Progressives, peace groups and peace loving citizens came together to hold a vigil for the health, early recovery and long life of Malala Yousafzai at the Lahore Press Club. The protest was organized by Institute for peace and secular studies. They stated that things could not go on as usual in Pakistan where terrorism and violence had become the order of the day and 40,000 lives had been lost in the last 10 years alone. They demanded a change in direction which required a change in State Policy at the highest level following by strict implementation.
They argued that terrorism could not be defeated in the country till the State and Pakistan-Army ended its policy of differentiating between various Taliban, Jihadi and Sectarian groups. There were no good vs bad Taliban, good vs bad Jihadis. All these organizations used violence and the State needed to clamp down on all these organizations and rehabilitate former jihadis created by the State during the last 30 years. It was unfortunate that while the State had banned these organizations, they were still allowed to operate freely with a different name, while few political parties were negotiating seat adjustments with same groups.
What Pakistan needed was a comprehensive Anti-Terrorism and de-radicalization Policy and Strategy. This was the single most important issue for the Parliament and Pakistan’s foreign policy (Afghanistan, India and America) should be framed on this basis rather than on Strategic Depth which had led to the current predicament. Pakistan needed a clean break from its past of supporting Jihadi groups for its foreign policy objectives. This change in policy should be publicly stated by the Army and intelligence agencies and ground realities should show a curtailment of activities of Jihadi groups.
Participants hoped that this heinous crime would open citizen eyes that it was time to stop blaming the rest of the world and tackle our own problems. Pakistan needed to double its efforts for internal and regional peace else the champions of peaceful co-existence would continued to be targeted by forces of violence.
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