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Formulating an anti-terrorism policy

Updated July 19, 2013

THE new government is now deliberating on developing a national policy on terrorism and towards militant groups which have ravaged Pakistan’s landscape.

The task will become easier if we focus on some basic parameters of an effective policy before engaging in debates on the administrative structures that would be required to implement it.

The last government’s efforts at finalising such a policy got entangled in the administrative aspect and never could proceed beyond that.

One clear criterion for determining whether a particular group or organisation can be classified as militants or terrorists should be whether or not the basic objectives of the group are compatible with our national interest.

We can then look at their activities and determine their status in this regard and act accordingly.

Please note that the job at hand is not to develop an understanding of the morality of the objectives of the various militant groups or to make abstract value judgments as to whether they are good or bad in an absolute sense.

For example, in the case of Tamil Tigers the international media debated for years whether the movement and its tactics were justified on moral-political grounds and from time to time they either supported these elements and insisted that Sri Lanka negotiate with them, or described them as terrorists depending on their own preferences. This was not helpful and confused the Sri Lankan policy and delayed Sri Lanka from taking a decisive action against these elements.

A more interesting example is the case of how Jordan under King Hussain got rid of elements within it which had started becoming a threat to Jordan's own existence.

Please note Jordan did not have to de-legitimise the Palestinian movement. It only had to establish whether the fighters within its borders were a threat to its own existence and act accordingly.

Likewise in our case we need not establish whether the Taliban movement or the activities of the Jihadi outfits are justified on political or moral grounds or whether or not the outfits that want to promulgate a Salafi brand of Islam are propagating the ‘correct’ version of Islam. We only need to establish whether the activities of these groups are good or bad for the state of Pakistan.

In fact, the militant groups active here use this very logic and behave very rationally and completely without regard to any altruistic religious or national affiliation, when it comes to the achievement of their own objectives and act accordingly.

Virginia, US

Time to act

THERE are various terrorist outfits operating throughout Pakistan, the largest proportion of which comes under the umbrella of the Taliban, who may no longer heed Shahbaz Sharif’s ‘request’ not to attack Punjab. The PML-N now wields power not only in Punjab but also in the centre. It is responsible for formulating a policy vis-à-vis the Taliban and the war on terror.

But, unfortunately, a change in government has not changed the situation on the ground: suicide bombings, drone attacks, Pakistan’s alliance with the US in the war on terror.

It is hereby apprehended that the Taliban may see a nexus between the PML-N government and the US, and launch a similar attack in the heart of Punjab that is Lahore.

The government has been dragging its feet on the Taliban issue. It should decide whether to have a dialogue or go for an all out war. Time is fast running out and anymore delay may cause further loss of life and limb, putting in jeopardy the very viability of the state we call Pakistan.


Defusing bombs

THE media reported recently that two persons of the bomb disposal squad were killed while defusing bomb in Swabi (KP).

This is the second incident in KP as in the first one Inspector Hakim Khan lost his life.

It appears that we do not learn our lessons from past experiences.

The following measures must be adopted in order to prevent such incidence in future.

First, on detecting IED/bomb as area of about 300metres must be cordoned off before carrying out such an operation as remote device can be actuated during defusing operation.

Second, normally detonators are embedded in plastic explosive (PE) and are difficult to detect. Detonators can actuate with friction, heat or jolt.

Third, the bomb disposal staff must be sufficiently trained to handle sensitive explosives.

Fourth, the KP government is in possession of four robot-equipped bomb disposal vehicles which can be deployed for such operations as there is no risk to human life.

Fifth, since the whole of Pakistan is under the grip of terrorism, the same practices as listed above can be adhered by Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab.

Wah Cantt