WEB DESK: As if the massacre in Lahore on Easter Sunday has revived the pain and anguish of barbaric attack on the Army Public School Peshawar, there is a flurry of commitments and actions to take the terrorist outfits head on and give them the final battle. Within less than a day of the Lahore tragedy, the paramilitary forces were out in the field against terrorists and their facilitators throughout Punjab. And Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif cancelled an important foreign visit and addressed the nation, assuring the victims’ families that he was with them in the hour of their immense grief.
A visibly shaken but determined prime minister pledged, “we are counting every drop of the blood (spilled on the lush green grass of Gulshan Iqbal Park) and will make the terrorists accountable for it”. His speech on that fateful incident was brief but amply suggestive of his mind that delaying a full-fledged anti-terrorist paramilitary operation in Punjab was no more a policy option. In fact, by the time he was addressing, a crackdown on terrorist hideouts was already in progress. In intelligence-based operations carried out by Army and Rangers in Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan, a number of terrorists and their facilitators were arrested and huge catches of arms and ammunition were recovered.
The decision to launch a full-scale paramilitary operation was in fact taken within hours of the park carnage, and the prime minister hinted at this development by saying that ‘clear instructions to the law enforcement forces’ to bring terrorists to justice have already been issued. He also stated that the government is ‘reviewing’ steps that are needed to be taken for wiping out terrorists. Perhaps, in the absence of legal cover required to call in the armed forces in aid of civil administration, yet to be issued, the prime minister could say only this much.
Of course, almost simultaneous to induction of the Rangers into the Karachi imbroglio, the paramilitary forces should have been called in Punjab also. In fact, as the Operation Zarb-e-Azb progressed in tribal areas, the militants who originated locally were either killed or fled to Afghanistan, but those from Punjab returned to their home bases. If there was some semblance of peace on their part, it was only because they needed to rest and to recoup, and not that they were going to give up on their preoccupation with fomenting trouble and violence in Punjab. In fact, their appetite for innocent blood sharpened as they moved a step forward and embraced the ideology of the IS.
The government in Lahore mistook their inactivity as a ‘friendly’ gesture and acted in a nonchalant manner about them. But to many, in the political opposition, and those from Sindh, the Punjab government’s nonchalance about terrorist outfits was as much a proof of ‘collusion’ with the terrorists, as was the fear of Rangers who act both as law-enforcement force and investigating agency in corruption cases in Sindh. Is there the possibility now that Rangers and other paramilitary elements have been deployed in Punjab they would also go after the corrupt? That they will; it is too early to make such a prediction, but over time, refusing to undertake this role, may become problematic for the military establishment.
Rightly then, some people are disappointed over the prime minister’s oblique hint of stand-off at the D-Chowk. Mumtaz Qadri’s supporters may not be exploding bombs but their menacing presence in the Red Zone was no less harmful to the national interest and the country’s image. Their lingering presence at the capital’s nerve centre tended to suggest inability, if not imbecility, on the part of the administration to secure the nation’s capital against violence and carnage.
Source: Business Recorder