A letter, of sorts

PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif dispatched a letter to Prime Minister Gilani before departing for London. The letter was written in view of the upcoming all-parties national conference on terrorism. Mr Sharif has given some suggestions to the prime minister on how to make the most of the proposed moot and what initiatives should be taken before the conference is called. He stressed that Prime Minister Gilani should hold meetings with the provincial governments, armed forces and intelligence agencies before convening a national conference to chalk out a strategy to counter terrorism in the country. In a welcome move, the PML-N chief has assured Mr Gilani of his party’s support in rooting out terrorism from our soil. It is good to know that despite how his party is being dubbed as being ‘soft’ on terrorists, Mr Sharif has expressed his solidarity with the government and people and recognised that this is a national war and needs a concerted effort on the part of all players involved.

Those who say that this war is not ours need to look closely at who has really borne the brunt of these terrorist attacks. The blood of innocent civilians and security personnel is on the hands of these terrorists and their apologists should be ashamed of themselves for indirectly justifying this loss of lives. Thus the suggestion by some political leaders, including Mian Nawaz Sharif, and other important officials, that Pakistan should hold talks with the militants just like the Americans are doing in Afghanistan must be treated with a healthy dose of scepticism. In a briefing to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, Director General ISI, Lieutenant-General Shuja Pasha, opined that Pakistan should consider making changes in its national security strategy because of the change in the US’s Afghan policy. It has to be understood that there is a great difference between what is going on in Afghanistan and our local situation. The Americans are losing the war in Afghanistan militarily and want an ‘honourable’ exit after a political settlement. The US’s domestic support for this war has also waned, thus there is a rethink in American policy. But in Pakistan’s case, neither are we militarily losing this war against the terrorists, nor can we ‘exit’ from our own land. Our army has been quite successful in giving a bloody nose to the terrorists in recent months. An escalation in terrorist attacks against civilians is an indication of the frustration level of the terrorists. This is no time to give up our war strategy. In fact, we need to pursue these monsters and eradicate them. By giving in to the terrorists, we would be handing over our state to them on a silver platter. We have to understand the enormity of the threat the terrorists pose to the Pakistani state. There is a nexus between the TTP and other groups that were nurtured by the state for decades in an attempt to play some kind of ‘regional’ role. These groups are now out of control and have not even shirked from attacking their mentors’ abode, the GHQ.

Reports that the army is unhappy about the Punjab government’s allegations about lack of cooperation from the intelligence agencies are also quite worrying. Reportedly, the army officials have said that intelligence was given to the Punjab government but no action was taken. It indicates the hangover of the PML-N’s attitude of being soft on terrorists. Now is not the time to play games. To cling to the ‘good Taliban, bad Taliban’ distinction is a recipe for disaster. To save Pakistan, we must fight them till the bloody end!

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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