Malala Yousafzai – A watershed event unfolds

Posted by Faheem Belharvi

I am tempted to quote PB Shelley, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” In the course of civilization’s history it has been observed that one sudden event of an extraordinary import like the Malala event ignites a cataclysm that transforms the society from a morbid to a sanguine state. I sense that coincidentally the forces of historical materialism had ripened at the juncture of assassination attempt on Malala Yousafzai, to serve as the catalyst of that upheaval.
During the last over a decade the militants of sorts, be they from Al Qaida, TTP or the sectarian outfits, have perpetrated atrocities more gruesome than the one in Malala’s case but the response from all segments of society and state, except of course the religious lobby, has been of an extraordinary import. The nation seems to be in an upheaval.
Even the shady media groups that always harboured sympathies for the Taliban have unequivocally condemned the attack on Malala’s life. Most of the political parties, barring the religious ones and their cohorts like Imran Khan, have also condemned the attack. There has been vigorous condemnation of the incident from the elected representatives, right from the floors of both the houses of parliament. The national assembly in its brief resolution in Urdu, said “it resolves that until the establishment of peace in the great motherland, the rooting out of terrorists will continue”.
Another resolution adopted unanimously by the Senate after a debate later in the evening said people involved in the “cowardly act” did not deserve to be called human beings and that they were “savages and beasts” out to defame Pakistan. Most of about 15 lawmakers who spoke in the National Assembly, after Shazia Marri of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party opened the debate predicting a defeat of the “forces of darkness”, called for showing no leniency to that mindset. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar called for seriously taking this “wake-up call” and Khawaja Saad Rafiq, the main speaker from the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), called for charting a solid and “unanimous strategy” against extremism.
Response from the defense establishment of the country, being extraordinary, merits careful evaluation. To start with, the army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani paid a priority’ visit to CMH Peshawar to look up Malala and also ensure that foolproof arrangements existed for her treatment. At the end of the visit the army chief declared in no uncertain terms that the menace of terrorism will be eliminated with full force. Later a rare meeting of the top brass of the country’s defense establishment, including heads of all the three services, that is, army, navy and air force, participated and chaired by the chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Khalid Shamim Wynne, was held. The declaration at the conclusion of the meeting stressed that the military was willing and ready to offer any sacrifice to fight and eliminate the menace of terrorism. Although there were no specific decisions articulated at the end of the high profile conference, I believe due to security reasons, but the message to the terrorists was loud and clear. The political analysts have opined that the tone and tenor of the ISPR briefing clearly showed that serious plans to eradicate the menace of terrorism were on the anvil.
After the above high profile meeting of the national security heads, the army chief called on the president and it is sensed that he discussed the latest security situation and Amy’s future plans. The timing of that meeting also suggests that important decisions about national security are in the offing. The deliberate statement of our omnipresent interior minister, Mr Rahman Malik: “Now all roads lead to North Waziristan”, if viewed in the light of the above hectic meetings and conferences, betrays, in military parlance, the likelihood of lot of, potential dust kicking,
Assassination attempt on Malala Yousafzai qualifies to be a defining event. The confusion and division of opinion prevailing about militancy during the past over a decade is now in the melting pot, out of which national consensus seems to be emerging. Particularly the confusion created in the minds of the public regarding the status of the war on terror, as to whose war it is, is bound to be dissolved, once for all. The nation, as a result, will be able to put up a united front against militancy and the forces of darkness. The past annals tell us that wars are not won by the militaries alone. To win a war a united effort is required. The consensus on that appears to be in the making.
Unfortunately for TTP, the evolutionary forces have lured them to commit a series of blunders which helped in separating the grain from the chaff. To begin with, an assassination attempt on a child who had already proved her credentials as the enlightened face of Pakistani nation and the nation was not to take it lying down. That blunder was followed with other blunder, that the TTP took the responsibility for the dastardly act. The TTP followed with another blunder in the form of the statement from the perpetrators that the child will be killed, if she survived the previous attempt. To top it all the terrorists came right in the wounded lion’s den by abducting a brigadier of a military intelligence outfit.
Looks like the nation has learnt a lesson, although the learning has come the hardest way. We have been crying wolf from America, not realizing that it was the domestic fox of TTP that did the damage by taking the lives of thousands of soldiers and innocent civilians, women and children included. Apart from the loss of life and property the greater damage has been done to the psyche of the new generation that came of age during this convulsion. Most of the youngsters, instead of being liberated, are tuned to look through the prism of ethnicity and religious beliefs. A herculean effort will be required for many years to rehabilitate the psychologically disturbed youth.
The days of TTP are numbered in any case.

(A Rashid)

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