BASHIR Ahmed Bilour, an ANP stalwart and an implacable critic of militancy and Pakistan’s drift towards extremism, is no more. Killed by the same ideology he preached against and which saw him as a threat to the agenda of remaking Pakistan into a darker and more troubling place, the tragedy of Mr Bilour’s death is that it was perhaps a death foretold. In recent weeks, the surge in militant violence across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata may have come as a surprise to some, but to anyone following the arc of militancy in the region closely, the signs of an unbowed and undefeated militant threat looking to reassert itself were plentiful. And given that the state’s response in the face of the morphing threat from militancy appears to have been yet more uncertainty and near paralysis in some areas, the likelihood of high-profile attacks that would grab headlines and inflict further blows against the morale of the state and the public was very high. Now, Mr Bilour is dead and it’s almost certain that the recent wave of attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata will continue.

What can the state do? In moments like this, well-meaning commentary about better strategies and tactics and who to fight where and when are almost beside the point. Once, and only once, Pakistani state and society develop a consensus that militancy, radicalisation and extremism need to be decisively reversed, can any military, political or social strategy work. There is often much focus put on the role of the army-led security establishment in prolonging Pakistan’s association with militancy, radicalisation and extremism. The focus is correct and necessary because until the army adopts a zero-tolerance policy towards militancy, the state is unlikely to ever develop the will or capacity to smother the threat permanently. However, there is a serious burden of responsibility on the civilian political class too — a burden of responsible leadership that few have been able to carry well when it comes to confronting the militant threat.

For all the levers and control the security establishment may have over state and society, if there is to be meaningful change, it is the civilian political leadership that will have to demonstrate courage and clarity. Too much obfuscation, too much dithering, too much doublespeak has characterised many civilian politicians’ response to the threat from militancy. Myopia can only take a politician so far; ultimately, the militants have made it clear: it is them versus everyone else.

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Comments (5)

Ajaya K Dutt
December 24, 2012 3:59 pm
US should leave Pakistan alone. Afgans did not give in Taliban completly even when there was a passive acceptance from west. They shall not give in now. Taliban, with or without Pakistan support or opposition, will survive but only go so far.
December 23, 2012 11:45 pm
Supreme Court's actions in regards to Lal Majid make it difficult for the government and armed forces to take any meaningful action against terrorists. Government and military both are worried that whatever action they take, can be held against them. Also the terrorists enjoy certain support from some politicians, who want to reap some political benefit. This is giving a free hand to the terrorists to do what they please with the people of Pakistan without any fear or remorse. Sadly they use the name of religion for their political agenda.
December 24, 2012 12:17 am
This is not going to end unless we separate ourselves from USA. No body can fight own people. Time has proved that despite our military have been using might with f -16 and deploying many tricks including trying to create rift among militants is not resulting in any positive outcome because militants are unified in their thinking and strategy which is dying for their cause (right or wrong )ie fighting against USA and who ever appears to be allies and once someone decide to die for their cause, they become invincible. So it will be prudent to stay aloof and away from USA, things will settle down example when nato supplies were stopped there were almost no suicide attacks.
December 24, 2012 4:21 am
Well said. However, the top leadership in Islamabad is immersed in cheap drawing room politics. They hide behind VVIP security and do not venture outside their official palaces. The cowardly and corrupt rulers have never once visited the troops in Swat or FATA areas. They cannot be expected to take a courageous stand against the militants.
andy fr dc
December 24, 2012 10:35 pm
"Darker and more troubling place". You mean Pakistan could sink even further ? How?
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