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Rizwan Shehzad

The Express Tribune

Published Date: Dec 25, 2014

Counter narrative: Combat terrorism through effective policing, not military


Counter-narrative and day to day effective policing are vital
for dominating war against terrorism instead of putting all eggs in military’s basket, said participants of a seminar.

“Terrorism will not end very soon in Pakistan and we will see this and any other government fumbling and bumbling over the issue of terrorism,” Ejaz, Haider, journalist, anchor and researcher said.

“There are two aspects – firefighting and narrative – of the fight against terrorism,” he said, adding that the counter narrative should clarify where we stand, what our values are and how we can use state’s platform against anyone because the other side doesn’t believe in the state.

Commenting on the military operations conducted over the years, Haider said that currently we were doing firefighting to combat terrorism with the objectives to get back territorial boundaries and also the physical dominance.

He, however, warned that reprisal will come into cities instead of FATA and we need to improve the percentage of pre-emptive measures.

Relying upon military for everything ranging from floods to calling them in the capital under article 245 should be avoided, he said. Supporting his argument, Haider said that police force should be used more because they have greatest access to societies.

“Effective counter terrorism policy and day to day effective policing
are the same things. Police need to be re-organised and if policing is not in line then terrorism is hard to fight,” he said.

Absolutism, idealism and utilitarianism were all extremes, he said, adding that heavily militarised units were not the answer to terrorism but just a misconception.

He opposed the notion that the Peshawar tragedy was a 9/11 of Pakistan saying that America’s response following the incident neither made Americans more secure nor the rest of the world. “Our manner should
not be of that.”

Application of ruthlessness has importance during counter terrorism, however, it is a million dollar question whether it was workable in Pakistan on not, he said.

“9/11 was first such incident of America. We have already lost over 50,000 people,” said Ambassador Munawar Saeed Bhatti. He added that nonetheless Peshawar incident stands out and shocked everyone.

For Bhatti, dominating narrative was important as each and everyone has taken a clear position after the December 16 tragedy in Peshawar. “Civil society’s waking up is the change but end will come with a lot of
pain and will take time,” he said.

He also supported the idea that countering terrorism needed to be done by policing and justice system and not by military. “Fixing police and judicial system has the answer. Our whole dependent has always been on armed forces and we need to sort this out,” Bhatti said.

Dr Abid Suleri of the SDPI said that it was important to figure out how many generations will suffer from our decisions and compensate for our mistakes.

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