Saturday, September 26, 2015

Badaber and What Next!

September 20, 2015
Saeed Qureshi
In 18th September’s assault on the Badaber Air Force Camp in Peshawar by a heavily armed group of 13 attackers, 29 human beings lost their lives. One shudders to imagine that if the terrorists had succeeded in penetrating to the actual camp what could have been the scale of destruction with assets blown up. A big question mark could have sullied the competence of the country as well as the Intelligence wing of Air force in safeguarding such a sensitive location.

On December 16, 2014, in a similar barbaric attack at Peshawar Army Public School, these later day beastly crusaders and fiendish Islamic revivalists killed 147 people, including 122 innocent schoolchildren. One may infer that these may not be the last acts of bloodletting and atrocious terrorism being carried out by these enemies of Pakistan and mankind.

Let us first of all, start by admitting that Taliban and other splinter Islamic militant factions are like Frankenstein trying to devour its own creator Pakistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan created Taliban and Al-Qaida at the behest of foreign powers to defeat the former communist regime called Soviet Union (USSR) which did happen. 

The Soviet Union despite a huge military presence and warfare paraphernalia in Afghanistan had to abandon that country lock stock and barrel. The Present government in Russian is called Russian Federation.

The Soviet Union vacated Afghanistan in Feb 1989. The Taliban who took the credit of ousting the former Soviet Union from Afghanistan emerged as the sole dominant force in Afghanistan. They established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 1996 and ruled until October 2001 with an iron hand and under the umbrella of hair-raising Islamic justice system turning Afghanistan into a hell.

Close on the heels of 9/11 incident and attack on the world Trade Center,  the United States and allied forces through “Operation Enduring Freedom” ended their oppressive rule. The bulk of the Taliban and Al-Qaida operatives fled to Pakistan or retreated to the rural or remote mountainous regions of Afghanistan. Mullah Umar and Al-Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden were among them and had head reward.

With the defeat of the Soviet Union the western powers left the arena without caring what hell is going to break on their partners and cohorts in this region. Since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, Pakistan and Afghanistan are exposed to and facing the forays of the Islamic militants fomenting unparalleled chaos and instability in this already war-torn and fragile region. Such a nemesis happens to such countries that act as mercenaries or are protégé of the foreign external powers by over-riding their own national interests.

 The question staring in the face has been how to prevent Taliban and other Islamic fighters from expanding their tentacles and the establishment of an Islamic empire in the region including Pakistan. That has been the main sticking point that bedevils the erstwhile patrons of these militant factions to this day.

The above connotation was beside the point. The moot question and rather a gubernatorial challenge is how to deal with the perpetual nightmare of Islamic militancy against a vulnerable country like Pakistan.  
The Islamic warriors or Mujahideen who fought the Soviet Union from 1979-89 in Afghanistan were trained in Pakistan and China and paid by the United States and Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf. Among these were the Arab Islamists joined by the local cadres of indoctrinated Islamists eager to wage the religious crusade against the atheist Soviets.

One of such Arab group was the Al-Qaida. The local Islamic crusaders mostly comprised the children of the three million Afghan refugees staying in Pakistan. They were educated in Hizb-e-Islami Deobandi doctrines in religious residential schools (madrasas) (also financed by the the US and Gulf monarchies).)”When they came of age, they formed "the mainstay" of the Taliban in Afghanistan and of the anti-Shia Sipah-e-Sahaba Sunni terror group in Pakistan”.

These Taliban and Islamic revivalists took Pakistan as the best substitute of Afghanistan for turning it into an Islamic state. For the last 15 years the Taliban of all brands including the extremist Sunni groups, in collusion with the local cohorts from the mosques and madrasas, have been on the rampage of terrorism against the people of Pakistan, the state and the rival sects. 

They established that Islamic state in Swat and Mardan for some time till the Pakistan army dislodged them from there. They wanted to take over the capital of Pakistan and annihilate their sectarian opponents all over the country.

