain.

The conference could clearly define the role and responsibilities of elected federal and provincial governments, the political parties, the military establishment, media and civil society organizations and the intelligentsia in implementing the comprehensive policy devised. It is hoped that this will result in a clear strategy with targets achievable within a certain time frame.
Posted by:Fred

#1  Most of the time, debate on terrorism in Pakistain ends in a deadlock due to the lack of understanding of the causes and triggers. Seems to be a cross-cultural trait in many countries. Need to know your enemy but to not engage in too much navel inspection about what to do about it. Often those at the highest level of government seem to be handicapped to make a decision or act in the best interests of the country.
Posted by: JohnQC   2013-01-29 10:26