By Alam Rind
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
There is no doubt that we are at war. A war which is no more confined to the borders. Rather, it has altered its form to accommodate the fragile nuclear hangover prevailing in the subcontinent. In this war soldiers, civilians, women and children are being targeted by terrorists without discrimination. Religious scholars have already declared them non-Muslims. In such a changed environment the nation has to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with its security forces in every nook and corner of the country.
The terrorists have a well established network, which includes a large pool of trained manpower, a huge stockpile of explosives and multiple teams of experts to identify potential targets. How they can manage all this? Why people don't report their presence? And what people should do to protect themselves? These important questions need to be answered.
Absence of jobs, exploitation, persistent poverty and a general apathy towards the state of affair of the deprived segments have become accepted norms. This indifference breeds loss of hope. Poverty-stricken segments become easy prey for terrorist outfits, especially since the outfits are guised as religious and philanthropic organisations. Sending their sons to religious seminaries persuades them that their offspring are acquiring religious education. This provides an opportunity to their spurious religious teachers to indoctrinate them. Through their deceitful teachings they prime such youths to be used as suicidal bombers. According to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, suicide bombers are available for between Rs500,000 and Rs1,500,000. What a pity, our youth is being used by our enemies against us.
Is it really difficult for us to check the spread of hate through religious seminaries? Certainly not. Only thing we need to do is to keep a close watch on what is being taught there, have greater interaction with our children and to closely monitor people visiting and staying at such institutions. We must report any unusual activity to the law enforcing agencies.
Terrorist safe heavens are not confined to religious seminaries. Now the terrorists have been able to fan out to less conspicuous places. The evidence is that large chunks of explosives have already been dumped at different locations. Probably it is beyond the capabilities of the law enforcing agencies to be able to spot all such sites. But the custodians of such sites would behave in abnormal manner, like disallowing acquaintances to visit their residencies, shops and warehouses, minimising their interaction with the local community and being visited by strangers at odd timings. Such activities can only be monitored by locals through establishing close interaction with each other. To institutionalise the whole process village and mohalla committees can be constituted having liaison with law enforcing agencies. The initiative for the formation of such committees has to be taken by the people themselves.
The war has changed its form. It is being perpetrated by our enemies, the powers that want to see Pakistan weak, denuclearised and, if possible, undone. With the changed modus operandi the country is being weakened from within through terrorist activities. Therefore, the method of combating the activities has to be re-tailored. The presence of disguised enemies in our ranks and files demands greater cohesion between civilians and the law enforcing agencies. We need to be fully conscious of the urgency of the situation and the pressing requirement to take immediate actions.
The best way forward is mobilising and empowering people. They should be mobilised to constitute committees at the level of villages, mohallas, shopping centres, towns and cities, and in remote areas, to monitor unusual activities while having communication with police for quick response. Service providers like property agents, transporters and taxi drivers need to be very careful so as not to be deceived by the terrorists.
Besides this, every Pakistani must take the responsibility of being vigilant all the time and to report any unusual activity as soon as it is observed. In the short term, the government should start an awareness campaign to educate people as to how they should fight this menace. In the long term, there is dire need to invest in education, especially targeting underdeveloped areas and initiate projects aimed at sustained development and poverty reduction to improve living conditions of the deprived sections of the society.
The writer is a freelance contributor.
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