LAHORE – At a seminar organized by Safma on 20–point National Action Plan, the speakers while welcoming the unified stand of the whole national political leadership and the army against terrorism and religious extremism, resolved to support Pakistan’s war as their own.
They however, expressed their apprehension whether the new policy will be implemented in all respects and no terrorist will be spared on any pretext.
The speakers were of the view that this is not a conventional war and it has to be fought on cultural and educational fronts as without defeating the extremist mind, the war on terror cannot be won by military means alone.
Leading journalist Ahmed Rashied while welcoming new turn in the security policy asked for greater transparency regarding the ongoing military operation and hoped that the state and its institutions will spare no section of terrorists on any pretext as we have been seeing good Taliban being supported by the state. He was apprehensive about the possibilities of paradigm shift and emphasized the reversal of the past policies that promoted terrorism on one pretext or another.
Leading anchor Hamid Mir said that he was not sure whether the powers that be have decided to go after those who have been our so called strategic assets. Mr. Mir stressed that the intent of the new policy will be tested on how it is implemented. In the days to come, he said, we will see how far we will go in defeating the scourge of terrorism.
Senior lawyer Abid Hassan Minto was of the view that when all political parties have agreed to fight terrorism then they should mobilize their rank and file to fight against religious extremists and those who have been abetting terrorism. Commenting on military courts, he said the real problem will again be the quality of investigation and prosecution. Mr. Minto said that there is no difference on 20 points plan and progressive elements have been emphasizing these points for the past so many decades.
Senior analyst Najam Sethi observed that the military leadership has taken the course to fight the last terrorist and the political leadership has just followed the suit. The real question he asked is how far the military leadership will take this fight; whether it will be yet another bout of retaliation or a coherent and consistent policy to eradicate terrorism in all its manifestations—be it one north western front or eastern border.
Secretary General Safma Imtiaz Alam said that after a long time we have seen this positive change in the policy of state and this is a welcome development. We have been demanding, he said, the enforcement of the writ of the state and when the state is trying to enforce its writ, civil society is showing its apprehensions. Similarly, he said, military courts are coming under criticism on the grounds of due process of justice. He said the option is between the extrajudicial killing or through a legal process that is not ideal. Mr. Alam called upon civil society to support this drive against terrorism and hoped that it will address the apprehensions being expressed by some well meaning persons and organizations. Generally the house was of the view that unless the extremist mindset is not defeated and the state adopts a new national narrative against religious extremism and terrorism this threat to our existence could not be overcome.
Large number of leading journalists, civil society and human right activists participated in the discourse.