National terror fault lines


Muhammad Junaid Awan

TIME and again the ugly tentacles of terrorism rear to remind us that the danger is far from over. A recent attack on PSX and wave of ambuscades in outskirts on security forces foretells the potency of hostile actors. We do celebrate our successes and sacrifices, bravados are applauded, heroes are exalted and departed souls are posthumously decorated. But amid this brouhaha, immediate victims, ruthlessly, consign to the dustbin of history. Knee-jerk aggressive steps are taken, lower-tier foot soldiers of terror are hanged but what remains missing in the dots of alienated coherent policy is to identify the elephant in the room – a realistic counter-narrative after identification of terror fault lines. Pakistan’s chequered past has had shady intrigues of games of thrones. One day, we wake up and are told socialism is the only panacea of all ills but the other day it becomes anathema. State-sponsored Jihad camps had been established countrywide to recruit religiously charged aspirants after being declared the repository of terror. This is how our harebrained policies fickle at the drop of hat. Right after independence, the dream of a truly egalitarian society, as envisaged by founding father in his 11 August speech, seemed to turn into a pipe dream. Power brokers rushed to sway the constitutional process. This struggle of power rendered us irreparable costs i.e. East Pakistan’s separation, banana republic at hand, low socio-economic development, and paranoid behaviours are some of the ramifications to name a few. Opportunistic politicians and corrupt bureaucrats colluded with men in uniform and men on the pulpit to hit the last nail on the national coffin.
These twisted policies gifted us two major facades of terrorism; (a) The religious front and (b) the sub-nationalist front. Foreign hostile rackets find fault lines among these two and exploit to give us a bloody nose. The call of defusing both landmines is deafening. The religious terror is directly rooted in our broken educational system. A sizeable portion of school-going children is being nurtured in seminaries. This is an age-old tradition rooted back pre-partition times. Shirtless to the middle class would consider the seminaries, mostly run on a philanthropic basis, a cost-effective source of grooming their wards. The effectiveness of seminary education withered away by time owing to not shunning out the stereotypical pedagogy and embracing the change. But still, those seminaries were benign although not at par. What went wrong was Zia’s intrusion of radical ideas directly into the curriculum. Quranic verses were misinterpreted, taken out of context and used purely for fulfilling the vested interests. A disoriented army of semi-literate youngsters was ready to wreak havoc right after a decade of this myopic policy and is still haunting us. The inculcated ideas were trickled down to the next generations and the cycle goes on. Little wonder when the current government finds it difficult to make people understand about a virus. Corona se darna nahin, larna hai (We have to fight Corona rather than being afraid) is branded a sacrilegious slogan.
It is evident that without overhauling the madrassah education system, we cannot nip the evil in the bud. Sans analytical reasoning and logical thinking these students are a perfect choice for hawks on the other side of the aisle to brainwash and turn them against the regime. Taliban, name derived from Talib (Student), is an example at hand. How a faction grew into a threat to international peace. It is a prime time, as education is being streamlined, committees are working on a single national curriculum. So we need to include the religious teaching too into the fold. Major stakeholders like Wafaq-ul-Madaris and others should be taken on board. Radical, misplaced and populist notions in the curriculum are a ticking bomb that could be exploded anytime sooner. Tinkering educational system will rectify a structural flaw.
Besides, to bleed it white, sources of funding need to be cut off. Eid-ul-Azha is a heyday for making fortunes. LEAs need to devise a plan to dry the funding springs. Fortunes can tilt the balance of power. While without money mercenaries run away and religious terror group dies on its own. The second front is multilayered and intricate. People take up arms when they are deprived of their rights or incited on one pretext or another. BLA, SLA, JSQM, MQM (L), inter alia are not just ethnic groups posing a threat to national integrity. These are also the by-products of injustice and bad governance at large. Small scale inequalities, when meted out, snowball into vengeance. Desperate youth is, more than often, the fodder of terror cannon. Nevertheless, the best way to prevent is to mitigate the grievances as soon as it gets spotted. PTI’s performance on this front is not envious. Of late BNP (Mengal) has left the coalition government as they see no reprieve for marginalized Balochs. PPP, representing Sindh, cries foul of the fiscal inequalities meted out to the province. PTM’s activism has not subsided in KP’s tribal region. GB’s denizens are worried about their constitutional status. Even always amenable people of Punjab are voicing against hybrid governance. The whole country is in a quagmire and these ruptures are no way a good omen. It is time CT-NAP be implemented with true spirit, inequalities removed, small provinces facilitated, and marginalized heard. Lest we keep saluting and digging the graves of collateral damages ad infinitum.
—The writer is a security analyst.

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