Is the government looking for a black cat in a dark room? So questioned PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani in the Senate in its April 22 session. The context of this pithy and pointed query was a heated debate on the government’s perceived reluctance to take action against militants despite unabated assaults on security outfits. The senator was particularly piqued by a government official’s response to the recent attacks on the police in Charsadda and Peshawar. The official is reported to have said that no action could be taken since no one had taken responsibility for the attacks! Mr Rabbani turned the logic on its head by wondering aloud if the government will keep waiting for claims to emerge from non-state actors before swinging into action.
To a degree, we can understand how constrained the government must be feeling when it comes to handling the aftermath of the deadly violence perpetrated by the very people it wants to strike a peace deal with. But as the process of dialogue — some call it a charade or a circus — drags on with no tangible results in sight, it is pertinent to remind the government of its own declaration after the last civil-military huddle: while they will still give peace a chance, they will not tolerate attacks on law-enforcement agencies anymore and answer them with the use of force.
The critics are now asking whatever happened of that resolve. On the other hand, it has been said that some of the atrocities mounted when the talks were in progress were the work of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan splinter groups not in control of the umbrella organisation. If that is the case, one wonders what is the utility of holding dialogue with a group that appears to be in complete disarray? Those dead against the dialogue process argue that this is an opportune moment to strike rather than negotiate.
Without going into the merit of this line of thinking, we would advise the government to fashion a carefully choreographed strategy to tackle the monster called terrorism — which is fast causing the country to bleed dry. It has taken too big a toll on the nation for the government to show complacency.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2014.
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