Editorial: Dying to kill
Like a slap in the face, Monday’s terror attacks left a harsh sting on our claims of staying two steps ahead in curbing the militants. Targeting a rally of ANP in Timergarah, Lower Dir, celebrating the renaming of NWFP as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, a suicide bomber killed close to 50 people. Reports state that the bomber was an adolescent. In the wake of this atrocity, news of another attack in Peshawar shook the country. The target was the US Consulate, a place considered insulated and impregnable to all threats due to the intense security under which it functions. However, such assumptions were belied as a fierce battle took place between the militants and the consulate guards, four of whom were killed.
It is alarming that such assaults have become routine assertions of the terrorists’ effectiveness in instilling a sense of dread and fear within the national psyche. Such incidences are also a reminder that there is only so much we can protect and only so much we can pin on our security agencies. To lay the responsibility for a cessation of terror attacks solely on the security agencies would be unjust. There can never be enough security provided to citizens, state institutions, foreign missions and rallies. When faced with a masked enemy who could be anyone and anywhere, what is required is a heightening of intelligence and police work to pre-empt and prevent such incidents.
The Taliban have arrogantly claimed responsibility for the Peshawar attack and have vowed to do more harm. The US Consulate attack was a reminder that no place is safe and no one is beyond the terrorists’ deadly reach. In the light of the terrorists’ declared intentions, our two-pronged strategy of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism will need to be pursued with greater vigour. The war being waged in FATA and Swat is an assault on terrorist strongholds, a good example of how a correct counter-insurgency strategy can fragment the enemy and force him to literally run for the hills. That is when countering terror comes into play as these fragmented groups then resort to audacious assaults to reinstate themselves on top in this cycle of war. The daylight attack on the US Consulate was extremely sophisticated and well coordinated. To anticipate and obstruct the next move made by the terrorists, an intelligently carried out infiltration operation is necessary so that an unseen enemy can be tracked and intelligence reports can be relayed back to those who can then, appropriately, heighten their defences. News reports have suggested that the Taliban are now reluctant to bring new troops into their fold for this very reason.
It is common knowledge that our debilitated youth become fodder for the militants. Usually described as young men who have no jobs, no education prospects and no hope, these emotionally charged and impulsive teenagers make the perfect scapegoats. However, such socially alienated elements can be removed from the militants’ reach by integrating them within the community. The fundamental importance of education and employment, tasks that should be taken up on a war footing, is undeniable
Dealing with such unruly elements requires a study of the demography and profile of the elements you are dealing with. *
Second Editorial: Nabbing IJT
A highly organised structure meant to maintain dominance, rampant use of violence whenever perceived interests are threatened, vandalising property, enforcing a self-styled moral code and disrupting student functions hardly matches the image of the student wing of a patently ‘Islamic’ party. But this is what Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba (IJT) is all about ever since the consolidation of its hold over the Punjab University (PU) campus back in the 1970s. Incidentally, this notorious student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami is also active on other campuses across the country and involved in similar activities there too. Last week, the hooligans of IJT, violating all norms of proper conduct for a student, vandalised the PU vice chancellor’s office and later went on to beat up the principal of PU College of Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Dr Iftikhar Baloch. His crime was that under his chairmanship, the PU disciplinary committee had unanimously decided to expel four and rusticate two students belonging to IJT for violation of discipline. It is unfortunate that instead of mending their ways, the IJT decided to go a step ahead to show solidarity with their errant colleagues. Academic activity in PU has been suspended since.
IJT has a long and sorry history of terrorist actions. From university vice chancellor to security guards, nobody dares to touch them because they wield arms and are not averse to violence, as the current incident shows. How can we expect institutions of higher education to promote learning and critical thinking when both the teachers and students are held hostage to the terror tactics of a student body, which considers itself above the law? The provincial authorities must discharge their responsibility to assist the PU management in maintaining a violence-free atmosphere on campus. It has a long time now that the PU authorities and teachers associations have been requesting the Punjab government and police to nab subversive elements disrupting peace and academic activities all too often. The university guards cannot be expected to confront armed hooligans. Each new incident invokes fresh vows, but no action. The chief minister, realising the gravity of the situation, should order a coordinated and sustained operation against elements that, in the garb of students, serve vested interests and spread mayhem in PU. *