Most Pakistanis might have ignored the traditional messages of their president and prime minister during the country’s Independence Day celebration during which they made meaningless vows to take the country on a progressive path. The remarkable speech on that occasion came from the military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani.
Although his speech left so many questions unanswered, it appeared to be a clue to some soul-searching on the part of the military. The general was very clear on one thing — that the fight against militancy and terrorism is not someone else’s war but Pakistan’s own war, although it may mean fighting its own people.
Are we justified to presume that this time Pakistan’s military means business? Taking note of the right-wing religious/political parties which advocate a pullout from the “war on terrorism”, we have to see how the general’s words will be supported by real deeds on the ground. Will the army do away with its ambivalent yardstick of what is a “good” and “bad” Taliban? Anyone who challenges the state, including those who use its soil to attack another country, should be dealt with an iron fist.
One may presume that religious groups will go by the army’s change of heart and behave like good boys, although it is difficult to visualize how the militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jamat Ud Dawa would change their ways.
Chocking the administrative and financial support for militant groups is a step in the right direction. Military operations in North Waziristan will be boosted if Pakistan commits itself to take on the militants, regardless of their value to the state. The general public and media should also support the actions against bloody militancy.
General Kayani has made a valid observation: lack of effective legislation to prosecute the militants in the courts of law has made it difficult for the military to go after them. It has been proven that the colonial-era legislation has made it difficult to put militants and terrorists behind bars. It is time for the civilian government to adopt the necessary legal changes and make it difficult for militants to skirt the law. I wish that what appears to be a softening of heart in the ranks of the military will translate into an irreversible change in their mindset and attitude.Masood Khan, Jubail