Fighting Terrorism
By Hasaan Saeed

December 15, 2009

Pakistan is confronted with the challenge of fighting terrorism and extremism. First it should b e made clear what the difference is between terrorism and extremism now days. Extremism is a term related to “religious extremists”. They are supposed to be the thinkers and the political influence in bringing about the terror. While spreading terror, they cover it up by justifying it as a righteous “religious activity”. These extremists think in a very extreme way! However, the people who carry out their plans and are directly in the line of action at how their thinking should be implemented are terrorists. So it is not always necessary that an extremist is a terrorist.

Terrorism has no relation with Islam as Islam is a religion of peace, harmony and love while terrorism is the enemy of humanity. The whole Pakistani nation stands against extremists and they will be eliminated from the country soon. Pakistan was a business-friendly country and it provided the best possible facilities to investors.

Terrorism is a very broad term. It cannot be categorized from an international point of view. Terrorists will be those people who bring terror to anyone. In a more elaborated manner, this can be said that Al-Qaeda are terrorists for United States of America, however, hypothetically speaking, if you look at from Al-Qaeda’s point of view, then USA would also be terrorists for them. So the point lies on who is trying to initiate the damage through terrorism. Right now it is Al-Qaeda and the Taliban who have lost control and trying to spread terrorism around the world. What they are doing is not anything related to religion. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda are trying to attempt to hide their barbaric acts from the public and issuing statements to that effect saying that this is a war against non Muslims etc. There is no justification to this statement as no one can put them in charge on deciding who should live and who should not live just on the basis of religion. Furthermore, no one can put them in charge of deciding who is a good Muslim, bad Muslim or a non Muslim worth killing.

So carrying this thought process, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda had started terrorist activities directly in Pakistan. Initially they wanted to take over the entire valley of Swat which is situated in the North West Frontier of Pakistan. As a result the Pakistani army was ordered to carry out an operation to drive them out of the beautiful snow capped mountains containing valley of Swat. This lead to a lot of internally displaced people as they were forced to evacuate their home and cities because of the war against terror that Pakistan was fighting.

Though the main characters behind the devastation are yet to be brought to justice, people in Swat feel secured after the two years military action against the militants in the valley.

The forces launched operation in Swat on November 24, 2007 but the militants were actually routed from the valley during operation “Rah-i-Rast” launched on May 8, 2009.

Nobody thought a year ago that peace would return to the area as the militants were virtually ruling the valley at that time. Most of the Swatis want the fugitive chief of the banned “Tehrik-e-Taliban” Pakistan (which caused all the problems), Fazlullah, to be punished for his crimes against humanity.

The security forces killed more than 2,000 militants in the valley. During the two years, 550 soldiers and officers of the army sacrificed their lives in pitched battles with the militants while more than 1,500 personnel sustained injuries in the ongoing operation “Rah-i-Rast”.

During militant attacks and exchange of fire, around 200 policemen of the Frontier Police lost their lives and 300 suffered injuries during the last two years. Besides the security forces and police causalities, more than 2,100 civilians were killed and over 3,000 wounded in the bomb blasts, target killings and shelling. The militants carried out 26 suicide attacks and 350 blasts of improvised explosives devices.

The militants destroyed or partially damaged around 400 schools in the Malakand region besides blowing up 140 video shops, 66 barbershops and 90 bridges. During the destruction spree, the militants did not spare basic health units, grid stations and gas plants that were also damaged with bombs. The militants blew up more than 28 police pickets and four police stations.

More than 80 persons were kidnapped and made hostage by the militants in the valley. The security forces arrested 2,000 suspected militants in the military action. Majority of the 2.4 million displaced people from Malakand division belonged to Swat. They were asked to leave their homes to allow the security forces purge the valley of militants as mentioned earlier.

The security forces, however, achieved the victory at a fast pace and not only cleared Swat of militants but also repatriated 95 per cent of the IDPs. Swat has been peaceful for the last three months now, as no violence took place.

Though a survey has been launched to assess damages, the reconstruction of the government and private properties is yet to start in the affected areas. Many of the affected families who had lost the near and dear ones in the Swat violence have not been compensated yet for the human and material losses they suffered.

All of this information reveals one simple picture. That Pakistan is the country which is directly and mostly being affected by terrorism and that Pakistan is the country which is fighting terrorism and handling situations as it should be done and no one can question about it.

Pakistan and the Pakistan army are successfully fighting off terrorism till date and this fact should be acknowledged by the world. One way of causing awareness is by the media. If the media can help focus on the accomplishments of the security forces in Pakistan and spread awareness, it can be a very positive and optimistic move and also demoralizing for the terrorists. A simple example is of the fact that when there is a bomb blast at a security check post, the media instead of focusing on how many casualties it caused, and how bad the situation is, if they focus on the fact that the check post actually helped save many more innocent lives while standing in the line of fire. In short, the media can mention how the blast at the security check post actually helped save innocent lives which would have been lost if the blast would have been someplace else. This means that the security forces in Pakistan are actually putting their lives on the line literally to eradicate terrorism. This fact needs to be spread around the world so that it can be acknowledged and appreciated by the world today. The media is a good medium to start this as it is very influential in the international circuit and it can get the message across to a large extend easily. This is one way how we can show our appreciation and acknowledge the steps taken to fight terrorism in Pakistan. If there is a sense of collectivism and optimistic nature in the country, then who knows what we can achieve further. Therefore the media can help the people of Pakistan as a medium to cry out to anyone who has different viewpoints about Pakistan as a nation.

We can start fighting terrorism as individuals also if the media is with us to spread the word. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was alone when he started, Mohammad Ben Qasim was one man who made a difference, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was also one individual who made a difference, and therefore one man can make a difference. The only issue is the approach towards making the difference, and I believe the media can really help for the betterment of the cause of fighting terrorism. Bearing this in mind, collectively nothing would be impossible.

Sources: Dailytimes, The News, The Nation and Dawn News

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