Time to take the war on terror to where it belongs

26 Jan

 

BY SOHAIL PARWAZ

The attack on Bacha Khan University was exactly like the way APS Peshawar was attacked in December 2014. Nevertheless, the similarities are too many, like the time as both the institutions were attacked in the early morning; both the sacred institutions are situated in the KPK province of Pakistan; a large number of innocent students were killed in both the gory carnages; the terrorists selected the foggy months of winter in both the attacks; for both the events the Indian intelligence agency RAW was sturdily doubted right away; however, the attackers in both the cases had last minute contact with their handlers in Afghanistan. With such amazing resemblance in both the events and with innumerable parallels, the objective of our enemy has surfaced as quite obvious and alarming: ruin the future and take the nation back into Stone Age.

On Wednesday, January 20, 2016, a group of unidentified gunmen entered Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda town and opened fire on students and faculty members as they gathered at the University for a poetry recital (mushahira) to commemorate the death anniversary of a progressive activist Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan aka Bacha Khan whom the university is named after. Currently about 3,000 students are enrolled in this institution. The armed assailants scaled university walls and in first go targeted the boys’ hostel where they opened fire on the students who were resting in their rooms. The bullets showers took 21 lives while more than 60 people were severely injured.

The reports from different quarters and agencies confirmed that the terrorists were eight to 10 in number who penetrated the university, aging between 18 and 25 years old, wearing civilian clothes and had their faces covered. The four attackers were wearing suicide vests but were neutralised by security forces’ snipers before they could detonate their explosives. There were reports about three of them that they were holing up in a single storey house in the neighbourhood from where they were commanding this bloody showdown. Out of the lot, four were confirmed as killed while the fate of the others remained unconfirmed.

Before it is analysed who was behind this attack and what was the purpose, it’s interesting and worth mentioning here that on one hand, the mastermind of the APS Peshawar attack, Umar Mansoor, of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ‘Geedard (Jackal) Group’ has claimed the attack through a post on his Facebook page; however, a spokesperson from the TTP, Mohammad Khorasani, issued a disagreeing statement shortly after Mansoor’s claim, in which Khorasani condemned the attack, terming it against “Shariah”.

Khorasani also warned that those using the name of TTP will be brought to justice.

Unfortunately, if a question “Will Pakistan see more such attacks on the educational institutions?” is asked, the answer to it will be yes since the terrorists have two advantages: firstly, they go for the soft targets; and secondly, they do more damage as the future of the nation is shattered and ruined. The terrorist attacks on didactic institutions around the world have otherwise risen to frightening levels, higher than any point in more than 40 years. It’s a global trend that is increasing at a rapid rate. Looking exclusively at Pakistan, the rate at which attacks increased in the run-up to the Army Public School bloodbath was disturbing. Hence, with a heavy heart one has to admit the happening of any such attack in future. Most of the attacks prior to APS were not that deadly, both the frequency and the damage they caused were on an unparalleled level. Pakistan, as a country, has the highest number of attacks i.e., 850 on places of learning and also the highest number of people killed i.e., 450 in school attacks. Russia follows behind with 361 killed.

What has happened so far in the country and is likely to (God forbid) happen in the coming days or month has to be seen in the light of the Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parriker’s recent naked threat given to Pakistan in a public function, soon after the attack on Pathankot where he said while mincing his words that, “Our enemy will only realise the pain when he will be hit where it hurts him. We will revert to any mean to harm our enemy, even if it is terrorism even.” It’s a well known fact that our enemy never hesitates in going to any extent to harm Pakistan and history vouches for it. Few months ago Indian premier Modi visited Bangladesh where he openly confessed about India’s role in separating East Pakistan and he was presented the picture about the signing of instrument of surrender.

Although our Foreign Office said that ‘It is premature to draw any conclusion as to who may be behind the Charsada University attack before investigations are complete’, Pakistan army’s chief spokesperson said that ‘The attackers were in touch with a number from Afghanistan and the SIMs used in the phones were of Afghan origin’. Interestingly, a mobile phone recovered from one of the attackers was receiving calls even after he had been killed.

There are two vital issues: first, why is the government reluctant to implement the National Action Plan (NAP)? After all, the Plan was designed and drafted soon after the APS massacre as a result of marathon sessions of epic committee. It looks as if the government, judiciary and the army is not on the same page. The LEAs apprehend the culprits after a great effort while the courts let them off them after a couple of hearings. On the other hand, the fate of the proposed military courts is not very clear. The army is more than willing to set up the courts and has extended a sincere cooperating hand; however, on the government side, some unknown fear is preventing the ruling elite from implementing the decision. This attitude has not only encouraged our enemies but the wave of violence and terrorism has also reverted which is certainly not a good sign.

The other and most worrying issue is related to the Prime Minister’s behaviour vis-à-vis his Indian counterpart. The attitude of a government head towards a specific leader or head of the state, usually, is commensurate to the relations between the two states. The very cool and cordial relation between the heads of the governments of two daggers drawn states is unprecedented. Now here in case of Pakistan and India, it has happened many a time that despite Modi’s hostile and aggressive statements, Mian Nawaz Sharif always displayed warmth and friendly behaviour which is certainly mind gobbling.

Few months ago Mian Nawaz Sharif visited India. The entourage was inclined towards the family more than the officials. Even in India the meetings were more of personal nature and corporate oriented. The sensitive issues like Kashmir and Baglihar Dam were relegated and meetings with the Indian ‘Iron Man’ Jandal were given preference. The exchange of gifts and hosting of luncheons and dinners projected it as a meeting of two brothers who were lost in “Kumbh Mela”. It was later confirmed when out of nowhere Modi landed at Lahore airport and was escorted straight to Jati Umrah as a personal guest of Mian Sahib where he attended a marriage and flew back to Delhi after a few hours stay in Pakistan. All the analysts, diplomats, politicians and media were absolutely surprised. It was beyond anyone’s comprehension that when the Indian ruling elite was blaming and bashing Pakistan, when Pakistan and its armed forces and ISI was bashed for even an insignificant happening in India, then what makes Mian Nawaz Sharif to behave like Mother Teresa?

Honestly speaking, the series of terrorist activities inside and anywhere in Pakistan compels a common Pakistani to ask the prime minister as to whether he is on our side or on enemy’s. Will he give preference to the country’s or his own family’s business interests? It’s not solely the army’s obligation to fight against terrorism and at the end of the day earn bad name and criticism. The officers and soldiers of the army have laid more lives in this war on terror than the total number of the martyrs of three wars against India. Certainly, the sacrifices don’t deserve this sort of reward.

The fact is that time is rapidly running out and so are the affairs getting out of control. The desperate enemy has nothing to lose. What else one can expect from a person who puts his life at stake? The only answer is, throw our personal interests on the backseat and the State’s business be given the first choice. It’s time to implement the NAP in letter and spirit. Every Pakistani has a valid right to ask the prime minister what is more important to him: Pakistan or something else? The nation can’t afford losing more innocent lives and the future of beloved motherland. They expect the rulers to take the war to the terrorists, out of Pakistan. It’s high time for the decision makers to decide before it is too late.

 

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