Terrorists losing support

It seems we are caught in a roller coaster ride punctuated by one bomb blast after another. On Sunday, an improvised explosive device that was buried near the road in Bara Kahu just outside Islamabad detonated, injuring three passersby. On Monday, a suicide bomber tried to enter a bank in the I-8 sector of Islamabad but was intercepted by the guard, who was killed along with the bomber. It is significant that on two consecutive days, two incidents have taken place in or around Islamabad. Just a day before, on Saturday, twin bomb blasts ripped through the busy Khyber Supermarket in Peshawar Cantonment, killing 39 and injuring about 100. Two journalists were among the dead. Unfortunately, the media coverage of terrorist incidents leaves much to be desired. It is a well-known fact that if you repeatedly flash images in dizzying succession, it has a deleterious effect on viewers. Our news channels subject the viewers to flashing images, text and graphics in rapid succession whenever the ‘breaking news’ message goes on. This is psychologically damaging and spreads panic.Following the deadly blasts in the Khyber Supermarket in Peshawar, the Taliban denied responsibility and accused foreign agencies of perpetrating these attacks to malign them. The Taliban spokesman said that their only targets are the security forces when, in the past, they have eagerly claimed responsibility for attacks on even shrines and mosques. What prompted them to now desist from doing so? Changing public opinion and the increasing number of journalists being killed in this conflict have compelled media persons/houses to seriously take stock and perceive the looming threat to the country and their own security. The Taliban realise that with even their media sympathisers turning against them, their politics will not succeed. The negative public and media reaction to a series of recent attacks is part of the trajectory of public opinion. Forced by the circumstances, even sympathisers of the jihadi militants within the media have changed their tune and are openly condemning Taliban actions. Perhaps that is the reason that the Taliban thought it appropriate to distance themselves from these attacks that took two journalists’ lives amongst others. However, nobody is buying the terrorists’ claims. All the actions that killed 30,000 innocent people are slowly and incrementally turning public opinion against them. The national psychosis that has been created by these killings and helped by the media is the basis of their retreat.

Armed struggle and violent means are no guarantee of success. It is the politics behind the resort to such methods that determine whether they will be effective or not. The difference between a people’s armed struggle and a terrorist movement is that the people’s armed struggle has to have the support of the masses as a sine qua non. It is actually the masses that are mobilised to conduct the struggle. Terrorists seldom have broad mass appeal, and ours are a throwback to a mythical golden past. Their programme wants to transport people back to the seventh century and does not address modern society’s needs. Only the narrow-minded, die-hard supporters of the terrorists can commit themselves to such an antediluvian programme. Therefore, it is not surprising that the terrorists are now losing whatever support they may have had since the first Afghan jihad days.

What is unfortunate, however, is that Pakistan’s security establishment is still bent on making a mythical distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. The security establishment has come to realise only part of the threat from the ‘bad’ Taliban because of attacks on the security forces themselves. One wonders how long will they be able to maintain this distinction when there are indications of a deep nexus between the two. The Taliban have operational links in the entire country and have safe havens with the Haqqani network. The establishment, while holding out for the Afghanistan endgame, must calculate the costs of harbouring the Taliban proxies and turning a blind eye to their (joint) activities. There is no other option but to give up this wishful thinking and re-energise the anti-terrorism struggle in a holistic manner. – Dailytimes