War with the Ruthless Enemy

Dialogue on counter-terrorism strategy  By Sajjad Shaukat

While describing war between two sovereign states, Clausewitz concedes that commerce and diplomacy are much like war. According to him, “War is a clash between major interests which are resolved by bloodshed—that is the only way in which it differs from other conflicts.” Despite it, the two warring parties follow the rules of the game and Geneva Conventions, and observe ceasefire, ultimately settle their dispute through agreement.

Although war against terrorism is quite different, as it is against an invisible and the ruthless enemy which does not respect any rule, yet we can remember Shakespeare’s poetic expression which described war as ‘sons of hell’ is even applicable today, as violent acts of destruction, fire and obliterating devastation engulf the entire span of living and social order, especially regions falling under world conflict zones including Pakistan.

It will not be incorrect to assert that the menace of terrorism in Pakistan has spread like a civic morbidity analogous to contagious disease such as Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) which is extremely feeble and elusively fragile to withstand environmental exposures. HCV moves through concealed routes of blood and secreted material to reach the sensitive organs like liver and brain with a view to ensuring its survival, and consolidate its position to destroy the entire building blocks of human body.

Since terrorism is illegal and unconstitutional, therefore, it tends to enlarge its size through illegitimate means, using covert tactics and clandestine undercurrents. In this regard, during the last ten years, Pakistan which has become special arena of this new style war has been facing terror-activities such as suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings,  ruthless beheadings of the innocent people, assaults on security personnel and prominent religious figures. Besides blowing children schools and attacking the female teachers in order to deny education to girls, the militants also targeted mosques, Imambargahs, mausoleums, and disgraced dead bodies. Their pitiless acts resulted into killings of several persons in Pakistan.   Besides other cities of Pakistan, especially in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Balochistan and Karachi, these terrorists have accelerated their anti-social, undemocratic and un-Islamic practices where their merciless activities continue unabated.

However, their coldblooded actions could be judged from a recent video which was uploaded by Rasool Jan who had joined the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 2008, and left the TTP after having seen the acts of barbarism by the thugs. They had decapitated their victims and played soccer with the heads chopped by the TTP Commander of Matini named Jangraiz Khan. This shows insurgents’ disrespect of human life and their lack of knowledge about Islam.

Undoubtedly, in our country, the victims of terror attacks and suicide bombings have been innocent men, women and children. Their families mourn and raise a question asking for what crime their loved ones were punished in a way—that the scattered pieces of their dead bodies were assimilated to bury. Regrettably, those entities which try to justify terrorism and suicide bombings in the name of Islam are misguiding the people, while these brutal acts are clearly against the teachings of Islam.

In this context, during a lecture in Riyadh in December 2013, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh branded suicide bombers as “criminals” who would go to “hell.” He described suicide bombers as “robbed of their minds…who have been used (as tools) to destroy themselves and societies.” In February 2010, Sheikh denounced terrorism as un-Islamic and condemned the killing of civilians, saying such attacks have nothing to do with the Muslim religion.

It is notable that anti-Pakistan foreign powers support these terrorists through ideological direction, lethal weapons, sophisticated equipments, training in militancy and financial sustenance including availability and management of space within local population—making the insurgents to sell their fractured philosophy and criminal designs. In fact, it would not be out of place to argue that the terrorists without the assistance of local sympathisers become “fish out of water” and their misguided thoughts, leading to heinous acts of violence also die a natural death.

It is mentionable that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his sermon at Hajjatul Wida issued directions for protection of life, property and dignity of the whole mankind. Quite contrarily,  these miscreants who have been carrying out ferocious attacks on innocent persons, civil and military installations including personnel of the security forces and law-enforcing agencies, also take pride in claiming the responsibility for the same.

Nevertheless, Islam considers killing one innocent person equal to murdering the entire humanity, while Jihad is a sacred obligation, but its real spirit needs to be understood clearly, as murdering innocent women and children is not Jihad. These Taliban and their banned affiliated groups are defaming Islam and are weakening Pakistan. Recent upsurge in terrorist activities in different parts of the country have brought a sad sense of remorse, psychological pain and deep feelings of distress for the entire Pakistani nation. No doubt, the terrorists have proved themselves as the ‘real sons of hell’ having no sympathy for old or young, men or women, adults or children and guilty or innocent. They simply sell the flames of hell and earn nothing, but curses of society. They are actually filthy eggs and spoiled people, suffering from juvenile delinquency, psychological disorder of dispossession and confused identity problems.   In order to resolve the menace of terrorism, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on January 29, this year announced the constitution of 4-member committee comprising impartial personalities to open negotiations with the warring Taliban. The committee has started contacts with all the militant groups, particularly TTP which has also welcomed government’s offer of peace dialogue. But at the same time, while referring to the recent terrorist attacks in Bannu, Peshawar, Hangu, assaults on anti-polio workers, media, minorities and religious scholars, prime minister also stated, “All state institutions will stand behind the government, if it decides to use force against terrorists.” He also clarified that talks and terrorism cannot go together, and asked the militants to observe a ceasefire.

Quite contrarily, TTP-led militants continued their subversive activities, particularly in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Karachi, while in Balochistan, the Taliban have connections with other insurgents’ outfits like Balachistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Jundollah (God’s soldiers), which are also involved in similar activities of terrorism. In fact, since the present government came into power, it has been wavering between fact and scepticism by following the policy of appeasement towards all the militant groups, especially TTP which has not ended its terror-activities.

Since the terrorists reject valid logic to respect the constitution and remain loyal to their own state within the state and want to impose their self-perceived ideology on the majority of Pakistanis, therefore, they should be dealt with an iron hand. Instead of appeasing these militants, the government must employ a comprehensive and an all-encompassing strategy to eliminate the threat posed by terrorism. In this respect, counter-terrorism strategy must be enacted and implemented without losing more time. And the entire society must support the rulers in their efforts to fight the menace of terrorism, while the Judiciary must punish these criminals, and the government must ensure quick execution of death penalties awarded by the courts.   Especially, our media must not provide any space to the terrorists, as some media channels are proactively making pleas that terrorists have already started targeting media for not projecting their stance. Such pleas are unjust, as media is part of the Pakistani state where terrorism is to be countered. For the purpose, our media anchors must run an anti-terrorism campaign by condemning all acts of terrorism, and show realistic approach by pointing out that it is collective war of everyone.

And Pakistan’s religious clerics and scholars must come forward to denounce subversive acts, and participate actively in countering the menace of terrorism. Different factions must hold collective conferences on faith related issues and society be organized to fight these criminal elements.

Hence, instead of pursuing contradictory policy of dialogue and military action, the government needs to act upon a timely action against these insurgents, as any delay in this context will further embolden these merciless terrorists who continue their terror-attacks.  Nonetheless, the right hour has come that Pakistan’s media, politicians and leaders of religious parties including security forces must show practical unity against these zealots who seek to create anarchy in the country to accomplish their self-motivated agenda. So, this war needs a concrete unified front of all the segments of society, which is essential to defeat the ruthless enemy of Pakistan.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

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