LAHORE - Although Operation Zarb-i-Azb has entered its last year and terrorism in KP has been controlled to a large extent, the province still remains vulnerable. Two deadly attacks carried out recently in Jamrud and Charsadda are a testimony that much remains to be done to root out terrorism.

The Rangers are busy carrying out operation in Karachi but it is not clear how much more time is required to take it to its logical conclusion.

Balochistan is also periodically struck by terrorists. Though the situation has improved to a great extent, the possibility of the terrorists causing more deaths at any time in the future cannot be ruled out.

Punjab is the only province where terrorists can’t operate as freely as in other federating units. This, however, doesn’t mean that attacks carried out in the past – as a result of which many people lost their lives – were less painful.

The question is what steps were taken by the Punjab government that brought the situation under control? And should the provincial governments benefit from one another’s experience? What should be the role of the federal government in establishing law and order?

Under the constitution it is the responsibility of a provincial government to maintain law and order in the area under its jurisdiction. And depending upon the requirement of a situation it can also seek help from the centre.

As a matter of principle, provincial governments should benefit from one another’s experience. But, unfortunately, the split mandate of the 2013 election has made it difficult for the rival political parties in provinces to come to the help of any federating unit facing a difficult situation. They may issue press statements in support of a province in trouble, but, because of their political, expediency, they will not like to do much to help it out.

Everyone knows that the PML-N and the PTI are arch rivals. Similarly the PML-N and the PPP are adversaries, although the PPP is not playing the role of an effective opposition.

The political interest of the PML-N is better served if the PTI fails to come up to the expectations of its people in KP. It will like to see a situation in KP where the people curse the PTI everyday and want a change at the earliest. The more comprehensive the PTI’s failure, the more jubilant the PML-N will be.

And in the prevailing situation the PML-N alone stands a better chance of replacing the PTI.

In such a situation, can the PML-N government at the centre or in province be expected to extend a whole-hearted support to the PTI in curbing terrorism or solving other problems? No. It will never like the party of Imran Khan to perform better.

In case the PTI performs better and comes to the expectations of the people, voters will like it to return to power in the province again in the 2018 elections. And on the basis of the performance of its current government it can also get support in other provinces in the next election.

This situation is simply not tolerable for the PML-N.

Because of the same reasons, the PML-N will not like the PPP government in Sindh to deliver. It will like the PPP rejected by the people so that the PML-N gets a chance to set foot in the province where it has little following at present.

(This argument does not apply to Balochistan as a PML-N leader is now the chief minister there under a term-sharing formula between this party and the National Party).

Ideally, the federal government should play the same role for the provinces which parents play for their children, no matter what their attitude towards them.

Will the federal government show such large-heartedness, rising above its political interests?

While talking of the law and order situation the role of the religious parties and seminaries is also very pertinent.

The trend of suicide attacks in various parts of the country, especially the KP, shows that all religious parties, khateebs of mosques and seminaries have failed to tell people that suicide and suicide attacks are haram in Islam.

A Muslim, no matter which religious school of thought he belongs to, cannot even think of committing suicide or carrying out a suicide attack to take lives of innocent people. Those indoctrinating others to go for suicide attacks have nothing to do with Islam and deserve severest punishments.

The government must think of measures to use religious leaders to counter the “factories” producing suicide bombers.

Another step which may help the government rein in terrorists is a new piece of legislation. The families of those involved in terrorist activities and suicide attacks should also be held equally responsible and awarded exemplary punishments. Mercenaries and suicide bombers put their lives at stake for the sake of better future of their families. Whatever benefits they get from their handlers go to their families. And if the families are held treated as co-accused for the killings and are deprived of the opportunity to enjoy their lives, they will keep a strict check on the activities of their children and won’t let them play with the lives of innocent people.