For a number of days reports have been trickling in that suggest that a major operation against extremist militants in the Punjab is in the offing. Meetings, statements, movements all suggest that there may actually be something to all of this.
Now there is news, although still not officially confirmed, that the operation has begun, or at least been authorized by the Punjab government.
Militancy needs to be rooted out. An operation against the continued working of outfits that are already legally banned has been long overdue and one hopes that it will now be taken with haste but also with care and without ‘collateral’ (what a horrible word that is!) damage. The impunity with which many extremist organizations have been spreading their work of hate has not only led to a terrorization of the population but has emboldened existing and emergent organizations.
A crackdown is clearly needed. But it also needs to be undertaken without inflicting even more fear and misfortune on local populations and innocent civilians that are already in the grind. We need to do this, but we need to do this for our own reasons. For Pakistan and for the safety and security of Pakistanis. Unless the police and other agencies involved are fully committed on the action – and that is why the issue of ‘why’ it is being undertaken is so important – the operation will be doomed to failure. Most importantly, in order to be effective it is equally important to make sure that those responsible for the horrendous acts that have now become routine in Pakistan are not only caught but also punished for their crimes. That means gathering evidence to justify a strong case for the courts.
Only when the pace at which culprits are being brought to justice becomes higher than the rate of bombings and attacks could one claim any headway in truly dealing with this menace which is already out of hand.