Fight the militants, or die

Published: December 28, 2012

The writer is Senior Editor at RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal. The views expressed here are his own.

The killing of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister Bashir Bilour is another wake-up call for the people and an eye-opener for political leaders and policymakers to look into the eyes of the scourge confronting Pakistan.From Benazir Bhutto to Bashir Bilour, each terror attack drew widespread condemnations besides generating heated debates on media, but the net result always proved a naught because soon enough, public outrage dissipated and policymakers, both civvies and khakis, returned to their old jobs. The assassination of Bashir Bilour is fresh and, of course, will take a few more days to vanish from public memory.

Prior to this tragic event, the last one that brought about universal outrage was the attack on Malala Yousufzai on October 10, which was claimed by the Taliban. With the exception of a few Taliban apologists, almost all political parties expressed shock over the dastardly act and it also drew a few words of condemnation from Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The attempt to kill the 15-year-old schoolgirl, the level of public anger and the reaction from the country’s powerful army were all taken as pointers to across-the-board action against the militants. However, expectations soon died down amidst excuses from political and military leadership alike and Malala’s name became restricted to being discussed in seminars and conferences.

She is a closed chapter because since the attack on her, the emboldened Taliban staged even more audacious acts of terror, including a complex one on the Peshawar airport and then topped that off with the killing of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s senior minister.

The persistent inaction on the part of the elected government, political leadership and security agencies, for whatever reason, is highly demoralising and demotivating for society because it tells ordinary people that the political and military leadership is succumbing to the pressure being put by the militants.

It is people like Bashir Bilour, Benazir Bhutto, Malala Yousufzai, Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti who challenge the extremist ideology and all — except Malala — were knocked out one by one, while all the pillars of the state silently stood by and did nothing.

Imagine how a 15-year-old schoolgirl could have harmed armed-to-the-teeth militants. She was attacked because she was emerging as a symbol of courage for the rest of society and was openly challenging the Taliban mindset based on utter disregard for human rights and discriminatory treatment of women. The same was the case with Bashir Bilour who had made it a habit to reach the spot of each terrorist attack and openly challenge and condemn the perpetrators by calling them ‘cowards’, which he did to boost public morale.

If Bashir Bilour wished, he could have buried his head in the sand like his fellow politicians and saved his skin — and most probably his life as well. However, he chose to face the threat head on for the sake of the coming generations and finally sacrificed his life.

After surviving two botched attempts on his life, Bashir Bilour’s well-wishers used to advise him to be careful. And he would reply: “Da Gor Shpa Pa Kor Na Shee Ratle (The night destined to be in the grave can’t be the one spent at home)”. His views about the Taliban violence were very clear. “This is our war. We need to own it.” And whenever asked about talks with the militants, he never said ‘no’ — but argued that talks would be held only when the other side agrees to accept the Constitution.

For all those who claim to be defenders of the country’s sovereignty and the Constitution but hesitate to issue even a few words of condemnation against those brutally killing innocent citizens, Bilour’s sacrifice must become a wake-up call. As rightly mentioned by ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan during his December 25 press briefing, this is the war for Pakistan’s very existence and this is no time for politicking. The options are clear for the security establishment and political leadership: face the threat head on or continue to close eyes and wait till no one is left to speak at all.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2012.

Reader Comments (15)

  • Mirza
    Dec 29, 2012 - 12:41AM

    We have nurtured these terrorists as strategic assets and provided them safe havens. Now the chickens have come home to roost and we have no solution. My question is when we have such a huge army, why should the innocent civilians and elected leaders suffer and there is no stopping of the terrorists? Beside drones there is no force that could put the fear of God in these terrorists. How many more deaths would it take before our brave and vigilant armed forces act?
    We can malign the govt but it is the job of army to control these terrorists and protect citizens. When generals could dash to London for an unsigned and undated memo without wasting any time why are they not moving against our true enemies?

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  • FATA
    Dec 29, 2012 - 1:26AM

    FACE IT HEAD ON BEFORE THE HISTORY TELLS YOUR CHILDREN HOW PATHETIC YOU WERE!

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  • Arifq
    Dec 29, 2012 - 1:49AM

    Well said Sir, Pakistan is fast running out of time, people and ideas.

