While so many acts of terrorism have taken place on Pakistani soil in recent years, killing hundreds of people, including innocent school children, the recent terrorist attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi is a wake-up call, indicating that the Pakistan government cannot fail any more to tackle this grave menace, which is threatening the country’s stability and creating deep frustration among its people.
Due to repeated acts of terrorism on Pakistani soil, the world now views Pakistan as a country where terrorists have a free run and the government is unable to wipe them out.
Nothing can be more humiliating for any country than a situation when most countries in the world refuse to send their sportsmen to play in Pakistan, fearing a terrorist attack. Pakistan is now facing an unenviable situation where their cricketers have to go to another country, like the UAE, to play their matches against overseas teams. Certainly, Pakistanis living in Pakistan and other countries must feel sad about such a sorry state of affairs.
Whether the Pakistan government admits it or not, the fact is that Islamic religious groups with extreme ideas are using Pakistan as a springboard to enforce their ideas, adopting violence as a way of life. Obviously, such extremist groups are not numerically large, compared to the country’s overall population, and large section of citizens of Pakistan do not approve of them.
While Pakistan’s government has repeatedly asserted that it is fighting terrorism on its soil and chiefs of army staff in Pakistan earlier promised that terrorists would be wiped out, many wonder why extremists indulging in acts of terrorism in Pakistan remain unchallenged to such an extent.
U S President Donald Trump has openly said that the government of Pakistan is not doing enough to put down terrorists.
Afghanistan and India are two neighbouring countries which have been continuously blaming Pakistan of allowing its soil to be used by the terrorists to create unrest and disturbance in their countries.
In the case of Kashmir in India, Pakistan has not concealed its readiness to encourage and support those who are termed by the Pakistan government as freedom fighters and by the Indian government as terrorists, to operate from Pakistani soil to create unrest in Kashmir.
Pakistan is now at a crossroads; facing extremely difficult economic conditions on the one hand and facing terrorism on its soil the other, while the government is being accused of encouraging terrorism in neighbouring countries.
It is necessary for the Pakistan government to realize that this sort of scenario cannot continue any longer, as it is causing serious harm to the very future of Pakistan itself.
The recent accord between India and Pakistan, to build the required infrastructure for visa free travel by Sikh pilgrims in India to Pakistan’s Kartarpur Saheb Gurudwara, to mark the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November 2019, provides a glimpse of hope. It is good to hear a Pakistani minister hailing this accord as a “victory of peace lobbies” in both India and Pakistan.
Pakistan has a new Prime Minister, who is struggling to face the impending economic crisis within the country by seeking loans from Saudi Arabia, China, Malaysia and the International Monetary Fund. During his visits abroad, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged investors to invest in Pakistan and also claimed that Pakistan is a place of major tourist attractions given its natural and historical endowments.
The precondition for the Pakistan Prime Minister to drive Pakistan toward the path of prosperity and progress is to ensure that Pakistan does not only fight and destroy the terrorists but also appear to do so in the eyes of the world. It cannot do this by fighting terrorism on its soil and directly or indirectly encouraging terrorists in neighbouring countries
Pakistan’s Prime Minister should clearly realize that Pakistan is at a crossroads and it is up to him to take the country on the right path, possible only if his commitment to wipe out terrorism in letter and spirit from Pakistan and elsewhere is total and complete.
Pakistanis deserve better and Pakistan’s Prime Minister can meet their expectations by ensuring conditions of all round peace.
(The author is with the NGO, ‘Nandini Voice for the Deprived.’ He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)