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Time for a 360-degree anti-terror strategy

  • Published at 09:43 pm July 12th, 2016
Time for a 360-degree anti-terror strategy

We are gratified to note the wide-ranging anti-terror measures mooted by the PM in the wake of the horrific July 1 and July 7 attacks.

This shows that the government understands just how serious the crisis the country is facing is, and the necessity for urgent action to combat the crisis.

Many of the ideas that the PM and other members of the government have placed on the table, such as countrywide anti-militancy committees and better reporting and tracking of missing persons, are good ones, and we very much hope that they can be implemented without delay.

We welcome such thinking and these inititatives, but it is also important that we approach combating terror in a unified, comprehensive, and above all well-planned manner, and that we do not succumb to ad hocism or schemes that sound promising at first blush but that turn out to be impractical or counter-productive on closer examination.

Most importantly, there needs to be follow through. Implementation is everything.

The focus must, as has been outlined by the PM, be on education and engagement. We are fortunate that there is vanishingly little public support for terrorism and militancy among the general public, and we must work to ensure that this remains the case and that there can be no acceptance for the kind of unspeakable atrocities that the nation witnessed.

It goes without saying that we must have zero tolerance for terrorist activity, but at the same time we must also crack down strongly on those who preach or advocate for terror or give comfort and support to terrorists.

But we must make sure that the steps we take are measured, meaningful, and well thought-out.

For instance, keeping better track of missing students is a fine idea. However, to be practical, requiring reporting of students missing for only ten days is excessive. This is too onerous a reporting burden and will generate too much information for the authorities to be able to process usefully.

The government must also partner with the relevant educational institutions so as to make the collecting of information a smooth process. And finally, why should the focus just be on private institutions? While perpetrators with a private university background catch the headlines, there is sadly no shortage of public university or madrasa students who have also been involved in terrorist activity.

The above are offered simply by way of example.

The crux of the matter is that hastily-planned or ad hoc measures, while well-intentioned, will not solve our problems.

A comprehensive, cohesive, well thought-out strategy that is capable of being implemented efficiently and effectively is the order of the day.