Resurfacing of terrorism and extremism in Pakistan is a challenge before the political leadership to rethink and reevaluate the situation to pinpoint responsibility and to see what could have seen done to ensure security and safety of citizens. The challenge is to identify the fault lines and failures to act that resulted in tremendous loss of life and damage to the image of the country, a reflection on the state of governance and capacity and capability of civil administration to manage public affairs. A terrorist attack in Lahore and at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander in Sehwan has left more than 100 people dead. Organizations determined to kill our innocent people narrative of our state authorities about terrorism and extremism remains confused the terrorists will continue to hit us hard. There is hardly any scope of conspiracy theories to explain what is happening around.

Pakistan has to put its own house in order, and must do so, by recognising how religious intolerance and bigotry, permitted far too long in the name of expediency and national security, must be confronted if the menace of terrorism is to be defeated. This war has to be fought with concerted effort to undo the pernicious effects of mistaken state policies and an environment or culture in which extremism thrives. This is not an easy task to undertake. Government authorities must act against all those organizations having anti- Pakistan agenda. A counter – culture has to be created enabling people access to basic needs of civilized life, including jobs, health, housing and avenues of respectable living Politicians must learn to serve the people and their causes and not to be deterred by terrorist organizations.

Equity and justice is what we need. We should not create conditions that would strengthen those who negate the Pakistani identity for their vested interests. Those who get all benefits have to accept the Pakistani identity whole-heartedly.

We need to be more determined and resolute to defeat the enemy. There is a long way to achieve absolute peace much needed for development and a way forward. Better late than never, the Punjab Government has rightly decided to seek Rangers’ help to combat terror, indiscriminate action against terrorists, extremism and sectarian violence. Right of the citizen is to elect representatives to governmental institutions. It is the representatives’ responsibility to run the system of government efficiently to protect and secure the rights of the electorate and to work for national interest. Do our political leaders discharge their obligations in the best national interests of Pakistan? People do not like to live in a world of fantasy. They don’t simply need lip service but action and outcome. Pragmatic approach should make things happen. Rule of law and accountability, for instance, to become the norms of the society, not simply fancy words.

It is painful what goes on in the name of religion, history with distorted facts and terror to which Muslims were subjected through deceitful conspiracies and misinformation based on particularistic interpretations of commandments of God in the Quran.

Hegemonic approach and deceit has to be rebuked. Bigotry leading to terrorism does not represent Islam or Muslims, anywhere. In the garb of a Muslim, a fanatic is hiding in deceitful thoughts. His soul is sick, his mind is diseased and infirm. Stop your evil cunningness misrepresenting the peaceful religion of Islam.

Not much attention has been paid in Pakistan to the required and desired role of political parties. This is one of the default lines. Role of political parties is to provide political stability and legitimacy. An enabling culture has to be provided. Writer and professor of political science at Yale University, Steven I. Wilkinson argues that India took a number of steps after partition in 1947 to correct the civil military imbalance.

It greatly helped that the Indian Congress was a broad based political party and better institutionalised than the Muslim League, which, in the first decade after partition was unable to provide political stability and legitimacy.

The Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, in recent articulation of his vision, stated that the army had no business trying to run the government and that the army must remain within its constitutionally defined role. Gen. Bajwa’s stress was on coordination, not competition with civilians. He has expressed satisfaction on operational gains, development works and measures for better border security management in South Waziristan, along the border with Afghanistan. It must be clear that the strength of political system and legitimacy stems from the acts and conduct of politicians and political parties, only they can ensure steps towards a stable, democratic society and economy.

Counter terrorism operations, as effective as “Zarb-e-Azb”, have to continue with the support of the Army if the objective is to completely get rid of terrorism, extremism and corruption. Cooperation for peace is essential for development. Terror tests spirit of our people and cities. Pakistan had been enjoying a period of relative calm with a drop in terrorist attacks as well as optimistic outlook for economic and social development. It was the turn of the worst on Feb. 13, 2001 when a bomb blast ripped right through the heart of Lahore and hours later there was a blast in Quetta as well. The Lahore blast killed ten people inuring 53. Thousands of Pakistani police officers and national heroes have been the target of terrorist attacks in addition to innocent peaceful citizens. According to Foreign Office spokesperson, terrorist groups attacking Pakistan have found safe havens in Afghanistan. Pakistan, the spokesperson said, has consistently called for negotiated peace settlement in Afghanistan, which remains the responsibility of all parties to the conflict. Any discussion on the future of Afghanistan and the way forward in Pakistan US relationship should take into account Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror.

Pakistan has taken note of the voices recommending a holistic review of the US policy to see how Pakistan and the United States could work together to promote peace and security in the region for the benefit of both countries and the region. However, assertions about terrorist safe havens were misplaced and disappointing. Pakistan is keen to see improved Pak-US relationship and also less of tensions in Pak-India ties.

Afghanistan must cooperate with Pakistan to jointly defeat terror and to ensure peace. Pakistan expects help from Afghan intelligence, leadership and other institutions to work for regional peace and development. Pakistan was committed to sit down and work together to find permanent solution for Afghan peace and cross border terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhton khuwa (KPK). The United States could use its influence to prevent use of Afghan soil to perpetrate terrorism in Pakistan.

Ground reality is visible to all. Need for peace is common, so are the sufferings and pains without any gains. Let us face it. Let us resolve to reduce tensions and create a culture of desired cooperation and understanding.

Let us face it, we need character building. Cooperation is essential for resolving conflicts.