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  • socko
    Dec 29, 2012 - 3:51AM

    “Da Gor Shpa Pa Kor Na Shee Ratle”
    (The night destined to be in the grave
    can’t be the one spent at home) -
    Wise words form Bashir Bilour

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  • Pure
    Dec 29, 2012 - 5:43AM

    Yet another killing and an article on “wake up or else”. Neither will be the last and no one is waking up. Why screw up a perfect sleep?

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  • hashem
    Dec 29, 2012 - 9:49AM

    I can only repeat the same wise words said by Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan “YOU HAVE THROWN US INTO WOLVES.”

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  • MSS
    Dec 29, 2012 - 12:18PM

    Let us hope for a better future how so ever unlikely that may seem at the moment.

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  • sabi
    Dec 29, 2012 - 1:21PM

    Strategic assets for Kashmir–Failed
    Strategic assets for Afghanistan-failed
    Strategic assets for destabalisation democracy-Satisfactory.
    Do people of Pakistan have the might of America or India to fail them.

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  • Dec 29, 2012 - 2:43PM

    @Mirza:

    ” We can malign the govt but it is the job of army to control these terrorists and protect citizens. When generals could dash to London for an unsigned and undated memo without wasting any time why are they not moving against our true enemies?”

    Very true . Definitely it is the job and responsibility of the army to protect. But simultaneously it is also the responsibility of the civilian government to instruct/ request the army in this direction in clear terms. PPP skirted in the name of consensus and PML – N declined to give the consent for a full fledged operation/ action against them. Their vote politics does not allow it . Probably Establishment as well as the political parties still believe that Militants / extremists can be controlled/ weakened either by force or directing them elsewhere..Any action against them does not appear to be possible before election.

    Memo gate was perceived by army as a step to weaken their hold by maligning them and therefore the obvious quick action/ reaction to protect their (softer) image..

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  • ahmed41
    Dec 29, 2012 - 5:42PM

    Tell us what is to be done !! one step at a time . Show us what to do.

    ~~~next keep on repeating it. Till such time as it SINKS in.

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  • Dr.A. K.Tewari
    Dec 29, 2012 - 10:08PM

    “Da Gor Shpa Pa Kor Na Shee
    Ratle”
    (The night destined to be in
    the grave
    can’t be the one spent at
    home) – Wise words form Bashir Bilour

    Kayani’s statement is in cohrence with the above article, be sure ,every one is ready to react at an appropriate time .

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  • Najeebullah
    Dec 29, 2012 - 10:11PM

    One of the best article i have read in Express tribune. Bravo

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  • stuti
    Dec 30, 2012 - 5:32PM

    The devil is not the Taliban, its the ideology. How will you overcome it?

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  • Dec 31, 2012 - 11:19AM

    There’s been many wake up calls, but the whole nation has hit a permanent snooze. Swat takeover. Marriot bombing. Soldiers’ beheadings. Salman Taseer. Malala. Shia bus massacre. Blasphemy violence. etc. Have to disagree with ‘a few Taliban apologists’. There’s a lot, including sympathizers and supporters who justify all sorts of violent religious extremism. Society has been ideologically radicalized and indoctrinated. The security establishment still insanely allowed militant extremists to host the DPC openly. It had sizeable popularity. Malala had warned everyone never to pander to the Taliban. Yet, that was what Bashir Bilour’s own brother, Ghulam Bilour did. An ironic tragedy. There’s even sabotage from those who supposedly oppose extremists. Like the govt denying extra security to their own ministers, Taseer and Bhatti. The security establishment and political leadership have a messed up relationship and dysfunctional, reflecting the state of the nation. Even the civilian courts have failed, releasing terrorist militants out of sympathy, including the Laal Masjid extremists. See little hope.

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  • Dr.A. K.Tewari
    Dec 31, 2012 - 7:16PM

    @stuti:
    That is why the field is being vacated by international force for the time being and we are fanning the ideological war between different groups in Pakistan during the forthcomming election year in the country . The situation is complex and it will not have a simple solution . The international community will not remain a silent spectater and will always come forward to help the secular , liberal forces and army if required . This war will only halt when there will be emergence of a new face of Islam .

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