Malik M Ashraf
IN the aftermath of suicide attack in Civil hospital Quetta on August 08, which killed 70 and injured more than 100 persons (majority belonging to the lawyers community) the Supreme Court taking suo motu notice of the horrendous incident formed a one man judicial commission to probe into the circumstances that led to the attack, identify loopholes in anti-terrorism strategy and make recommendations to effectively deal with the phenomenon in the future. Qazi Faez Isa, the honourable judge of the SC after an onerous work of 56 days released the findings of the Commission that attributed the occurrence of the terrorist attack to a ‘monumental failure’ of interior ministry and laid the entire blame on interior minister. The report among other causes also pointed out lack of coordination among the intelligence agencies; non implementation of National Internal security policy; slackness in the implementation of NAP; dormant role of NACTA; failure to tackle the proscribed outfits and regulating the seminaries for which the ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony was held responsible, particularly its inability to stop hate speeches by operatives of the banned entities. The findings of the Commission were widely hailed by the media which found it convenient to have a swipe at the government and the state institutions, joined by the political opponents of the regime who took it as a god-send opportunity to hurl scathing flak at the government. However the Interior minister took strong exception to some of the observations made in the report regarding his person and vowed to challenge the report in the Supreme Court. Accordingly a 64-page rejoinder has been filed in the SC requesting the expunction of some of the remarks of the Judicial commission which are considered to be harsher on the person of the minister as well as do not reflect the ground realities in their proper context and also to tone down the language of commission report. Reportedly Justice Muslim Hani, one of the members of the three-member bench hearing the appeal did indicate watering down the language of the report observing that it was necessary to draw a line between the ministry itself and the minister. The remarks of the judge clearly indicate that the SC accepts the argument that the report made personal criticism rather than the criticism per se and it might accede to the request of watering down the harshness of the language. While the commission has focused on the failures it has sadly neglected to acknowledge the successes that have been achieved to tackle the burgeoning menace of terrorism through operation Zarb-i-Azb and the implementation of NAP, the details of which have been released to the media by respective implementing agencies and need not to be repeated here. Some of the observations of the commission, particularly pertaining to proscribed organizations and regulating the seminaries betray lack of understanding of the complexities involved. A number of religious parties with wide following are opposed to govt initiative of bringing seminaries under the government scrutiny. The proscribed outfits have also lot of following among people which makes govt and concerned agencies to tread with utmost caution. The phenomenon of terrorism also has an ideological dimension which is the most trickiest part of the whole affair and needs a long-term effort on the part of the government, civil society, all the stakeholders and media to develop a counter-narrative to the dogma being propagated by the terrorists besides dealing with them through muscle of the state. The fact is that the present government has shown a rare spunk in taking on the terrorist outfits through operation Zarb-i-Azb and NAP which have decidedly broken their back.
There is a need for taking a realistic view about the phenomenon of terrorism. It is easy to blame it on intelligence failure and presumed inadequacies and responses to deal with incidents of terrorism without looking at them in their proper context. The countries like US who have the most efficient security apparatus, sophisticated technology and resources at their disposal to deal with security threats failed to pre-empt attacks like 9/11. Similarly the spate of terrorist attacks in France and other European countries testify to the fact how difficult it is to deal with terrorism.

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