From the Editor-in-Chief: Terrorism in Pakistan must be contained

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, January 28th, 2016
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The recent attack on a university in north-west Pakistan demonstrates clearly the fact that religious terrorism is alive and indeed is thriving. That is the message, or call it warning, which has come out of Charsadda, where terrorists launched an attack on Bacha Khan University on a cold winter morning. It was in dense fog that the killers struck and ended up killing no fewer than twenty-one people. Among those killed were students and a teacher of the university. The attack, which happens to have been the fourth in Pakistan in the first month of the year, is a reflection of the dark reality of how powerful and organised these terrorists remain. The very fact that they pounced a university shows the medievalism which they continue to uphold in their attitude to education. The attackers, and they were none other than the Taliban, have never concealed their contempt for education. One recalls their earlier attacks on the young schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai and the army school in Peshawar. The latest outrage is a pointer to the extent to which these bigots are willing to go in undermining civilized order not only in Pakistan but elsewhere as well, a reality we have observed in recent years.


The attack on Bacha Khan University, named after the well-known political leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also honoured as Frontier Gandhi, is indicative of how the Taliban mean not only to survive but also thrive in conditions where the state becomes gradually weakened and powerless to withstand its assaults. The Charsadda attack is a commentary on the Pakistan army’s failure to root out terrorism despite its much hyped operations against terrorists undertaken after the attack on the school in Peshawar in December 2014.  That attack left as many as 132 schoolchildren murdered. The methods employed by Pakistan’s army chief, General Raheel Sharif, in tackling the Taliban do not appear to have worked to public satisfaction. Terrorists have been hanged and many of their camps and hideouts have been obliterated in the force of the soldiers’ assaults. And yet the reality remains that terrorism has proliferated in Pakistan to an extent where it has become well-nigh difficult to tackle it all.


There are too the instances of disturbances in different parts of Pakistan, where soldiers have engaged in action that has only further inflamed passions. Karachi remains a hotbed of tension. A decades-long insurgency in Balochistan, fuelled by the military under a succession of governments, has only appeared to assume increasingly wider proportions. Pakistan’s treatment of Balochistan has been anything but admirable.


In the longer run, Pakistan’s politicians will have to rethink the issues confronting their country. Unless they can handle the terrorism question well — and they are in a large way responsible for the rise of terrorism through their unbridled past support of the Mujahideen and Taliban in Afghanistan — there is a very real danger of the entire South Asian region coming under a dark shadow of medieval fury. Already there are the signs of such darkness emerging.


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