Former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif has been invited to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos to talk about Pakistan’s successes in battling terrorism. This would be the first time that a former army chief of Pakistan has been invited to speak at the WEF. Sharif will be talking about terrorism in the digital age and global security challenges, while according to some reports, he is also expected to discuss Chinese development projects in Pakistan under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. More than 2,500 participants from nearly 100 countries will meet and participate at the forum, where on Pakistan’s front Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be in attendance along with several state ministers and filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. This will be an excellent opportunity for Pakistan’s representatives to interact and present the country’s perspective to the world, especially its challenges as a state battling extremism. We hope that the case Pakistan makes here helps gain global support for the country’s struggle towards peace. Pakistan’s performance in battling terrorism post the Army Public School attack in 2014 is recognised both at home and abroad. Terrorist attacks have substantially reduced but of course, things are not well by any standard. The events in Balochistan in the past few months are evidence enough that the country and its people are far from safe.
Pakistan may have some tough questions to answer then. It has long been seen by many countries as a state that has harboured terrorist groups. Moreover, if the current spate of activists and writers going ‘missing’ continues and the ones ‘missing’ not recovered, Pakistan will have even tougher questions to answer at the international forum. Already many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have expressed their concerns on the matter. Particularly when talking about terrorism in the digital world, Pakistan will have to explain how extremist groups can operate freely online, while anyone expressing secular, liberal thoughts fears death by extremists or state oppression. Pakistan will need to clean up its reputation both in words and actions.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2017.
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