1. Gather the right intelligence.
It will forever remain a mystery to this author what purposes Pakistan’s premier intelligence organizations serve for the government, as they certainly haven’t been able to take notice of the most obvious of signs to create mischief, which have been presented by miscreants online and otherwise. It is this inability of the government to take note of such signs, which has led to so much success for elements that have always tried to create unrest in the country. Take the Rawalpindi instance, for example. The plan to disturb a procession which passes peacefully through it’s fixed route every year (possibly) since before the birth of Pakistan, was made on Twitter one day prior to the incident. A banned organization tweeted a public invitation to people to come to the ‘Taleem ul Quran mosque at Raja Bazar at 10 am’ to ‘stop’ the procession. If the government had been monitoring accounts of such banned outfits, this plan could have been picked up before the incident, and the necessary precautionary measures taken at and around the said mosque to prevent such an incident from happening.
2. Plan all year round.
Like the MBM Forum’s Maulana Jamil Rathore pointed out, the Government can not hope to maintain peace during months such as Muharram or Rabi-ul-Awwal just by disconnecting the phone services. It needs to come up with a comprehensive plan to counter the extremist, and maybe even foreign, forces at work in the country, whose main aim is to create divide, whether it be sectarian or ethnic. Religious leaders and Masjid/Jumma Imams who spread hate through their speeches in regular and/or Friday sermons need to be reprimanded, and if they don’t stop, even imprisoned. Organizations that have been banned, and yet continue to function at almost every level in the society need to be uprooted essentially, as they are the culprits promoting militancy and a hard-line approach to religion among the youth.
3. Make the tough decisions.
Ordering the siege and conquest of the infamous Lal Masjid may have been the toughest decisions of Musharraf’s decade long tenure, but it was certainly not the worst. One look at the amount of arsenal and ammunition recovered from the mosque, and at how the militants inside the mosque managed to withstand the siege of the Pakistan Army for days, is enough to realize that Lal Masjid was more than just a place of worship. All such hubs of terrorism need to be dealt with immediately as peace can not be attained without the ultimate deweaponization of militant outfits. Things may turn ugly in the sense that religio-political organizations may resort to protests in response, but the ultimate benefit of such measures to the country will be undoubtedly worth it.
4. Use the right Clerics.
It is a sad truth but we are a nation which pays too much attention to what the so-called Ulema and Moulanas have to say. The terrorist and extremist outfits convey their messages of hate and fatwas labelling other sects as Kafir through these phony Mullahs. The government must beat these barbarians at their own game. Inter-sect religious forums which promote harmony, such as the Muttahida Bain-ul-Muslimeen Forum and others, need to be given a platform by the government so that their message of love and peace reaches all corners of the country, and harmony follows.