Pakistan has been fighting terrorism for the last 10 years without much success. The basic reason for failure in achieving peace is the absence of a comprehensive counter terrorism strategy which in itself is the result of lack of conceptual clarity, vision, sincerity of purpose, resolve on the part of our leadership. Currently peace, through negotiations or military operations, is very earnestly being debated. But on some fronts it seems somewhat superficial as few comprehend the issue of ‘terrorism and extremism’ in its entirety. This has created an impression that terrorism and extremism will end either by successful talks or by a grand military operation.

The Taliban are not the only factor responsible for the present state of affairs in the country, though their terrorist activities have exceeded the tolerance threshold and definitely requires immediate action. However, the exclusive and exploitative Socio-Economic, Religious-Sectarian, foreign and internal policies and corruption of the rulers since 1947 are the real causes of the discontentment, frustration, loss of hope and confidence in the country. This situation created the ideal conditions for the emergence of TPP and other terrorist groups and acceptance of their ideology and narrative by a considerable percentage of our population. These conditions have been successfully exploited by the hostile agencies and foreign powers for the realization of their vested interests turning Pakistan into a battle ground of many proxy wars.

For any long term and permanent solution, terrorist acts by TPP and other terrorist groups and prevailing law and order situation should be viewed within the overall context of country’s socio-economic conditions, failure of state institutions, absence of governance and foreign policy issues. Our counter-terrorism strategy is not addressing the root causes of terrorism and extremism, at best there may be some terror management strategy which may stabilize the situation temporarily.

This is what we have been doing since 2003-2004 fruitlessly. Counter terrorism strategy, therefore, should have long term, medium and short term and immediate strategic objectives, media strategy, relevant foreign policy objectives and a credible counter narrative. Our long term policy objectives should aim at inclusive and distributive socio-economic policies, madressah reforms, restructuring of state institutions, population control and management, elimination of political interference, speedy and free justice, electoral and judicial reforms and control of mafias and cartels etc.

Our ‘National Security Policy’ must address the root causes of terrorism and extremism in the society in its entirety. This will require national consensus, political and national will and above all the leadership beyond personal economic and political interests with vision, capability and determination.

MIAN MUHAMMAD SIDDIQUE,

Lahore, February 26.