The well Entrenched Taliban faction in Waziristan( both south and north) have posed to be constant threat to the writ of the state of Pakistan by unremitting sequence of bomb blasts and forays on such huge installations as Wah Ordnance Factory and Kamra Aeronautical Complex, Naval base and airports.

For over a decade or so Pakistan’s paramount challenge has been to curb and overcome the escalating terrorism mostly spawned and carried out by the renegade factions of Taliban operating from Waziristan, Afghanistan, FATA and in Pakistan through their collaborators. 

The security forces and Pakistan army has been effectively thwarting the terrorists and giving befitting response to them as witnessed by the brilliant achievements scored under the command of General Raheel Sharif in cleansing FATA and Waziristan from the Taliban and other terrorists’ outfits.

The army is also engaged in that epic war with the indigenous terrorists particularly in Karachi. Yet a comprehensive and definitive strategy is called for to rid Pakistan and its people of the rampant terrorism, lawlessness, violence and ubiquitous crime. I would venture to suggest the following measures in that regard.
-All cases of terrorism should be dealt by the military courts for prompt decisions. The civil courts can be manipulated by threat and bribes as has been witnessed in many cases.
-Rapid Response System should be reinforced and upgraded in all sensitive civil and military locations like Kahuta and Army, air force and naval headquarters.
-An impregnable fence or barrier should be erected on the Durand line between Pakistan and Afghanistan to stop cross border illegal trafficking. The terrorists and aliens sneak into Pakistan through that porous border.
-All mosques should be managed by the provinces with the creation of management boards for mosques and religious affairs. The Imams or the leaders of prayers should be appointed like other government servants. The government itself should build new mosques on the request of the residents of the particular areas.
-The hate speeches against the rival sects must be strictly forbidden and anyone indulging should be punished. As in Saudi Arabia and other middle eastern states the doors of the mosques should be opened near the prayer timings and closed after prayers unless there are special religious occasions like the month of fasting and 12 Rabiul Awwal( birth day of prophet Muhammad saws) etc.  
-The religious education in boarding madrasas and schools run by Mullas should be discontinued and made part of the established educational curricula and syllabi of the respective provinces.
-All religious outfits with label of militancy should be outlawed and banned. Religious organizations carrying out charity services should be registered through a proper procedure and after thorough scrutiny. Their activities should be kept under strict watch.
-FATA should be declared as an independent province or integrated into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to empower the people of that troubled area to run their own governance in the best interest of their people.
-It’s time for the Afghan refugees to be repatriated to their own country Afghanistan. That would be good for the economy of Pakistan with creation of countless jobs for the indigenous Pakistanis. The lawlessness attributed to Afghanis would scale down with their exit to Afghanistan.
-Every citizen should carry the National Identity Cards. The indigenous citizens without ID cards must be registered and the only foolproof system can be to give them the ID card after proper inquiry.
-The illegal foreign nationals staying in Karachi and other cities should be sent to their respective countries unless they provide such evidence as marriages with the local Pakistanis or carry valid documents to stay in Pakistan.
-The neighborhood ward committees should be reactivated to keep a watch around and in case of suspicious activities report to the police.
-The existing four elephantine provinces should be split into 16 provinces on the basis of such considerations as common ethnicity, language and culture etc.  Such examples can be as Siraiki and Hazara provinces.
-Although the concurrent list between the federation and provinces has been abolished yet still there is a need to transfer more powers to the provinces and within the provinces to the local bodies.
-Police should be trained on the Rangers pattern. They should have one color uniform without cap.
-The Court buildings should be separated from the kiosks of vendors, stamp sellers, tea stalls etc. The old and dilapidated buildings (British era) should be rebuilt with their plans taken from developed countries. The Judges and members of judiciary should be fully protected. It would be fine if their residential colonies are built near the court premises. Presently most of the courts perform among dirt and stench.

The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat.This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog

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