The causes of upsurge of violence in Pakistan are multi-dimensional. Economic disparity between the rich and the poor, religious fanaticism and inadequate government response are the three main reasons, which are aggravating terrorism in the country.
Economic disparity between the rich and the poor has assumed new heights. The rich in Pakistan are an asset as they contribute towards the betterment of the economy but the culture of display of wealth is causing hatred and consternation among the not-so-fortunate and the poor. Landlords exploit farmers and factory owners are unfair towards their workers. These two categories are not benefiting from our labour and social security laws due to the manipulation of terms of service by the employers. In our country, the concept of private entrepreneurship has been thoroughly corrupted in the absence of strict punishments for violation of corporate laws.
The economic situation in the country is not likely to improve in the near future. In fact, it will get worse as we approach the IMF for a bailout. The poor will have to tighten their belts further. They are likely to revolt against the system and resort to bank robberies, abduction for ransom, extortion and consequently, targeted killings — all acts which the government categorises as terrorism. The rich should help the poor by establishing cottage industries and offering financial help to help them start up small businesses.
On the issue of religious fanaticism, I believe there are extraneous factors, which are fanning inter-sectarian hatred. There is no such tension in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia or even Indian-held Kashmir, which has both, a large Shia and Sunni population. Spiritual leaders and ulema in both sects are doing an admirable job of creating amity. Our intelligence agencies should be on the lookout to identify the saboteurs and provocateurs and bring them to justice. Indoctrination should be combined with adroit use of force. Religious antagonism has to be handled with care as the motivations for extreme acts like suicide bombings, however misplaced, are very strong; the economic factor being one of them. Hate material published by either side against each other’s beliefs is adding fuel to fire. Production and distribution of such material should be made a cognisable offence, warranting exemplary punishment.
Inadequacy of the government is the third dimension of this malaise. The public and the media are putting the entire blame of the present scenario on the agencies; some are even accusing them of being a party to the problem, which is absolutely rubbish. Intelligence agencies like the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau and the Special Branch are effective resources provided to the government.
In my personal opinion, they are not getting the desired allocations for carrying out their operations. The establishment cost of these institutions is always a fraction of the requirement for conducting operations. I am sure, given the resources, our agencies are second to none. Here, I would suggest we create a homeland security organisation. Manpower for this organisation should be provided by the army in the category of reservists and retired officers and men. This large trained manpower can easily take charge of the situation in the shortest possible time. To sort out the present grave law and order mayhem in the country, we need immediate practical measures to fight terrorism and bring back peace alongside security of life and property.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2013.
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