Irshad Salim — Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa back in May made a subtle distinction between terrorism and extremism, saying the military could only defeat terrorists but extremism is something civil society is better equipped to deal with.
He was speaking at a seminar in capital Islamabad, titled “Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism”, attended by students, army personnel as well as dignitaries from the world of academia.
Gen Bajwa had said extremism was the foremost factor driving terrorism, adding that though the former is a term “relative to our perception of what is normal,” it has a lot to do with the environment in which people live.
“From that perspective,” he added, “We must admit that Pakistani youth is being exploited due to the poor governance [of the country] and lack of justice in society.”
Fast forward, and this week, the Army Chief said the country was moving towards supremacy of law and establishment of writ of the state- indicating that the country was transforming to a ‘normalized Pakistan’.
Articulating his most recent observations, the General said, “With full backing of the nation, we are heading towards a normalized Pakistan where writ of state and supremacy of law would be second to none and where every Pakistani — whether in cities, tribal or far-flung areas — will be able to play their positive and rightful part in Pakistan’s progress.”
The army chief Gen was talking to officers and troops on the completion of the Khyber-IV operation in Khyber Agency — one of the tribal areas in northwest Pakistan close to the restive Afghan border.
The army’s media wing stated that 90 per cent of the target area of terrorists were cleared. Khyber Agency will be free of terrorism on completion of the Khyber-IV operation, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa promised in a visit to Rajgal valley on Saturday, reported local media outlet.
The General’s observation and views on nation’s youth preceding his latest statement on writ of the state and supremacy of rule of law as essential ingredients of a ‘normalized Pakistan’ indicate his understanding and perception on current affairs, said one analyst. “Terrorism you can with with bullets, but extremism has to be resisted and fought by other pillars of state, the civilians and the civil society. For that you not only need writ of the state established but also supremacy of the law,” he added pointing out that 50 per cent of the Pakistani population is projected to be less than 25 years of age, and the future of this country “literally lies” in whatever direction the youth takes or is given.
“Our homes, educational institutions and media houses are first in the line of defense against extremism in the society,” Gen Bajwa had said.
“We must admit that Pakistani youth is being exploited due to the poor governance [of the country] and lack of justice in society.”
Therefore, he said, it is crucial that the youth not only receive education but also develop a “balanced” personality, and become “productive citizens and future leaders”.