HOLDING ‘hidden hands’ and external forces responsible for our security woes is an old excuse that officialdom trots out to deflect criticism. And in keeping with this practice, the head of the interior ministry’s National Crisis Management Cell has told this newspaper that “terrorists who have infiltrated from Afghanistan are to blame for much of Pakistan’s poll-related violence. While it is believed that some fugitive Pakistani militants such as Fazlullah are based in Afghanistan, and Islamabad has asked Kabul to take action against them, the fact is that the major security threat to this country is internal, ie militants based in Pakistan are responsible for the recent poll-related havoc. The TTP has proudly claimed responsibility for bombings and has also distributed pamphlets warning citizens not to take part in polls. It has also threatened liberal parties such as the ANP, MQM and PPP. The leaders of the extremists’ campaign against democracy and their spokesmen are all located within our borders. Even the army chief, while blasting “external enemies” for rampant terrorism in Pakistan the other day, conceded that internal elements also need to be dealt with.
Hence what further argument is required to convince the state that the problem is very much internal? What is more, playing the blame game does little to tackle militancy in practical terms.
It is true that in a geopolitically complex world elements based outside our borders could well be trying to destabilise our security. But proof is needed of this and more importantly, what is the state doing to prevent such activities? However, in the context of our predicament vis-à-vis religious militancy, the problem is a product of our own follies — we have allowed the internal militant threat to grow into a monster. Instead of passing the buck the state needs to come to terms with the issue. Admitting the problem, and that it is our problem, will help us deal with it effectively; maintaining a state of denial will only have adverse consequences.