WEB DESK: Terrorism walked bare-faced in Pakistan this past Sunday. There was a suicide-bombing attack in a public park in Lahore which killed over 72 and injured more than 300.
‘We have entered Lahore,’ asserted the Taliban faction, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, that once declared ties with the Islamic State. Those who thought the war against extremists and terrorists has been won may like to think again. Given their venture was aimed at coercing public support by terrorising it, they seemingly earned a huge victory last Sunday.
They have proved that they are there. While the state is fighting them on the physical plane they respond by using tools of psychological warfare. In one go, the so-called invincibility claim of the Punjab government stands demolished and it looks the war has just begun. The citizenry’s confidence in the official capacity to defeat forces of extremism is shattered. In Lahore, those who thought the terrorists would spare an attractive target as the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park on Sunday must be having their heads buried in sand. The day was not only weekly day-off but also the Easter Sunday. As the bracing spring air permeated the park beckoning all to come and enjoy, out of some two score guards the park management was expected to have some on duty but there was none at the Gate 1, close to which are the swings and other recreational facilities of great attraction to children. And these children had their mothers and other family members with them.
According to what little is known about the suicide-bomber by now, he entered the park carrying the explosives with him and nobody bothered to check him. What else is called security lapse if not this. The explosion was high in intensity and its victims were mostly children and women. That the forensic team arrived in no time and identification card of the bomber was found. All this makes little sense because such follow-up procedures haven’t helped so far in curbing the recurring waves of terrorism in the country. As the government-provided security failed the people did not. They rushed to the park, took the wounded children in their arms and rushed them to hospitals where doctors and nurses made all possible efforts to save their lives. Moreover, volunteers had formed long queues at hospitals to donate blood.
Confronted face to face, the armed forces have always given the terrorists a befitting response and defeated them. The toughest was the tribal region where not only the terrain was rough and inhospitable but it was also home to terrorists who were immensely familiar with the lay of the land. However, our soldiers destroyed them. But fighting terrorism is a battle of minds and hearts; and it’s not only about territory. It is an ideological war and the adversary has got to be defeated on that front – a battle that is still far from being won. Most certainly, by now, an ardent and earnest follow-up to the National Action Plan that largely falls in the court of the civilian authorities would have succeeded in eradicating the menace of terrorism.
The areas where we grossly failed are intelligence gathering, prosecution of the charged culprits and law-enforcing agencies’ competence to control the boisterous mobs. Much is already on record how shallow is our intelligence gathering and how flawed is our prosecution. Therefore, claims by authorities of all hues that terrorism and extremism have been checked and reduced have few takers. The war against terrorism is by no means over.
Source: Business Recorder