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Pakistan Today Editorial – 23rd March 2016

Europe after Brussels

The war just changed gears

Now that the war on terror has come to two major European capitals in the post-ISIS caliphate environment – and two make a trend –the continent’s Schengen Area border arrangement as well as its interaction with the outside world is likely to undergo an overhaul. There were signs that something was cooking in Brussels since security agencies picked up one of the Paris attackers from there a few days ago. But the synchronised manner of the attack reflects detailed planning and reconnaissance, which is fast becoming a hallmark of ISIS. That means there’s no telling how many more sleeper cells litter the length and breadth of the continent; hence the panic.

Europe’s free border policy has its roots in the old war-ridded days of Bismark. And it took around a century of steady progress to create the 26-member border-free bloc. Suddenly, two freak attacks have put the arrangement in jeopardy. Surely some controls will now have to be put on free movement and a lot more screening and profiling is just around the corner. The continent has invested a hundred years worth of time and effort into the Union; it will go all the way to protect what has been achieved at such a high cost.

Unfortunately, this attack will also increase pressure on Muslims across the west, especially in Europe itself. Once again Da’ish has displayed the capability of striking at Europe’s nerve centres; Paris being a political symbol and Brussels a sign of the continent’s financial might. And, as usual, innocent people will bear the brunt of the inevitable security clampdown. Maybe now the western world will take ISIS more seriously than a political compulsion. While Russia helped the Syrian government in containing Da’ish, nato members’ many strikes have come across as more a politically correct position than a concrete effort to degrade the militia. The time to draw political mileage from this war passed a long time ago. And as Europe changes after Brussels, it had better realise that.

Commemorating Pakistan Resolution

And following the message

There is a need to remind ourselves of the wording of the Pakistan Resolution, adopted on 23 March, 1940. The Resolution underlined two elements which were to be the basic features of the Constitution of Pakistan. The first was its federal character with maximum autonomy for the federating units. The second was ‘adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards for the protection of the religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights of the minorities’. There is a need to remind the government that it has to strictly abide by the constitutional provision regarding the holding of CCI meeting within well-defined periods. The federation must avoid taking decisions impacting the provinces without mandatory consultation. While minor steps have been taken to ensure the rights of the minorities, a big stigma persists in the form of laws used to incriminate them. Unless the government either strikes them down or modifies them adequately, it will not be seen to be adhering to the promise made in Pakistan Resolution.

The customary military parade on Pakistan Day was suspended for seven years after 2008 on account of rampant terrorism. The revival of the parade last year was meant to convey the message that when the people and their armed forces stand together, they can defeat any threat to the security of the society and the stability of the country. Operation Zarb-e-Azb has managed to rout the international brigade of terrorists in tribal areas. It would be premature to claim that it has broken the terrorists’ back. The time has come to make a realistic appraisal of what the military operation has achieved and where more needs to be done by the civilian government.

It is now a priority task to eradicate the extremist thinking spread by narrow-minded clerics from the pulpits and seminaries which is now spreading to prestigious universities. As long as governments fail to take bold measures to promote liberal thinking fearing the clerics’ threats, there will be no dearth of recruits willing to enlist in the terrorist networks.

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