Empowering the defenders

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Zaheer Bhatti

THE Armed Forces of Pakistan having been chastised for almost a decade now have reverted to its true role as the defenders of the country’s geographical and ideological frontiers. But it seems that the political constituency of the country is either still weary and fearful of the Armed Forces capacity to sideline the civilian set-up or is unmindful of the gravity of the obtaining security situation in the country created largely by external forces but also contributed to by their own inert policies that it keeps staging false flag operations to superficially assert its authority; the present stalemate over extension of military courts being a glaring example.
It is by now a foregone conclusion that the Government apparatus falling short of its capacity and duty to restore law and order and ensure safety of life and property had to per force call upon assistance of the Armed Forces to restore order. Establishment of military courts in the absence of proper prosecution, speedy trial, punishment and execution by the civilian set-up, was part of the National Action Plan to quell crime, terror and insurgency. Analysing only partial success of the NAP, it has been attributed to non-implementation of majority of factors other than the Armed Forces role; those assigned to the Government. It eventually turned out that even the good work accomplished through Zarb-e-Azb was belittled by the Government as besides non-performance of its own part of the duties, it had also been dragging its feet on authorizing over 95% of the executions ordered by the military courts and done negligible little in carrying out the necessary reforms.
While being in a state of war and Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad in the country, the Government and the opposition instead of instantly authorizing the extension of military courts for speedy trial, have only last Thursday after dragging their feet for a good two months, indicated doing so conditionally on ‘give and take basis in State interest’. It is painful to learn that there has to be’ give and take’ even within political leadership on matters of dire State necessity. Their earlier suggestion to encroach the functioning of the military courts by inducting civilian judges and now restricting their ambit only to terrorists misusing religion and not all kinds of criminals, and to oversee their conduct through Parliamentary watchdogs reflect their lack of faith and confidence in the ability and intent of the military courts, which defeats their very purpose. But with these restrictions who are they trying to protect!
The political leadership needs to prove its own credentials besides translating its lip service into reality over sacrifices being made by the men in khakis for the motherland by post-haste carrying out the required Judicial, Police and Madrassa Reforms besides prioritised monitoring of the NAP through the national counter-terrorism Authority in order to eventually handle the task of law and order and security itself besides alerting themselves on other fronts. It would be quite in order for the Armed Forces to make it a precondition to extension of the tenure of military courts that the authorisation be across the board, and that their ordered convictions be speedily executed to serve as a deterrent to criminals and terrorists, without which it will remain a futile exercise and a gleeful reprieve for the enemy. The Government has to realise that it had already earned a lot of flak by playing into enemy hands with its conduct and utterances besides a lame duck posture to Indian machinations against Pakistan as it specializes in shooting itself in the foot.
There is now not an iota of doubt left that India was manipulating sensitive Afghan decision-making to continue destabilising Pakistan; an ingress it has never made any secret about, be they public admissions by the Indian Prime Minister, his Security Advisor Ajeet Doval or his ex-Army Chief Vikram. No wonder the Afghan Government in retaliation to the Pakistani list of terrorists availing its sanctuaries to attack Pakistan delivered its own more inflated one, undoubtedly fed to it by Indian Consulates anchored in Afghanistan. Pakistan rejected their list informing them that it was not only presumptuous but that any terrorist sanctuaries on this side of the border had been destroyed and most of names in the Afghan list either eliminated during Pakistan’s Zarb-e-Azb operation besides those who fled and were currently enjoying Indian protection and hospitality in Afghanistan. The Afghan Ambassador in Pakistan is on record having admitted that terrorists mentioned in Pakistani list were operating from areas which were not in Afghan control.
The Nation also requires a public apology from the Pakistani Defence Minister for his irresponsible utterance speaking the Indian language about Hafiz Saeed’s credentials at the Munich moot whose camaraderie is beyond any doubt. Hafiz Saeed who has been time and again framed and acquitted by the Courts of Law in the country has been desperately gunned for by the enemies of Pakistan besides seeking to have the likes of him such as Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Ludhianvi proscribed by the UN without any credible evidence against them. Hafiz Saeed has offered to face any charges if brought against him in a Court of Law, be it the UN or anyone else, but he has been detained by the Government without taking the people into confidence about his misdemeanour, whereas barring unsubstantiated allegations and sanctions by the UN nothing concrete till this day has been brought against him. His crime only appears to be his unflinching support to the Indian Occupied Kashmir struggle for freedom which the whole Pakistani Nation stands for. He is besides, at forefront of humanitarian help in the event of any natural disasters and enjoys respect and reverence of the masses.
So was the suggestion by Governor KPK to make peace with terrorists which not only deserves condemnation but also requires immediate explanation by the Federal Government which he represents. In a state of war that Pakistan is, let it also be declared that anyone in or outside the Government hindering steps to speedily nab and bring to justice terrorists or their facilitators, and those still mulling over the prospects of negotiating with terrorists be also declared and treated as facilitators, because such voices amount to dishonouring those who are laying down their lives for us all. The sooner the civilian dispensation realizes that its Armed Forces were not playing snakes and ladders but spilling precious blood to protect the Nation, and that their whole-hearted empowerment was the need of the hour, the better it will be for the beleaguered rulers.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.
Email: zaheerbhatti1@gmail.com