There is a difference between how a strong and confident state tackles its rebels and how a weak country like Pakistan, lacking any resolve and remaining in a confused state, succumbs to just one threatening letter and stops hanging convicts and ruthless murderers who will someday again be out of jail and resume killing innocent people. We are placing the fate of our country at stake with such weak leadership all around.

Look at Iran, in Tehran a few days back they executed 16 ‘rebels’ in reprisal after gunmen killed at least 14 border guards, near the border. IRNA the official news agency said fourteen border guards were killed during armed clashes and five others were wounded in retaliation. The Iranian authorities hanged 16 rebels held at a Zahidan prison. Iran has spent millions of dollars to build a ‘wall’ along lengthy stretches of its 1,700km border with Afghanistan and Pakistan in a bid to stop the human trafficking.

Work on the barrier began in the 1990s and is expected to complete before the end of next year. Jundallah, a militant group, launched attacks on civilians and officials in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province, including a December 2010 suicide bombing in the city of Shabahar that killed 39 people. The President also asked the FM to take necessary measures in line with the implementation of Iran’s security agreements with Pakistan and inform him of the results immediately.

The question is not whether Iran is doing the right thing or the wrong thing, the question is what are we doing in Pakistan? We acquit hardcore prisoners, set them free to repeat their criminal acts, we allow jail breaks. Our PM says our judges are afraid of convicting terrorists, our leaders are afraid of publicly condemning the Taliban for fear of reprisals we do not sanction hanging of prisoners convicted for heinous crimes, so where will we end?

We talk of negotiating with terrorists, call them stakeholders. On the other hand we put to trial Gen Musharraf for Lal Masjid, allow the Lal Masjid criminals to lodge an FIR and forget about the 12 army personnel, including a Colonel, murdered by the terrorists there. One has no doubt in government’s intention in talks with the terrorists; if they genuinely want peace but at least they should be clear. Have they decided that the terrorists are our enemies or friends? Are we with USA or the Taliban? What if the peace talks fail, do we have a strategy, and quick plan like the one Iran implemented?

F Z KHAN,

Islamabad, October 31.