SPEAKING FREELY Disturbing discourse in Pakistan
By Deedar Hussain Samejo
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Last week was one of the deadliest weeks in Peshawar since the start of the "war against terror". The city witnessed three deadly attacks in a week. On Sunday, a massive car bomb ripped through the crowded Qissa Khawani market. At least 43 people,
including three women and 15 children, were killed. Earlier, the All Saints Church attack, that left more than 80 dead, and Employees Bus bombing, killing 20, had shook the conscience of the entire nation.
The violence this week brought the people to the street to demanded action against militants. The masses, who do not believe in any the "US-Isreal-India conspiracy that politicians claim is working against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, are sure that the terrorists arethe Taliban. This deadly group, they believe, is holding the entire nation hostage. Therefore, the war the country is waging against extremism and militancy is also the people's own war.
Right-wing political leaders are still skeptical of this war. Chairman Imran Khan of the Pakistan Movement for Justice, Pakistan's second largest political party, says peace will return to the country once we withdraw support for the United States-led global war on terror and drone strikes cease. Recently, he said that the Taliban should be allowed to open an office to pursue dialogue. Chief Maulana Fazul-ur-Rehman of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, a religious conservative political party, argues that there is no option other than dialogue to bring peace in the country. The government, he insists, must accelerate the pace of dialogue to prevent "sabotage" by foreign agents.
It appears that the mass killings have failed to change this mindset. As terrorists continue to wreak havoc in the country, conservative leaders seem lost in a debate about the causes, nature and scope of terrorism.
This disturbing discourse has provided militants a space to operate, strengthen and expand their activities across the past 13 years. The monster of terrorism, which was limited to tribal areas almost 10 years ago, has now spread to major cities. Today, terrorism is a daily phenomenon, and radicalization is shaking the very foundations of our society.
Unlike Imran Khan and Maulana Fazul-ur-Rehman, prime minister Nawaz Sharif seems very cautious in his approach to extremism and militancy. He says dialogue is the most viable solution, but not the only option. And if it fails, the government will ponder on other options, including military operation. Following the deadly attack on senior military officers near Afghan border in mid-September and All Saints Church bomb blasts, he said, "such incidents are not conducive to peace talks". "The government is unable to move forward on what it had envisaged, on what it had wished for".
It appears that the prime minister, after offering Taliban a serious invitation for talks and getting feedback from them, is realizing that the dialogue with the Taliban is futile and there is need to adopt another alternative to root out the extremism and militancy.
Dialogue with the Taliban, who do not recognize the constitution, refuse to accept the writ of the state and are adamant to enforce their brand of Sharia law, is a flawed policy. By offering talks, leaders disgrace the sacrifices of more than 5,000 security personnel who lost their lives fighting the militants. Past experience tells us that the Taliban believe in suppression and always exploit the talks process to expand and strengthen their operations. The conditions, release of militant prisoners and cessation of military operations in tribal areas, for the resumption of dialog clearly indicate their ill-intentions.
The recent terrorism in Peshawar, which left more than 140 dead and hundreds injured, must awaken our political leaders to the horrors of disturbing discourse. They must not waste their energies in condemning terrorist attacks and appeasing militants. There is urgent need for a consensus on the issue of terrorism. Our leaders, most importantly pro-talks leaders, must understand the basic fact that the enemy is within, not outside. Therefore, the war the country is fighting with the militants is our own war, not a proxy war. This is a war against the repressive forces who wish to see our coming generations living in an stone-age era.
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say.Please click hereif you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.
Deedar Hussain Samejo is pursuing a Masters in Political Science at University of Sindh, Jamshoro. firstname.lastname@example.org