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Across-the-board action

May 01, 2013

WHEN Boston Marathon was subjected to an act of terrorism, the city, state and federal government of the US acted in unison, subjecting over one million residents of Boston to an extended curfew, halting all public transport and local business activity, in order to track two terrorists identified by CCTV surveillance cameras.

Terrorists can survive and evade a determined state only, if there is no writ of law and such criminal activities enjoy local support. In Boston, combined efforts of local residents and law-enforcement agencies helped in successfully arresting the suspects.

Compare this with half-hearted measures, mostly confined to condemnation by political parties and constitutional public office-holders, whenever an act of terrorism takes place in Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore or other parts of Pakistan.

The sad part is that stereotyped statements that the president, the prime minister, the chief minister and others have taken note of the incidence, coupled with the sad reality that nobody ever gets caught, or prosecuted. It only encourages terrorists and their sympathisers to believe that they are stronger than the state, or that the state is slave to political compulsions and blackmail.

In Karachi, for more than two decades, street crime, extortion and kidnapping for ransom, coupled with threats of targeted killings, have created an environment where crime flourishes with huge financial benefits. It enjoys massive political patronage and a pliant corrupt civil bureaucracy with equally corrupt law-enforcement agencies.

After 2008, the huge financial bonanza reaped by a few enticed other political players to have a share of this large pie and there followed a battle for turf, with thousands of fatalities.

This encouraged the more formidable and ruthless brand of terrorists such as the TTP, with their misconceived perception of religion, to forcefully have access to enormous financial funding from extortion and other heinous crimes.

There is no way that an extortion mafia activist can be identified from a TTP activist, both looking alike. If terrorism is to be controlled and finally eliminated from Pakistan, it can only be done by an across the board ruthless action against all criminals, irrespective of their political affiliation.

In the other case, this nemesis threatens our country from within and destroys the state infrastructure and collective national security interests of Pakistan.

M. ALI Lahore