Saturday June 15, 2024

Curbing terrorism

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
December 22, 2017

The attack on a church located inside the high security zone of Quetta has resulted in mourning and condemnation. This incident is one in a series of ongoing attacks against non-Muslim minorities. In the past, a large number of Christian homes were set on fire in Gojra and many Hindu temples were damaged in response to the Babri Masjid incident.

The Quetta tragedy reminded me of a similar attack on a church in Peshawar. The Supreme Court, taking suo-motu action, asked me to share the problems faced by minorities living across the country. I informed the honourable court that the presence of hate material in the curriculum of educational institutes is the root cause of the intolerance against minorities. Similarly, the dream of a peaceful society cannot be fulfilled in the absence of a security plan for minorities’ holy places. My point of view is reflected in the detailed decision of the Supreme Court given on June 19, 2014. Unfortunately, neither has offensive hate material been deleted from curricula nor has a security plan for the protection of holy places been implemented to date. It has also been observed that the families of victims of attacks fail to receive financial support even after waiting for several years.

After the barbaric attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, all political parties, despite their differences, came together to prepare a concrete strategy for curbing terrorism. Regrettably, the CCTV footage of the Quetta attack is proof that the Supreme Court’s June 19 decision and the National Action Plan both still need to be implemented. The recent attack also puts a question mark on the performance of our security authorities. This Christmas, ensuring foolproof security of all churches must be our top priority.

Quaid-e-Azam’s vision of an independent Pakistan demands every citizen to play an active role in national progress. According to various survey reports, the majority of the Pakistani people hold positive views towards religion. In this regard, it is the responsibility of all religious leaders to highlight that all religions are respectable equally and that attacks on worship places cannot ever be justified. The terrorists try to deliver the message that there is no space for non-Muslims in Pakistan. All peace-loving schools of thought must join hands to reject the extremist ideologies that terrorists wish to enforce on Pakistani society.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, in its report on Pakistani public schools, says that school teachers have a rather limited understanding of religious minorities and their beliefs. It is unfortunate that they also manage to transfer their biased views to the younger generation. On an ideological front, we need to review school curricula on an urgent basis. We need to create awareness among the people that Pakistan was created to provide equal rights to every citizen, regardless of religious affiliations.

After every tragic incident, it seems to have become national practice to blame foreign hands. We must not forget that foreign elements are helpless without internal support. We must eliminate the black sheep among our own ranks which are harming national integrity just for their personal interests. While the US managed to thwart terror incidents after 9/11, the Pakistani nation is still a victim of terrorism. It is very painful when the international community ignores all our sacrifices and tries to link Pakistan with terrorism.

Traditionally, the people of Pakistan have had a strong bond with the Afghan people. Pakistan has always supported Afghanistan. On the diplomatic front, Pakistan must convince the Afghan government that cordial relations between the neighbouring countries are essential for regional peace and stability. According to my information, countering terrorism has been on the international agenda since 1934 and there are as many as 15 international conventions in force.

The issue of terrorism has been discussed many times in the UN meetings. If there is strong evidence regarding use of Afghan soil against Pakistan, we must take the Afghan leadership, friendly countries and the international community into confidence to raise the issue at the proper forum. We must also continue efforts for a joint, effective and integrated Pak-Afghan border management system.

The valuable experience of other countries that were once victims of terrorism can also be beneficial for us. In modern history, the European Union, the UK and Sri Lanka are success stories in curbing terrorism. Today, we need to show unity on the same pattern as we did after the Army Public School attack. History will never forgive us if we keep ourselves stuck in condemnations and fail to take solid steps for the implementation of the Supreme Court’s June 19 decision and the National Action Plan.

The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of thePakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani