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Media under fire

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The gun and grenade attack at the ARY office in Islamabad has raised yet more security related questions that the government must answer. One, what is its final position on Da’ish? First the interior minister preferred denial over action even as IS literature and wall-chalking steadily increased. But now, after a string of attacks claimed by the so called caliphate – the latest being the ARY attack – the government has said little save the usual ‘these terrorists will be pursued’, etc. It would help if the well-informed interior minister, for example, could clarify the latest official position on the matter.

Two, how is security of journalists to be ensured? True, the attack could, rather would, have assumed much worse proportions if the guards outside had not acted promptly. But journalists face dangers away from their workplaces as well. The government should improve their security since this latest round of attacks is coming because of media coverage of Zarb-e-Azb. And three, and most importantly, what is the way forward in Punjab where most of the worst sectarian militias hold fort with impunity, and where talk of a possible Karachi-style Rangers operation is now doing the rounds?

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif believes the province’s much celebrated Counter Terrorism Department is up to the task, provided it is given army-like weaponry. But he forgets that it takes more than guns to defeat this type of terrorism. And perhaps the many trips CTD trainees made to Turkey, etc, to train failed to educate them about the long process involved in tackling terrorism and militancy. One of the most important phases is picking up enemy chatter through sharp investigative and intelligence work – which is precisely what they were trained for – to preempt high profile hits. And no manner of latest hardware will improve the more important type of functioning. Sadly, on the most counts, CTD’s performance has left a little to be desired; hence the talk of Rangers visiting the province soon. And that, in turn, raises another important question. If the CTD remains ineffective, just as NAP is still only partially implemented, and army or Rangers must be resorted to for crime and militancy alike, then what progress have civilian institutions really made in this long war? These questions will only amplify if concrete and quantifiable explanations are not given soon. Pakistan Today

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