Suicide blasts in various parts of Pakistan in which several people have lost their lives are clear indications that terrorists have been losing the war.
If the government remains firm and resolute in the war on terrorism then it is certain that the terrorists will lose the war. The people have been winning.
Like many, I also believe that if the government took similar actions in the past then so many lives of innocent people might have not been lost. If there is a will there is way. The latest action of President Pervez Musharraf has proved these words correct. Now he has been showing seriousness in the war on terrorism
Pakistani newspapers and liberal leaders have been supporting Musharraf in this war on terrorism. One leading newspaper in its editorial comment stated even as President General Pervez Musharraf told a high-level meeting in Islamabad that extremism had to be fought on all fronts, and asked the federal and provincial governments to take tough action against madrassas which are potential Lal Masjids, the clerics and their zealots were out in the streets of all the cities of Pakistan, challenging him to match word with deed.
Coupled with this is the fact that 35 people have died at the hands of extremists, many of them soldiers of the Pakistan army and local administration, in the tribal and northern areas of the country since July 3 when the siege of Lal Masjid was ordered and the extremists vowed revenge.
Yesterday another eight soldiers were killed when a car loaded with explosives rammed into an army convoy in North Waziristan. Thus, even as troops are being deployed in Swat and the Northern Areas, there is more alarming live coverage on TV channels of bearded zealots shouting defiance.
Clearly, the clergy doesn't care if its allegations against the government have been refuted by concrete proof to the contrary. For instance, the Wafaq had asserted that there were never any foreigners in Lal Masjid. But this has been falsified by Maulana Ghazi's recorded conversation. That is why the clergy thinks this is the right time to give the big push to a government and topple it.
Unfortunately, in this state of confrontation, the conservative ruling PML leaders are still dreaming of a perfect world where the clerics will live at peace with them and save them from the evil of "liberalism".
But it is not just the PMLQ that is at fault. There are others in the Opposition too who wittingly or unwittingly tend to prop up the rampant clergy. For instance, there are some small secular parties that have embraced an anarchism of sorts in their campaign to use the clergy as a battering ram against the government.
In the same fashion, the PMLN has once again responded to its "IJI" reflexes - when the army had got it together with the clergy to rule Pakistan not so long ago - and found comfort in playing footsie with the zealots in the country.
Then there is the whole community of well-meaning lawyers who are fighting for justice but also unwittingly forming a kind of common pool where every anarchist or mullah is welcome to wash his hands. One of their leaders has actually declared that if the Supreme Court doesn't reinstate the fired chief justice he will burn the Supreme Court down! This is the sort of statement one expects from an anarchist but not from the leader of a pro-justice or pro-democracy movement.
Strangely, the word of caution about the lethality of religious terror has come from a non-incumbent party, the PPP, whose leader Ms Benazir Bhutto is grateful that the historical link between religion, terror and the state has finally been broken at Lal Masjid. She said on Friday, "It is the end of ambiguous policies towards terrorism which in past encouraged the militants".
In short, it is now clear that the political parties have not yet made up their minds about how they will be able to rule Pakistan with its seminaries full of potential suicide-bombers.
Significantly, it is ironic that even President Musharraf is not yet willing to say that he will remove the complex of illegal madrassas in the heart of Islamabad. He is still thinking of giving the area to the Wafaqul Madaris, the same Wafaqul Madaris which is baying for his blood in the streets of the country. Anywhere else, the government would have lost no time in saying that the "liberated" area would be returned to other institutions of community interest.
It is time to bite the bullet. Some strength can be gained from the fact that the entire Islamic world is faced with the same challenge. From Morocco to Indonesia, the governments are deciding in favour of curbing the clerical dominance they had earlier allowed.
The policy of filling the political space with religion in order to dull the appeal of the militant religious organisations has borne bitter fruit in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. If Saudi Arabia helped the bigoted clergy through moral policing, Malaysia, often mistakenly considered a liberal state, is playing havoc with the Muslim community through its moral police which is raiding homes at night to see if the residents are keeping alcohol in their cupboards.
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