LAHORE - A discourse on challenges confronting the national security in the aftermath of Karachi airport attack was conducted by Pakistan National Forum at a local hotel in Lahore on Saturday. The forum was attended by ex-servicemen, retired judges of the apex judiciary and politicians.
One of the key speakers, General (retd) Tauqeer Zia, who has also served as chairman PCB said that the Karachi airport attack should not be seen in isolation. There were a lot of factors that should be analyzed while assessing the incident such as the element of religious fanaticism, economic deprivation, pervasive lack of justice and last but not the least the fact that the top political government was suffering from confusion. He said that the armed forces only had to act on the orders of the civilian government but its confusion was making matters worse and a reason why terrorism was still prevailing in the country.
He regretted the fact that the situation had worsened to such an extent that a political party that was previously running torture cells in Karachi was now egging the army on to step in.
The recovery of Indian weapons and equipment from the terrorists did not mean that the attack was carried out by India, but rather the need was to own up to it, he asserted.
He also said that one of main breeding grounds of terrorism was South Punjab which he said would greatly damage the security of the country in the days to come unless it is tackled with a stern hand.
Instead of confusing the army, the government should take a firm stand on the issue of terrorism and come with a political will to fight it tooth and nail, he said.
Another speaker, General (retd) Saeeduddin Qazi, who had been former GOC Hyderabad said that whatever has happened in Karachi is because of what he called “our own fault”. He said that since there was virtually no security at the airport, it was an invitation to the terrorists to attack.
The Taliban have no religion while their call for implementation of Shariah is a sham, he said. The Taliban can be compared to mercenaries who take money to kill and spread violence and mayhem, he said. He also said that the government did not have the political will to combat terrorism.
Former Speaker National Assembly Syed Fakhar Imam said that on the issue of terrorism we as a nation are victims of confusion. Saying that while there are two narratives, one of the Taliban which is based on violence and intolerance, the other narrative of people of Pakistan which is based on the constitution of 1973, he regretted the fact that it was still unclear which narrative the people wanted to adopt as parcel and parcel of their lives.
He said that in order to control militancy, it was the need of the hour that the civil and political government were on the same page.
He also said that many parts of Punjab especially the south were brimming with sleeper cells and that very soon they would hold the country hostage unless an immediate action was taken.
Former Chief Minister Punjab Mian Afzal Hayat said that the menace of terrorism has now turned into a cancer afflicting the entire nation. Given the extent of cancer an immediate operation is needed, he emphasized. At the moment, Karachi, Fata and Balochistan are in flames, while South Punjab has turned into a nursery of extremism. He said that a greater effort is now required to weed out militant networks operating in South Punjab. But whatever the state needs to do, it should do now because times is running out, he said. Lamenting the role played by police in protecting the country against the threat of terrorism, he called for the need to overhaul the department and organize it along modern lines.
Former Chief Justice of Federal Shariat Court, Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmad said that the country including its leadership simply did not know what to do in this hour of crisis. Terrorism he said is the result of what he called ‘administrative failure’ on the part of successive governments. The political parties are incapable of taking firm decisions, a reason why the affliction of militancy has assumed such horrific dimensions, he said.