A detailed survey of the political parties conducted by The Nation’s reporters offers a comprehensive landscape view of the political parties’ approach to the issue of terrorism, its roots and solutions.  Their attitudes to the problem of terror in Pakistan appear to be closely related to their stances on the Afghan insurgency. Secondly, the range of options for a solution are from a simplistic withdrawal of US troops, to a comprehensive revision of the syllabus, avoiding violence encouraging entertainment on television, deradicalisation of the madrassahs and involving the Islamic community the world over to teach the demonization of violent practices such as suicide bombing, as being unIslamic, contrary to the teachings of terrorists. Parties which supported the American involvement in the Afghan Jihad and those which opposed it, both appear to believe that the question of militancy is a by-product of the Afghan Jihad. It should not be forgotten that Pakistan joined in the jihad against the USSR when it was under military rule, just as it joined in the war on terror while under military rule in the form of Gen Pervez Musharraf, both times getting involved in Afghanistan to further the US agenda. However, lumping the two together would not be accurate. Apart from the difference in the Pakistani political debate, there is also the fact that this time around, the distinct domestic dimensions are amply visible. The presidential spokesman raised the subject of heroin, and its use to fund a guerrilla war, indicating that the militants of today are also using it to fund their fight. The other main party, which has had to deal with the issue in one province, and which may well have the handling of the issue in future, being the government in waiting, is the PML-N. Its spokesman, Senator Pervez Rashid, other than pointing out that the roots of the problems lay in the first Afghan War and the militarization of the Mujahideen, said there was also a need to find out exactly who was involved in the new Great Game, which was spreading unrest in Pakistan.

While one solution proposed was for all parties to sit down and solve the issue, none seemed to accord it much priority, preferring to leave the issue where it is, and concentrate on fighting the next election, due in less than a year. While the whole country is in the grip of militancy, there have been severe outbreaks in the shape of target killings in Karachi and both target killings and disappearances in Balochistan. The political parties are perhaps deliberately not noting that Pakistan’s failure to beef up its security to the degree it needs to be upgraded is fuelling this problem.

The parties surveyed are all aspirants to power, but the calls for the international community to come forward, also reflects the inability to find a solution themselves. Domestic terror may have roots abroad, and most likely in our Eastern and Western neighbours, but our political parties have to find homegrown solutions. They have to provide the kind of governance that would prevent militant groups from finding such ready recruits as they do.