Mullah Mansour issue: Foreign and interior ministries on trial


Salahuddin Haider

THAT the drone death of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour few days back, would whip up a storm in Pakistan, was natural, but the incident simultaneously raises a number questions, each more sensitive than the other, as to whether this was a time for moaning about the country’s sovereignty, or whether it should prompt us to do some soul searching about the conduct, efficacy, and efficiency of our State organs.
In the words of President Obama, he was eliminated for being threat or obstacle to US forces in Afghanistan, and for peace in the war-torn country. But more significant was the statement from American head of State that his country would work with Pakistan in ensuring peace in the region, and would ensure a terrorist-free Pakistan.
All these words had their own connotations, and when uttered in a given situation, are bound to assume meaningful dimension. Questions, will, naturally, and did arise about his statement. Different interpretations came to the fore as to the intent of the US President, but while debate about Pakistan sovereignty having been violated was fully justified, the bigger issue simultaneously for discussion, was whether a State, victim of terrorism, had the right to hot pursuit?
The issue in second category, could easily be answered in affirmative. The right to hot pursuit has been internationally accepted. All that the Pakistan and the US authorities must ensure is that the concept of hot pursuit should cause not concern or kill the comfort level of those living in Pakistan.
President’s assurance that he will cooperate with Islamabad in ensuring a terrorist-free Pakistan, should be taken full advantage of. A lot of ground work will have to be done by our Foreign and Interior Ministries to work out cool and calculated approach to benefit from the American intent to its advantage.
But the question is also being asked whether the two most sensitive ministries, had the skill and ability to convince Americans that a mutually advantageous plan needed to be put into practice—a plan that should satisfy America, and concurrently be beneficial to Pakistan and its inhabitants.
Suspicions arise in the minds of the people because of the American handling of the Afghan, Iraqi, and Libyan situations, but Pakistanis are a skillful people. They want the Taliban to be out of their lands, but they wish to fight it out themselves. Their security forces had done a tremendous job in crushing the cobra of terrorism, and know fully well how to protect their homeland.
That message ought to be conveyed to United States in terms simple and convincing. Their support for logistics in the form of weapons, or technical assistance, would be welcome, but allowing foreign troops on our soil will generate strong resistance. America should be conscience of that, which we hope it is. It will not do anything annoying.
The only thing that has often been worrying for the Pakistanis, is the lack of confidence in the ability of their foreign and interior ministries. Such a negativity has to be done away with. Their worries seem complicated because of somewhat strange and slow response from the two important ministries on issues like the Mullah Mansour topic. Pakistan has often been found wanting in responding in time to emergency situations and suffered immeasurably. To say that Foreign and Interior Ministries will now be on trial, would neither be under or over-statement. It will be a statement of fact.
Questions like opening a new frontier for drone operation in south-western Balochistan, and rocketing a car carrying Mullah Mansour and his taxi driver well inside Pakistan border between DalBandin, and Noshki, are valid ones. But while the Americans must be following the deceased since long, and must have tracked him down while crossing the Iranian border into Pakistan, the Pakistan interior ministry and NADRA must satisfy the people as to how strangers can so easily secure their country’s National Identity Cards, and Passports, and even were able to travel to foreign countries. NADRA must review its system, without causing any discomfort to genuine Pakistanis.
Adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz had admitted in the national assembly that Taliban were living in Pakistan, and being loked after to be used when necessary for bringing their people to conference table with Afghanistan. But does that mean giving them normal facilities and treatment equal to Pakistani citizens? Certainly not. The foreign office and interior ministry policies have failed to rise to the occasion. Allowing Mullah Mansour, a die-hard terrorist, to live in Pakistan under the name of Wali Mohammad, and using Karachi airport for travel abroad, should be a matter of disgrace to Pakistani authorities.
This was, for the first time that America, and that too at the level of head of State announced use of drones within Pakistan. No such announcements were made before for drone strategy in 390 other cases, all in FATA or KPK areas. However prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement that he was informed of the incident at 1030 p.m. on the night of May 21—six hours after Mullahh Mansour had been killed, has been protested by the foreign office, but can such lame-duck excuses be acceptable to the people of Pakistan? That questions now need to be answered. Pakistan foreign office and Interior ministries have been willing allowing space to unelected regimes, and now find themselves in a mess.
The second question that needs to be answered now relate to sovereignty issue. We are a sovereign State no doubt. But to be sovereign and independent in real sense, Islamabad need to work out a more independent strategy to shed dependence on foreign agencies like IMF etc. People chained to foreign dictation on utility bills, and on PIA and Steel Mill privatisation, need to stand on their feet first, before claiming pride in their being really independent.
A nation, really proud of itself, and called truly patriotic, alone can face the world, and resist pressures. Politicians and administrators, army all together, must instill that feeling in the people by pursuing policies that could let them feel that they are truly independent and can face challenges on their own.

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