March 2016, brought unbearable pain to the citizens of Pakistan where over 100 people fell victim to terrorism. It has been over a decade since the country is synonymous with terrorism and religious intolerance. All of this has brought in bad name to otherwise a nation that is rich in culture and is a divine hub of hospitality. Unfortunately, Pakistan stuck in over a decade-long American war has won little but lost 2,1075 civilians and 6,453 security personnel.
As per the notification by Intelligence Bureau (IB), possible terrorism activities were informed in Lahore for the month of March particularly referring to the public places. Therefore, strict security measures were advised, but the Punjab police failed on all fronts, and the city saw 75 people dead and over 300 injured because of the several suicide blasts at the Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park. This was a major incident again questioning the National Action Plan (NAP) initiated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in January 2015. Since the implementation of the plan last year, Pakistan has fell victim to Karachi Bus Attack claiming 45 lives of Ismaili Shia Muslim minority, Youhanabad incident that killed 14 Christians, Bacha Khan University attack that left at leats two dozen dead and the recent attack on Easter Sunday. All this excludes the regular terrorist activities in the troublesome northern part of Pakistan.
Are we really safe? Did the National Action Plan work?
These are pressing questions in the minds and the hearts of 200 million Pakistanis that have lost over 1,100 fellow citizens in various terrorism-related incidents since January 2015.
In reality, NAP has neither eliminated nor controlled major terrorist activities. However, it has fueled greater religious intolerance by out and out targeting seminaries and widen the opinion gap between different sections of the society by mismanagement of religious extremism. One excellent example is the Mumtaz Qadri episode. His sudden hanging sparked violence and turned the followers of certain (not all) Islamic organisations against the establishment and damaged the overall image of Pakistan. The outside world labeled the country as extremists and terror propelling. The Islamabad siege that many called was the most terrible of situations one can dream of, but it was a live reality for several days where people barged in the red zone just wanting the government to declare him as a martyr.
It was like Mumtaz Qadri was on the heaven’s door, and God just wanted the government’s NOC for him to enter.
Anyone in their right minds would term it as ridiculous, and the federal government’s handling was at its absolute worse. The Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar was clueless to the points drafted by the UP leader Shah Owais Noorani, Tehreek-e–Labaik-Ya-Rasool Allah Chairman Dr Asif Ashraf Jalali, Sunni Tehreek Chairman Sarwat Ejaz Qadri, Allama Haji Rafeeq Pardesi, Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) Chairman Hamid Raza and Afzal Qadri that represented the protestors in the negotiations. The fact that thousands of demonstrators entered the red zone was mindboggling. The capital police and other law enforcers failed to safeguard the areas that are otherwise portrayed as the safest in Pakistan. One very shocking point was to exile all Ahmadis from Pakistan, which was very disappointing. Why do we not invite them to the right path if we so think they are wrong, work with them and by our actions influence them to do right. Instead of being bigots and intolerant lunatics that we are all fed up of dealing with!
Chaudhry Nisar, who holds Islamabad so dear to himself, should have foreseen this coming and planned a comprehensive strategy to settle the issue without it escalating to a humiliating level for the entire nation. We and even those who we have entrusted to run the country are so ignorant that the only time to react or get anything done is when we know, Oh Shit! We are in a complete pit. We only plan out talks when we learn that force is not helping us, this is where everything goes wrong.
The NAP has to be re-addressed, and its implementation should be made public by making it mandatory to discuss at every National Assembly session. We need to have a plan that eliminates outsiders that are eating our country and to re-integrate our own that have somehow slipped to the evil. The steps of today will be the future of our children, to think that one can escape from all the hate and bigotry by confining themselves and their families to an elite way of lifestyle is the same thought which will turn Pakistan into Syria very soon. Our enemies will become so strong because of our internal rifts that we will be left with nothing but grief.
The above statement also highlights the growing tensions between Pakistan and India. The RAW influx in Balochistan and the Phatankot incident that the rival has been blaming on Pakistan. In regards to the RAW involvement, the external affairs ministry of India has already made its position very clear by stating that Yadav has no links with the Government since his premature retirement from Indian Navy. However, they have accepted that the captured personnel is an Indian and anyone in their right mind would know that no one risks their lives for nothing. While India has been caught red handed it continues to blame Pakistan for terrorist activity in their country. The Phatankot incident’s chief investigator officer was murdered few days ago raising fingers on India for hiding information. The Pakistan’s investigation team that went to India have been given little access to solve the puzzle, but security analysts term the incident and many other in the past and the future as a preplanned Indian strategy to launch a small-scale war destroying the integrity of Pakistan and ultimately securing its position on Kashmir.
The country saw once positive last month, which was the visit of Iranian President, Dr. Hassan Rouhani. Pakistan’s ever strong relationship with China is a plus, but the country also needs to strengthen strategic ties with Afghanistan and Iran. India is always an iffy game, one that has never settled down. However, the biggest challenge remains the internal social, political and religious issues that have not left Pakistan since the blessings of General Zia Ul Haq.