Editorial : D.G. Khan attack - Tuesday, April 05, 2011

THE intra-sect war continued on Sunday with an attack on the Sakhi Sarwar shrine in D.G Khan. The 13th-century Sufi saint is a revered figure in the region and has been in the crosshairs of the militants for some time. D.G. Khan itself is a vulnerable district, sharing as it does a border with Balochistan, D.I. Khan and a sliver of South Wazirstan. But the shrine was even more vulnerable, located as it is less than a stone’s throw from tribal limits in Balochistan. Can such attacks be prevented? Not unless at least two things happen. First, the link between terrorist acts and the absence of local governments is becoming increasingly clear. Punjab, like the other provinces, is being run by administrators who may or may not have deep knowledge of the districts they are tasked with running. Law and order, hardly a science that has been perfected in Pakistan, suffers even more in such circumstances. Local knowledge and being invested in the peace and security of an area are two very potent enablers of action. There have been examples in other districts where elected district officials, because of their deep connections in local areas, have been able to pinpoint suspicious activities and identify suspects. So at present, in the absence of elected local governments, the state is ‘blind’ in many ways and unable to purposefully tackle the terrorist threat.
Second, an across-the-board political consensus needs to be developed if the space for militant violence is to be eroded. The flip side of a politician’s knowledge of an area is the adjustments and compromises he is willing to make with local players in order to win an election. Consider that in the recently held by-election for a National Assembly seat in D.G. Khan, prominent candidates were only too willing to court elements on the religious right. Individually, few candidates would be able to resist such impulses because in a first-past-the-post system a few thousand votes can be the difference between victory and defeat. What is needed, then, is a consensus at the highest political level and for that consensus to filter down through the party structures at the local level. The major political parties often talk about the need for a consensus in the fight against militancy, but have done little to actually achieve it, at least in any meaningful and sustained manner.
Several years into this long war, the country has yet to develop a strategy to fight the militancy threat. Surely that is all the militants need to survive, and eventually thrive. Will the country collectively awaken to the threat in time?

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/05/dg-khan-attack.html

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