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Disconcerting tiding.

The doleful demise of senior police officer Chaudhry Aslam in terrorist blast is very saddening and shocking. For years, he had been battling bravely outlaws in the crucial Karachi port city. The pivotal figure he was in the fight to rid the beleaguered city of prowling terrorism, criminality and lawlessness, holding it in their murderous claws for over a decade now.

The risks were tremendous to his life. Several times had he been targeted lethally. Yet, undeterred, he kept fighting on. The battle against terrorism and lawlessness is sure to receive a setback from his untimely death.

Nonetheless, if his demise is tragic, no lesser unnerving is it too. The TTP clan has boastfully claimed the fatal strike's responsibility, manifesting tellingly how terribly misplaced is the ruling hierarchy's hope to buy peace with the merchants of death and destruction with negotiations.

Bluntly, ever since the political class's leading lights emerged from their Islamabad huddle, crying dialogue, dialogue and dialogue, a bubbling sense of arrogance and haughtiness is perceptibly sweeping the clan from end to end. The meekness of not just the political class but, more unsettlingly, of the state that this terrified cry reflected so pronouncedly has clearly emboldened the clan immeasurably.

No wonder, the clan has not just owned up this fatal strike. It has threatened to serve the same fate to any official who it deems having ill-behaved with its brigands in or out of jail.

What else could you expect when the political elites across the spectrum in unison squawks a scream that gives the chilling sense that the state has given in and is humbly begging for mercy from the clan? What really could you hope for when the leading stars of our holy fathers cheekily dub as martyrdom the killing of a clansman in a strike but hate to give this veneration to our own soldiers' demise while fighting to free the country from the horror of terrorists' bloodbath?

But if the grandees crowding our political arena were to take a pause for a moment from their spuriousness, posturing and superficiality, they would know it takes a lot of hardboiled thinking, imaginative planning and meticulous strategies to contend with monstrosities like terrorism, militancy and extremism. And even then, when eventually the monsters of bloodletting are on the retreat because of the state's muscular actions, the curbing of militancy stays a long haul.

And this haul, if not out of the state's reach forever, becomes all the longer if the state itself is on the retreat. And in this condition are we presently pitched pathetically.

The grandees strutting so vaingloriously on the national political stage would do well if they become a little real and imbibe a few pulsating realities obtaining from the real experiences the world over. Yes, peace comes finally from the negotiating table. But the matter is not so simple or straight as our eminences put it to be. Yes, after every war there is a peace deal inevitably.

But this comes about when one party defeats the other in the battlefield. And the peace agreement is in reality a surrender document dictated by the victorious to be signed up by the vanquished. Are the eminences then thinking of a peace deal to be dictated by the militants and to be signed by the state in surrender?

In a repulsive show of abject affectation, some of the eminences squeak that they are not for a Sri Lankan-like deal with extremists. In their zeal to look creative and no hawks, they seem forgetting too many things. Chandrika Kumaratunga, former president of the island state, had in fact offered on a platter the separatist warring Tamil Tigers autonomy that a little short of independence promised full self-rule in the country's Tamil-dominated northern part.

But the Tamil Tigers, then riding on the backs of a prosperous huge Tamil diaspora and their large ethnic cousins across the Palk Strait in India, were too intransigent and obstinate. They rebuffed the offer and kept fighting on. Kumaratunga's successor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, too pursued the peace route for a time initially to put the Tamil insurgency to an end, though not as committedly and fervently as had she. But his moves too came a cropper. And the issue was finally settled in the battlefield.

The point is that peace through negotiations doesn't come on its own. Definitely, not from all-parties jamborees, resolutions and vows. This has to be worked for with sagacious strategies and pragmatic action plans. And this has to be like this for us while grappling with the stalking terrorism, militancy and extremism. The warring clans have to be softened up so that they find it more convenient to talk peace than keep fighting.

And that means clearly the use of both the language of the gun and the language of the tongue. Both coercion and persuasion have to be brought together creatively and imaginatively to bring the senseless bloodletting to an end in the land.

But there one finds hardly even a trace of such thinking in the country's high places. It is all superficiality in evidence prevalent over there. And that disconcertingly tells Chaudhry Aslams and Aitezaz Hussains will keep sacrificing their lives at the terrorism's altar for a long time to come.
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Publication:Frontier Post (Peshawar, Pakistan)
Date:Jan 11, 2014
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