Lack of strategy or lack of will?

Establishment, political parties and the extremists

The resolve shown in a civil-military huddle to bring the killers of Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara Diyawadanage to justice would be widely welcomed. Hopefully a foolproof case will be prepared against those who incited the mob to kill an innocent man and those who took part   in the gruesome act. Unless the vigilantes involved are duly punished, it will encourage militant extremists in the country to launch more attacks of the type.

Those responsible for the county’s security have let extremist tendencies spread and extremist networks consolidate. The situation has reached a point where Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had to concede that “Neither the government nor the state is completely ready to fight extremism.” Mr Chaudhry held state institutions responsible for unbridled extremism in the country remarking that “Some 30 years ago, on the basis of political and external reasons, we created an element and as a result Pakistan is facing a big threat.” Many think the patronization of extremist groups has continued with the aim to control out-of-favour political parties and get desirable election results.

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The expression of resolve to bring Kumara’s killers to justice is not enough. Nor is the promise to devise a comprehensive strategy to curb such incidents. Promises   sound hollow when repeated again and again with no follow up in sight. Many believe that before devising a new strategy the government should strictly implement the 20 point National Action Plan (NAP) which was devised through a national consensus. Had successive governments been helped to implement the plan, this would have effectively discouraged the emergence of violent extremist networks and contributed to making Pakistan a more tolerant society.

There is a need to urgently begin enforcing the NAP. Equally important is for all parties to enlighten those among their rank and file who possess a soft corner for the extremists about the damage the later cause to the country’s security. A few days back instead of condemning the attack in Sialkot, Federal Minister Pervez Khatak had trivialised the issue through remarks like “When children … grow up, they become spirited and do things out of emotions.” There is a need not only for the PTI but other political parties also to sensitize their followers on the dangers posed by extremism.

Editorial
The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]

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