Those complicit in spreading terror masquerading to lead the charge against it 

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

For too long have we pointed our finger at others. For too long have we blamed the heavens, the stars, the moon, the sun and the satellites for our miseries. For too long have we held responsible the creatures flying above and those residing at the bed of the sea for the wrongs that have occurred in our midst. For too long have we accused other geographic entities of hatching conspiracies to weaken us, to destroy us. For too long have we suffered from an innate persecution complex as if the whole world had nothing better to do except conspire our destruction. For too long have we allowed money to dictate the destiny of this country and its people as we either sit back helplessly, or extend a hand to benefit from the nauseating largesse distributed so heartlessly by the ruling elite. For too long have we blamed the Christians, the Hindus, the Jews and just about everyone else who practices a different faith for our setbacks – we have even blamed those belonging to other sects within our own religion. For too long have we tried to play a role abysmally disproportionate with our calling and have taken upon ourselves tasks that had better be left alone. For too long have we preached religiosity, regression and violence as the key instruments of national unity. For too long have we tried to make others believe that we are serious about fighting extremism, but have allowed proscribed terror groups and their welfare extensions to disseminate evil with impunity. For too long have we allowed the nurseries of terror and their evil conduits to continue indoctrinating the extremist mindset. For too long have we allowed time and space to criminals of all ilk to pontificate on the virtues of democracy, but use reprehensible instruments of despotism and regression to drive the fear of a few. For too long have we indulged in disdainful self-righteousness, thus displaying harrowing signs of crassness and regression. For too long have we assiduously promoted theocracy to usurp the freedoms of our fellow-beings and the hope and aspirations of the future generations.

“For too long have we allowed the nurseries of terror and their evil conduits to continue indoctrinating the extremist mindset. For too long have we allowed time and space to criminals of all ilk to pontificate on the virtues of democracy, but use reprehensible instruments of despotism and regression to drive the fear of a few. For too long have we indulged in disdainful self-righteousness, thus displaying harrowing signs of crassness and regression. For too long have we assiduously promoted theocracy to usurp the freedoms of our fellow-beings and the hope and aspirations of the future generations.”

This is the unfortunate way Pakistan and Pakistanis have evolved over time. The finger that should first be pointing inwards to ascertain where we went wrong, which we have repeatedly, is always pointed in others’ direction. We treat ourselves as God’s perfect creation which can do no wrong, while others are deeply fallible given only to causing mischief, almost exclusively targeted at us. We are sunk deep into the quagmire, but we think we are only having a pleasant swim. With time, we are being increasingly consumed by the putrid juices of our own hatred and venom. Tragic, but what can one do when the religiosity-laden, self-destructive streak is more pervading than the power of any reason and logic.

We think we should not indulge God’s bounties as that would be a sin. We deny ourselves the pleasure of enjoying others’ achievements as we consider this to be a Zionist conspiracy. Take Malala, for example, a simple girl from the backyards of civilisation who was determined not to sacrifice her right to education. She was targeted by those whose degenerate means she did not succumb to. She escaped the brutal attack and had to leave the country for life-saving treatment. She is now a proud Nobel Laureate but, except for a few who applaud her achievement, we are seething with rage because, in her spectacular achievement, we read a Western conspiracy. When a few members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly moved a resolution for the establishment of a university in the province to be named after Malala, the speaker refused to entertain it on the plea that the government did not have funds. This is the same degenerative attitude that has already pushed us precariously close to the edge. We are hanging in there, just barely. How long would we be able to continue performing the act of survival should not be difficult to guess!

“We think we should not indulge God’s bounties as that would be a sin. We deny ourselves the pleasure of enjoying others’ achievements as we consider this to be a Zionist conspiracy. Take Malala, for example, a simple girl from the backyards of civilisation who was determined not to sacrifice her right to education. She was targeted by those whose degenerate means she did not succumb to. She escaped the brutal attack and had to leave the country for life-saving treatment. She is now a proud Nobel Laureate but, except for a few who applaud her achievement, we are seething with rage because, in her spectacular achievement, we read a Western conspiracy.”

The much hype that is being associated with the convening of the All Parties Conference (APC) after the dastardly terrorist attack on the Peshawar school and the millions of meetings that have since been held to demonstrate the national resolve against terror seem to be so full of self-serving hyperbole and rhetoric, without any real meaning and substance. The very act of calling the APC is an acknowledgement on the part of the incumbent government of its failure to provide protection to the people of the country. Instead of rethinking its deeply-flawed anti-terror strategy and initiate all-encompassing and stringent measures to combat the scourge, the government opted to pass the buck and convened a huddle of the political concoctions to deliberate measures that have already been discussed a million times over, to streamline strategies that have already gone through the drill countless number of times, and to express resolve against terror which one does not hear the end of. The APC concluded by creating more schisms that it was able to address – with the religious parties led by JUI-F vowing to oppose its decisions including the setting up of the military courts. They showed particular sensitivity to the resolve to combat ‘religious terrorism’ in the script of the draft. Of seething annoyance was the veiled reference to the madrassas being a key source of spreading terror and recipients of illegal funding.

