Handling Extremist groups: Shafaqna Exclusive

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SHAFAQNA-This is turning point in the history of Pakistan that Pakistan civilian and military leadership has decided not to spare any terrorist group and that is the sole reason that it unpresciently decided to target Haqqani group as well. Hanging Ikram Lahori also shows that this time Pakistan is damn serious to take action against any outfit without discrimination. Pakistan government showed a high level flexibility in the past against number of banned outfits. Common sense suggests that when these groups were banned, that was done on the basis of evidence about their activities and linkages. If they are still functioning that means the government knowingly allowed them to carry on their murderous business. In fact, there are several prominent examples wherein certain extremist groups were banned but their leaders allowed to reinventing their identities and re-emerge under new names to go back to what they were doing before. It would be useful to ascertain the rationale behind this two-faced policy. And why in the past would the government take exception to those who pointed to the presence of these groups in Punjab, especially in its southern districts? It has to be acknowledged though that not only the PML-N government but successive governments turned a blind eye to the scourge, with the result that violent extremists kept growing from strength to strength to the point where the leaders themselves felt unsafe to take action against them.
The interior minister mentioned various measures that are now being readied for implementation as part of the National Action Plan, offering the hope that the past is a foreign country, and things will now be done differently. Recounting some details, he said, the law enforcement agencies are proactively monitoring madrassahs to check the spread of terrorist ideology in the country. Since last month a total of 341 persons involved in hate speeches have been booked and another 251 taken into custody. As many as 41 shops selling hate material have been closed and 1,100 reprimanded for the misuse of loudspeakers. Law enforcement agencies picked up 180 suspects from Islamabad, and from Punjab a staggering 14,000, out of which 780 have been formally indicted. In equally important but belated two decisions the Prime Minister has directed the FBR to ensure that proscribed organisations’ funding is stopped, and the IT ministry to block websites and social medial platforms used by terrorist organisations. It will not be enough, however, to subject only proscribed organisations to such scrutiny. Apart from this it is time to take Madrassahs on account and need to have a strict check on funding of Madrassahs. Religious parties should also be cut to size when it comes to terrorism. Military leadership should clearly convey that any religio-political party found guilty for terrorism will be dealt with iron hands.

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