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Operation Zarb-e-Azb

This is in response to a news item published in ‘The Express Tribune’ dated 20 May 2015 with regards to war on terror: “US special envoy Daniel Feldman hails Pakistan’s sacrifices and conveys his appreciation to Army Chief”.

Beyond any doubt, Pakistan’s army has launched much awaited military offensive against terrorists without discrimination of Good or Bad. Effects of operation Zarb-e-Azb are quite prominently visible on ground. But it’s such a dicey phenomenon, that if gains of this military action are not consolidated by the political government by initiating parallel and complementing agenda, soon we are destined to waste the sacrifices by our brave soldiers. War on terror cannot be won, unless Pakistan displays political will to consolidate the gains made until now. One such important step in consolidation of front-line gains appeared in press few months back (in the aftermath of terrorists attack on APS in Peshawar) in the shape of “National Action Plan”. But the progress made on the so called ‘National Action Plan’ thus far remained short of achieving objectives it had set forth. Some of the important points that are needed to be paid heed are: 1) Putting in place, a counter ideology, especially in tribal/ backward areas warrants immediate attention. Unless we introduce an attractive alternate people would continue to subscribe to terrorists' ideology. 2) Change of syllabus in Government funded schools has become necessity of time. Books containing material that manifest rigidity towards religion and relations with countries, we have been historically viewing as foes, be reviewed and replaced with more balanced and harmonious content. Books of comparative study of major religions be made part of syllabus at schools and madariss equally. 3) Due deliberation is required on curriculum of madariss by pointing out objectionable content in their syllabi and replacing it with moderate teachings fulfilling national objectives of modern education as well as society. Religious education be taken as an individual responsibility that should start from home and finish at mosque, church or temple. Except for compulsory items, no religious gatherings be allowed by the followers of any religion or sect. 4) Registration of madariss & mosques followed by monitoring of activities therein is the need of the hour. This is high time that un-regularized funds to mosques and madariss be stopped and no funding whatsoever be allowed without government’s visibility into the transactions and its utilization. 5) Ban, if not possible, keep a strict check on media channels operating for promoting specific Islamic faction/ sects in the name of religion. This is increasing sectarian strife and more religious polarization in the society. Groups, already running media houses to air sectarian free Islamic content and government should stop giving licenses for operating religious media channels. 6) Either ‘Islamic Ideology Council’ should be disbanned as it was only created for a short time purpose and after that has been completed there is no requirement that should become burden on national exchequer or it should be taken in proper government fold. This institution be used to promote religious cum sectarian harmony and representation of all religions being practiced in Pakistan be ensured in it. It is felt that Islamic Ideology Council has become a holy cow and never been tasked for bringing sober understanding of the religion. 7) Government to fund, initiate & encourage more discussions on TV, Radio and Print Media besides encouraging workshops, seminars, debates and discussions on religious harmony to bridge gap between increasing sectarianism. 8) Identify the nurseries & breading grounds of human resource to terrorist organizations and effectively plug in own counter strategy by increasing long term projects of education, health and provision of basic amenities of life, so that poor are not forced to send their children to madariss or let them fall prey to the terrorist’s ideology. Unless, we provide suitable alternatives to the deprived and poor, this vicious cycle cannot stop. 9) Increase minimum daily wages, and try to create opportunities for more and more jobs in government and private sectors by initiating people friendly economic policies. Small and medium industry be encouraged, loans be provided, vocational technical training be provided free of cost. 10) Eradication of corruption and provision of timely justice across the board to all and sundry so that people of tribal or backward areas stop looking towards jirgas/ punchaits or any other private local decision making bodies. Fill the gap of legislation, if required in any area, to bar terrorists and/or centrifugal forces getting benefit from these loop holes. Apprehend & bring culprits to justice as soon as possible. We should revisit our judicial system, and if required, must revamp so that it can cope up with the required pace.

These are just some desired areas to start with, and if timely steps are not taken in these areas, fruits of the successes of fight against terror on the front lines wouldn't be reaped. Consolidation of gains is much needed than any time in our history.

By: Saeed Muhammad

Published in May, 2015

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