The entire exercise has boiled down to passing the responsibility of combating the scourge of terror to the military including the right to try the criminals in courts set up and managed by the GHQ. Consequently, the credit in case of success of which the chances are remote, and the discredit for a likely failure, would rest squarely on the military. Where is the political government in all this? Why is it that the prime minister, who till just a few months ago, was at odds with the military on just about every subject under the sky, is so eager to let the GHQ call the shots? Let’s not forget that Nawaz Sharif is not a willing partner in this war against terror. He accepted the Zarb-e-Azb not because he was happy with it, but because it was presented to him as fait accompli. He did not have an option. Again, this time around, he did not have the luxury of an option. The attack was a bit much for anyone to stomach. The military decided that some action had to be taken. The prime minister could either go along, or opt out and go home. He chose the former, but would be marking his time cleverly for striking. The failure of the anti-terror move would be his best revenge, and he would be actively manoeuvring for expediting such eventuality. He already has the services of the religious right to support his cause, the likes of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and the Jamaat-e-Islami and the vast repertoire of the regressive clergy that would like to see Pakistan remaining entangled in the demonic clutches of religiosity and terror. Love of Islam is not the reason for disagreement. The disparate merchants of religion are fighting desperately to keep their illicit coffers overflowing. The patrons and protectors of terror networks who are housed in the ruling alleys dare not move against the religious fanatics as they have been the traditional beneficiaries of their support.

“The Pakistani society is also laden with the burden of its own past, mostly rooted in the baggage of religiosity that it has been so mercilessly fed on through decades. It is writhing under a plethora of unsavoury pressures which it finds difficult to address in an environment of fear of the establishment, the criminal mafias and their conduits, and of the fellow beings. The societal reaction to the attack in Paris on the office of Charlie Hebdo was remarkable when practically every Parisian stepped out to defend the freedoms which are central to the French Republic. There is no such pride that Pakistanis have been left to guard. For them, it is just a ceaseless struggle to survive another day using means both fair and foul, mostly the latter!”

The government’s resolve has no teeth. The puking of sectarian venom from the Lal Masjid pulpit is now over three weeks old. A case was reluctantly registered against Abdul Aziz who happens to be a paid government servant and there have been repeated demands from the civil society and human rights organisations to arrest the accused, but no progress has yet been reported. There is considerable substance in the accusations that the much-touted government resolve is confined to inane statements only, and that’s where it is likely to be buried.

The Pakistani society is also laden with the burden of its own past, mostly rooted in the baggage of religiosity that it has been so mercilessly fed on through decades. It is writhing under a plethora of unsavoury pressures which it finds difficult to address in an environment of fear of the establishment, the criminal mafias and their conduits, and of the fellow beings. The societal reaction to the attack in Paris on the office of Charlie Hebdo was remarkable when practically every Parisian stepped out to defend the freedoms which are central to the French Republic. There is no such pride that Pakistanis have been left to guard. For them, it is just a ceaseless struggle to survive another day using means both fair and foul, mostly the latter!

“The irreconcilable paradox about National Action Plan (NAP) is that those gravely complicit in spreading the scourge of terror are the ones masquerading to lead the charge against it. Under the circumstances, and given the path that has been adopted as a consequence of the passing of the 21st constitutional amendment, there are two options that the military will be confronted with after the veneer of artificial support from the ruling political elite has veered off: either back off and let the corrupt rulers indulge in their legendary muckraking, or hound the ruling elite out and follow a corrective course. There are no benefits in the former option at all while the latter is gravely riddled with pitfalls of its own given the military’s penchant to get involved with the task of running the country. Yet, there may not be a third option to pursue!”

The irreconcilable paradox about National Action Plan (NAP) is that those gravely complicit in spreading the scourge of terror are the ones masquerading to lead the charge against it. Under the circumstances, and given the path that has been adopted as a consequence of the passing of the 21st constitutional amendment, there are two options that the military will be confronted with after the veneer of artificial support from the ruling political elite has veered off: either back off and let the corrupt rulers indulge in their legendary muckraking, or hound the ruling elite out and follow a corrective course. There are no benefits in the former option at all while the latter is gravely riddled with pitfalls of its own given the military’s penchant to get involved with the task of running the country.

Yet, there may not be a third option to pursue!

For Pakistan

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