The battle ahead
Thursday, 10 Dec, 2009
The Taliban’s claim that their fight lies solely with Pakistan’s security apparatus is a pack of lies. Hundreds of civilians, including children, have been slaughtered in recent months and the toll is expected to rise now that the militants are being driven back by the military.
As a result the Taliban have resorted, more than ever, to terrorising the public at large by attacking bazaars, shopping plazas and mosques. Tragic as this state of affairs might be, it is encouraging that both the government and the armed forces have made it clear that their intention to break the back of the Taliban will not be swayed by the militants’ policy of mass murder. On the whole, the Pakistani public also seems to realise that this enemy within that seeks to destroy our way of life must be neutralised sooner than later.
That said, it is obvious that symbols of the state remain very much in the crosshairs. The GHQ itself has been held hostage by the Taliban. A police training centre in Lahore has been overrun by gunmen, twice. The ISI’s ostensibly incognito offices have been targeted on at least three occasions, the most recent incident being the bombing in Multan on Tuesday.
True, everyone acknowledges that it is next to impossible to stop suicide bombers once they have embarked on their mission. But surely the level of vigilance at key installations can be upgraded to protect the lives of both civilians and security personnel. The country’s intelligence agencies must also reassess their responsibilities and focus single-mindedly on thwarting suicide attacks before they happen. At the same time, a case can be made for moving the offices of vulnerable state agencies out of densely populated areas to minimise losses in the event of an assault.
Lastly, it is shocking that Pakistan’s religious parties have failed to condemn suicide bombings in one voice and without qualifiers that suggest they might be permissible in certain situations. The people of Pakistan do not support the Taliban. If the sympathies of our religio-political parties lie with the militants, they should have the courage to say so without mincing words.
Hmmmm... and what are the chances of that ever happening? Such an admission would be tantamount to a declaration of war with the West. And at that point, the gloves would finally come off in earnest. The West is only sparring with the Taliban and al Qaeda at present. Like any good fighter, they are waiting, watching, learning their opponent's tactics, his moves, his reactions. They are looking for the optimum moment and place(s) to deliver the most punishing blow(s).
This is still only round 1 of this fight, boys and girls...