The collective effort to eliminate terrorism


With an aim to wipe out all terrorists once and for all, the Pakistan army has embarked on another operation in the Khyber Agency. Ground forces backed by air strikes and heavy artillery shelling at suspected militant hideouts have succeeded in penetrating into the deep-forested Rajgal valley in Tirah, which is considered to be the last bastion of outlawed militant groups. Sporadic incidents of terror have kept the security forces on their toes, and the military leadership is pursuing a methodological strategy to eliminate militancy from the country. For them the use of force is the only way to flush out militants. For this purpose, ground operations are underway in restive areas of the country bordering Afghanistan, while arrested terrorists are being sent to the gallows intermittently since Pakistan ended a seven-year moratorium on death penalty after Taliban attackers gunned down more than 150 people, most of them children, at the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014. Lately, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has signed the death warrants of 11 “hardcore terrorists” who were convicted by military courts of terrorism-related offences.
Along with these military ventures, the civilian government is also being asked to ensure strict implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP). Reportedly, there are differences between the military and civilian leadership over the proper implementation of NAP. It shows a lack of cohesion between government and military establishment in their war against terrorism, giving the perception that their strategies in targeting of ending militancy are not similiar. The military establishment took up the issue with the government, and expressed its concerns over the sluggish performance of the committees formed to oversee the implementation of NAP. In order to address these concerns, the government has approved a plan for setting up 29 wings of the Frontier Corps, and constituted the body that would oversee the implementation of NAP.
Undoubtedly, the use of force had become necessary to root out the malaise of militancy that has long gripped the country. However, along with the launching of operations, there is a need to address the root causes of terrorism in the country. The execution of militants is not a solution to the problem. At a time when the death penalty is being abolished in most countries, Pakistan is using this centuries-old punishment as deterrence against crimes, whereas as studies show, the death penalty has failed to prove a deterrent against crime and terrorism. Instead of relying on capital punishment that is considered an inhuman act there is a need to introduce a reform culture in which criminals would be treated as human beings. Hanging offenders will not bring peace to a terrorism-riddled Pakistan, or solace to those who lost their loved ones to an act of brutality. Pakistan must have a reform system based on human values of repentance, rehabilitation, compassion and forgiveness. Pakistan needs to implement an effective strategy to shut those factories that produce such human bombs that unleash hell on civilians. The glorification of taking lives under the garb of “jihad” is something that sullies the narrative of complete elimination of terrorism as there exists myriad organisations that distort religious injunctions to justify killing of people under one pretext or other. In order to fully implement NAP, action must be taken against all those banned outfits that through relentless indoctrination pervert young minds and collect finances in the name of religion. Unless coordinated efforts both at civilian and military levels are made, the scourge of militancy will continue to plague the country.