IN five days, ten terrorist’s hits in all provinces laid the bitter facts bare about national action plan (NAP). Except its military part, it continues to reside in doldrums. The military part could only fetch temporary gains which it did splendidly. It bought us the time and relief at high expense in blood, dust and discomfort to implement its civil part which unfortunately remains at start and stop with no right and steady hand on its tiller. Increasingly both the gains are being squandered at the hands of our compliancy and indifference to the sense of responsibility and urgency. It is not the first time that poor nation has suffered most grievously by the scourge of terrorism after initiation of NAP.
Each time our response has been stereotype and knee jerk. Few statements of condemnation, reiteration of empty resolve, summoning of high level meetings and formation of monitoring committees make it all what our government does to assure the nation that next time calamity of such horror will not visit us. Admittedly, their trick works domestically because our nation is exceedingly a simple minded nation, fallen in wilderness nevertheless, it falls flat in front of monster of terrorism because phony deeds only embolden them. It is more than two years when NAP was launched and Pakistan is still groping in labyrinth of terrorism. It raises huge concerns and calls for urgent reflection.
Earlier threat of terrorism inside Pakistan, mainly emanated from our own tribal areas, now it is from across the Afghan border where runaway groups of TTP have found refuge and support under the umbrella of RAW and Afghan intelligence agency with tacit approval of USA. It seems that they are fast regaining their eroded operational capability under their patronage. Notwithstanding, a long, arduous and cumbersome logistic tail which now they have to traverse to operate inside Pakistan, they have recouped enough to bleed Pakistan pinch fully. It is no overstatement as evident from the statement of our Defence Minister Khawaja Asif wherein, he has sought serious cooperation of Afghan government on bilateral basis to combat terrorism.
Previously it was a serious unilateral demand of Afghan government only. It bitterly reminds a fact of recent past. Pakistan was reluctant to launch military Operation in North Waziristan but had to do it as a part of our own war against terrorism. It was thrust upon us by our adversaries. Now they are up in different way but our mode of function remains unchanged; burying our heads in sand even in face of fast approaching impending threat. No remorse, guilt and regret has ever been seen on faces of our ruling elite when they blame foreign hand operating in Afghanistan behind recent occurrences of terrorism while conveniently forgetting that it is because of their colossal diplomatic failure despite having strong cards in their hands. At the moment, probably Pakistan holds no trump to induce a good sense in their heads effectively.
Largely time and relief provided by operation Zarb-i-Azb, we have consumed leisurely. Pushed by force of circumstances, we have now launched another operation Radd ul Fasad to uproot terrorism from our streets and alleys but with no different start and substance. The operation Zarb-i-Azb was launched by Army alone and government took time to own it, being inevitable. Again operation Radd ul Fasad has been launched by Army and government is content to lag behind in a pursuit of national dimensions. At the time of initiation of NAP, Government was faced with the problem of constitution of military courts for speedy trial of miscreants and terrorists. Now again the problem is same. It speaks volume that we have not moved even an inch out of our effort zone as well as comfort zone to revamp judicial criminal system. The requirement was overwhelming and all-encompassing; root and branch reforms.
Previously political consensus on the question of military courts was reached relatively early, now it is more wayward for host of reasons. It is a widely established fact that success of counter terrorism hinges on the work of civil administration because it has the authority, infrastructure and diversity. Moreover, it is more intimately involved in work of everyday life. Police station is the pivot. It is the place where surveillance, intelligence, investigation, collection of evidence and forensic data, case building and prosecution ought to be done. In our case it is an object of jobbery, bribery, incompetency, contempt and disdain. Overall civil administration stands in a state of stupor and paralysis because of politicization, corruption, nepotism, incapability and lack of training and resource constraints. It is one of the main reasons that NAP is in lurch.
The statement of Chief of Army Staff is very loud and clear that India is behind terrorism in Pakistan. Mainly it is the land of Afghanistan from where it is calling the shots in collusion with Afghan government and USA. Some of their objectives are mutually parallel and some are mutually exclusive. Given Pakistan’s geo- strategic position and CPEC, this collusion may entail their long term relationship, necessitating a delicate and deft handling. To the contrary, neither Pakistan has a dedicated foreign minister nor concrete foreign policy in this regard.
If read between the lines, it will clearly show that we do not hesitate to embark upon disastrous course. It certainly reinforces the theme lying underneath Dawn leaks. Ostensibly by and large political leadership showed agreement and collective approach at the time when NAP was put on the table but now they differ more for want of petty political gains and undue inducements. Their drabbing on issue of FATA reforms and renewal of establishment of military courts in the country vividly illustrate the contention in point. The lack of political ownership weaken national narrative, resolve and action against terrorism. The repeated outsourcing of their onerous responsibility to Army may not be able to yield even what it did earlier.
Pakistan has been confronted with a tough and long drawn battle of terrorism, fuelled by our erstwhile and formidable adversaries. It calls for a united, robust, innovative and unflinching response to end the conflict as early as possible. The task is enormous and challenging. The key is a capable and self-denying civilian leadership at the helm. Present lot has repeatedly proved unequal to the task. It lacks the mettle, will and calibre. It prefers to follow at the tail whereas, requirement is to lead from the front and hold the bull by the horns.
Without pang of any kind, they have deputed Army to act as matador to charging bull of many kinds. Entanglement of Army over a long period of time in pursuit of ghost hope of enduring solution has implications of its own. It causes fatigue, attrition and wear and tear. This may be the trap of our adversaries because they fully know that Army is only mainstay of Pakistan.
— The writer, a retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Rawalpindi.