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 THE assassination of ANP leader Bashir Bilour by the TTP is another clear signal that terrorists can reach whenever and wherever they want. Mr Bilour, according to media reports, was the only minister who did not accept salary or privileges.

Over the years, the terrorists have become so confident that they announce their plan before even executing it. Unfortunately, the security and law-enforcement agencies seem helpless.

There is no consensus among the top political leadership so far about how to deal with terrorism. Religio-political parties, which protected these factions during the MMA government, defend these acts by putting criminal spins on the terror attacks and blame America, India and Israel, even when their own leadership is attacked.

The PPP policy against terrorists is marred by their political implications because the government has not been able to create a consensus among people against terrorism. So close to elections, they are reluctant to take any significant action against terrorists. Some among the PML (N) top leadership also talk about action against the TTP, but predominantly the leadership still argues that fighting the terrorists is America’s war.

Their arguments demonstrate their fear of the PTI which, in some way, has a soft corner for the terrorists. The PTI stance towards terrorism is full of innuendo and misreading of the situation. They argue that they will isolate the militants and talk to those who are willing to listen to the PTI. However, they never said how they will isolate these groups.

In the regions where civilians cannot even enter, who will be the PTI’s pawn who dares to take a chance on his/her life by going in? According to media reports, when the PTI rally reached the South Waziristan border, one of PTI’s top leaders, who may be in the run for the position of foreign minister in the potential PTI government, refused to come out of his car.

In the larger interest of Pakistan, the PPP, PML (N), ANP, MQM and the military must sit together and form a strategy to deal with this menace. It is now too late for negotiations because giving more time to terrorists will further provide them opportunity to get further organised.

The military must launch a massive operation to break the core of TTP/Al Qaeda, and the political leadership must form public opinion in favour of military operation without any fear of a backlash from the religio-political parties and the PTI.

They will be onboard if they realise that public opinion is supporting such military action. Once the epicentre of terrorism is broken, there may be a chance for political negotiations.

Anyone who believes that he/she can ‘isolate’ bad and ‘mild’ terrorists and open a dialogue with mild ones without destroying their lethal power is simply naïve and a simpleton.

The assassination of Mr Bilour must be an eye-opener because it is a ‘now or never’ situation and this incident must go in the history as watershed if democratic forces decides that they will have zero tolerance policy for acts of terrorism.

MISBAH U. AZAM Silicon Valley United States

Blood-stained walls

I RECENTLY visited my friend in the ‘Andar Shehar’. I was back in Peshawar after four months. After parking my car, I walked towards the street which led to my friend’s house.

It was not until I saw the blood-stained walls and the shards of glasses that I realised where I was. It was the street where the ANP’s senior minister Bashir Bilour took his last breath. It was the same street where the suicide bomb blast killed seven others.

I did watch the news but it really astonished me when I saw the normality of the situation in that street. Children, elders, women were passing through the street, occasionally glancing at the remains of the incident to give their mild acknowledgement. I was surprised. I should not have been.

There is a concept in psychology called ‘desensitisation’. It refers to the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or an aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it.

As a student of psychology, I should not have been surprised by the behaviour of the people there. Perhaps, what I failed to realise was that in addition to them, I too, was desensitised.

FARDAD MUHAMMAD BAIG Peshawar

Devising strategy

ONCE again the vicious assault by extremist mindset has saddened peace-lovers and silenced a stentorian voice always raised in opposition to the radicals in the militancy-hit province.

Bashir Bilour, the senior minister of the Awami National Party in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, was an icon of bravery in both political and civil circles of the country. He used to be always there amid war-torn masses in the province to comfort and condole with the dwellers being killed by the terrorists.

The question arises: how does a state within a state exist? The militants never hesitate in targeting the state and private properties. As a result, schools, colleges, hospitals, mausoleums and other places are being blown up by explosive devices.

The war on terror was never ours but we owned it. However, let bygones be bygones. It is no time to shed tears over the past but it is the need of the hour to portray solidarity and hit the extremists. The martyrdom of Bashir Bilour demands that we devise a strategy to eliminate this menace from our country.

SHARIF KHAN Zhob