Carnage at Charsadda varsity


WEB DESK: The terrorist strike on the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda is a horrific reminder of the fact that despite the successes of the Zarb-e-Azb the war against terrorism is far from being won. Like the Army Public School in Peshawar, militants stormed an educational institution and cut short 20 lives, among them 18 students and two members of the teaching staff.

The terrorists using religion for the furtherance of their agenda have demonstrated once again that they have no qualms about killing innocent Muslims. So many families have been left mourning the loss of their young. The death toll would have been higher had the response of the university administration and the security forces been not so quick. Apparently, it was in view of the security alert that as many as 53 guards were present at the main university entrance who took on the attackers, managing to engage them until first the police arrived and later security forces came from Peshawar and killed all the four terrorists.

The attackers, like in the case of APS, came from Afghanistan. Reports hint at the involvement of rogue elements within the Afghan spy agency, NDS, as well as another neighbouring country. Any foreign linkage remains to be established. Even if a foreign hand is involved, those who carried out the atrocity are Pakistanis. Hence that is where attention needs to be focused. A TTP group headed by Omer Mansoor, formerly of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, operating from the Afghan province of Nangarhar, claimed responsibility for the carnage.

Notably, earlier this month Pakistan’s Jalalabad consulate also came under terrorist attack in the same province, where many of the TTP militants have taken refuge. ISPR spokesman Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa told a press conference that intelligence picture of the identity of the terrorists has been prepared, and that information about them, their handlers in Afghanistan and locations has also been collected to nab the attackers’ accomplices. Hopefully, aside from catching terrorist facilitators at home, Kabul’s cooperation is also being sought to eliminate TTP sanctuaries from the Afghan soil.

Within the domestic context, mere fire-fighting will not be enough. This war requires both short and long-term preventive measures. For the short-run, the security forces are already carrying out intelligence-based operations in different parts of the country against supporters and facilitators of violent extremists. But not much is happening by way of getting rid of the extremist mindset. Unfortunately, however, the government is yet to fulfil its part of the responsibilities. The much talked about National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) is still not functional. More important than that, as Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan recently admitted, progress on five of the 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) is slow; one of which is preventing proscribed organisations from re-emerging under new names.

Although he claimed action against illegal madressahs and terror financing is being pursued aggressively, there is little tangible evidence of that being done. The government is yet to undertake meaningful reform of madressahs. The minister himself indirectly acknowledged the lapse when he said getting rid of illegal madressahs was not an easy task, and that he needed across-the-board political support for it. Chaudhry Nisar, in fact, seems to have a soft spot for the seminaries since he keeps saying that majority of the seminaries are not involved in anti-state activities. Not all may be implicated, but there is no denying that the kind of education they impart has a significant role to play in creating the extremist mindset.

Then there is the issue of school curricula introduced by the Zia regime that inculcate intolerance and bigotry in young minds. It is about time the government gets its act together and effectively implements all the 20 NAP points, and also undertakes a comprehensive reform of what is taught in madressahs as well as mainstream public school system. Unless and until it delivers on its part of the responsibilities, terrorism will remain a clear and present danger for this state and society.

Source: Business Recorder