There is hardly any doubt that the cure to the malady of extremism lies in spreading values of tolerance, harmony and peace within the society as urged by President Zardari in his Eid-day message. But words and statements will not do especially if the scourge is promoted for decades and sometimes by those who are supposed to root it out.

As we draw satisfaction that the Eid was spared the bloodletting in part due to timely measures taken by the interior ministry one of which was to block the cell phone service, we must not ignore scores of other incidents of violence that generally one associates with a militant mindset. The plague is widespread to the point where there is hardly any section of society that is not afflicted with it. The general tendency is to disregard law, kill out of spite and anger however petty the reason. Consider some of incidents occurring right on Eid day. Family brawls in Nowshera led to the killing of 18 people, including women and children. In Okara, a barber’s eyes were gouged out; as if this was not enough to satiate the insanity, his lips and tongue were also chopped off in an unstinting act of absolute barbarism. Eight people were reported to have killed in Lahore, including a man sprayed with bullets while heading towards the mosque for Eid prayer. Other events include torture on a TV actress for refusing to act in a drama. Sadly the citizens’ guardian, the police force has itself come to symbolise a tool of repression, something that reflects that institutions and the state too have a role in the militarization of society. The fact that such tendencies do not go away even on occasions when the people are supposed to forget enmities bears testimony that a large part of the public has come to embrace violence as a way of life. Whatever the sphere of life, one can feel that it is governed by lawlessness.  Hard as it may seem, we as a society will have to accept that it is not only the terrorists who have taken to bloodshed but we the ordinary so-called law-abiding citizens, are also suffering from this all-pervasive scourge called militant mindset in an equal manner, albeit differing only in scale.

Among the correctional measures, foremost is education. The right kind is central to creating noble values that can practically reshape the conduct of people. It has to be ensured at every level particularly in far flung areas, where the people proudly subscribe to retrograde thinking and anachronistic traditions. Rule of law too has to be made an integral part of our culture so that before anyone resorts to atrocious acts, they have the fear of punishment deterring them.