It would not be wrong to claim that currently Pakistan is reaping what it has sown over the last few decades. The state deliberately shared its monopoly over violence with various militant groups, which it wished to use as assets to achieve certain objectives, such as the liberation of Kashmir and strategic depth in Afghanistan aiming to restrict Indian influence. But, everything changed when these homegrown militants decided to focus inwards. The outcome is the current condition of Pakistan; widespread insurgency resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians and security personnel.

One would think that realising that it had created a Frankenstein, the state would be forced to reconsider its obviously flawed policy and do everything in its power to correct previous mistakes to preserve what is left of the country. Apparently, it is not so. Instead, it is still insistent on pursuing the same course of action which is responsible for dragging us down to this low point in the first place.

A report in this paper has revealed that certain banned outfits are organising ‘speech competitions’ on the topic of “Jihad” to attract college and university students. Posters and invitations are being openly circulated without any interference from the police or any other relevant authority. And, all this is not happening in some remote rural area where such activities may go unnoticed by law enforcement agencies, but right in the Punjab provincial capital, Lahore.  The competition is scheduled to take place on 16th February, at the prominent Punjab University.

The competition will be chaired by ‘Maulana’ Masood Azhar, a notorious militant linked with the outlawed Jaish-e-Muhammad, while ex-guerilla commander Mufti Muhammad Asghar Khan Kashmiri will be the chief guest of the ceremony. Mr Azhar recently resurfaced after a considerable period of time, when he delivered a fiery speech over the phone in a rally held in Muzaffarabad. Now, he is scheduled to appear in all his glory at Punjab University, to teach our impressionable youth the importance of Jihad.’ This points towards the harsh reality that the state, rather than reprimanding such individuals and disbanding the groups they belong to, is in fact still accommodating them in order to achieve God knows what.

Another commodity of the same brand, Malik Ishaq of the outlawed sectarian group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, has been declared most wanted and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the United States. Great, but when the country which Mr Ishaq unfortunately belongs to is still facilitating militants, even during a time when it is taking one hit after the other from the same people, one finds it extremely difficult to be overwhelmed with celebratory emotions over such news. 

The simple fact is this: if Pakistan wishes to overcome its security challenges, it must reject militancy in its entirety. No favourites. No assets. No, not even so-called freedom fighters.