The attack against APS Boys Peshawar that killed over 140 innocents was termed as a ‘turning point‘ in the war on terrorism. The sheer brutality of such an attack meant we could no longer ignore difficult realities and the nation was united against all militants without favour. This was made apparent by the unprecedented move of issuing a non-bailable arrest warrant for Lal Masjid Abdul Aziz. After two months have passed, though, it appears that we have finally turned full circle and today we find ourselves back in the same place we were the on 15th December.
Despite the fact of a two-months old non-bailable arrest warrant, Abdul Aziz has yet to see the inside of a jail. Nor is this a matter of oversight. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has said that the state is scared to take action against Abdul Aziz.
“If we arrest him and it leads to yet another tragic incident, it will have very negative consequences.”
The ‘tragic incident’ the Minister is referring to of course is the fight between Lal Masjid militants and Pakistan security forces in 2007 that left 150 dead. Despite having reached a ‘turning point’, the state is still unwilling to put action behind words of zero tolerance because it is afraid of taking on the militants in urban areas.
Then there is the question of who the terrorists are. ISPR announced just weeks ago that the terrorists who carried out the attack on APS Peshawar were Pakistani. Today however, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has declared that terrorism in Pakistan is the a foreign conspiracy. Once again, the state is giving some space to terrorists by creating confusion about who is really responsible.
Militants in the urban areas are tolerated while Army reports statistics of nameless, faceless terrorists in remote areas. Those openly preaching hate and violence are ignored while nameless, faceless ‘foreign elements’ are blamed for attacks. So here we are, a mere eight weeks after Peshawar attack, right back in the same place we were the day before.