In the seventh decade of its independence, our homeland faces an array of challenges. These include an inequitable economic system, ineffective governance, an inefficient modus operandi for government accountability and transparency and structural inefficiencies in government mechanisms.
Nevertheless, the challenge of radicalisation remains the end product of various forms of deprivation that have posed a threat to the country’s well-being.
Extremism or radicalisation emerges when the noetic structures of individuals are altered by those who are proponents of terror and mischief. Be it the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Isis in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Africa or a multitude of other tagged and not ‘formally tagged’ factions across the globe, all these groups are the seeds of this mindset.
On a global level, extremism stands a grave threat and its elimination calls for the dire attention of state pillars. Battling extremism through the war on terror and military operations have been successful to some extent. However, these solutions have resulted in collateral damage.
Treating extremism through the use of force is synonymous to treating the unpleasant symptoms of a disease in its last stage rather than addressing the underlying cause. While I won’t oppose the use of the aforesaid at a time when it becomes inevitable, there was a time when the paradigm of global as well as Pakistan’s state pillars in eliminating extremism needed to entirely focus on confronting mindsets, vulnerabilities and the resulting vacuum that extremism has filled today. Nonetheless, it is better late than never.
The question that we need to ponder is: what is the level of seriousness in the power corridors to eliminate the vulnerabilities and fill the vacuum through the structural reform of state institutions and justice systems, the equitable distribution of resources, weakening the sectarian and ethnic divide and promoting a tolerant mindset?
At a time of crisis, the stance of political powers is ideally a ray of hope for the hoi polloi. Following the barbaric APS attack, we witnessed the unanimous adoption of the National Action Plan. As a result, a number of steps were agreed upon for immediate execution by all stakeholders. While some of it has already begun, there doesn’t seem to be any productive strategy in practice or even in the making to confront the mindsets and the vulnerabilities that create a vacuum for extremism.
In a democratic state, a parliament defines and eventually strengthens the autonomy and sovereignty of state institutions to maximise utility creation and deliverance to the people. In Pakistan, the legislation governing the mechanisms of state institutions and regulatory authorities is outdated due to which state institutions are unable to deliver as per their conceptualised mandates. This has ultimately translated into inefficient governance.
Justice systems are ideally a ray of hope for people who have fallen prey to vices in society. Inefficient justice delivery mechanisms naturally push helplessness towards a point where revolt becomes inevitable. It grieves me to say that the tribal areas have remained a stronghold of terrorist factions since 9/11.
Owing to Article 247 of the constitution, which bars Fata residents from approaching a court of law, we are effectively denying the right to justice to our fellow countrymen who have remained this country’s shields in the war against terror. The denial of the right to justice is in contravention to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which came into existence as a result of the lessons learned during World War II. Isn’t a vacuum being created over here as well?
The education system – which serves as a tool for the gradual yet permanent filtration of a society’s vices through awareness and tolerance –has received little focus. On a similar note, how content are the nationalist and minority factions under the existing regime in terms of resource distribution, protection and grievance redressal? Is the role of the federation actually being played?
What is the obstacle in the way of the incumbent government in battling extremism through measures that are within their control? Is it a lack of political will?
Unless we aim to take the issue seriously, it will take very little for the vulnerabilities to turn sharp minds into sharp shooters and our security apparatus, people and all factions of society will continue to remain frequent victims of terrorist attacks with no ulterior motives.
The writer is a chartered accountant.