Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal
THE Quetta carnage of last week had shocked the entire nation. Both civilian and military leadership expressed their resolve to combat the menace of terrorism. The government announced the creation of high-powered committee led by National Security Adviser Lt Gen Nasser Janjua (Retd) implement National Action Plan. The common man, however, seems pessimistic about the claims of the ruling elite. The people distrust of government policies is perilous for national security. The lack of confidence in the national security policy not only encourages the apathetic attitude towards the elected government, but also dangerous for the security institutions reputation. The adversarial forces comfortably exploit such a situation to maximize their advantages.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif once again reiterated his resolve to implement the 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) in totality.He announced the constitution of a high-level task force to monitor the execution of the NAP. “Restoration of complete peace and tranquillity shall remain the top priority of the government and all the state institutions… It was agreed to establish a high-level task force to monitor the progress of implementation of the National Action Plan,” The task force comprises ‘senior representatives of all concerned departments and agencies of the Federal Government and the Provinces’. Certainly, these statements would be having temporary soothing affect for the victims of Quetta.
Importantly, the government seems helpless in addressing the lacunas or hurdles, which obstruct the implementation of the NAP. For instance, the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) has not evolved as a viable institution. In 2013, the Interior Minister Ch. Nisar Ali had announced a plan of action to make NACTA a functional institution to combat the threat of radicalisation, militancy and terrorism. The government, immediately, announced the new recruitment process in the media. Many people applied for the NCTA jobs. Without giving any reason, the recruitment process was quashed at the eleventh hour. Many opine that NACTA remains an ineffective authority due to the institutional competition and lack of the national security vision.
Although the internal security of the state is the responsibility of civilian law enforcement agencies, yet the role of Army in restoring and sustaining the authority of the state is fundamental in the prevalent domestic situation in the country. Since the beginning of war on terrorism, Pakistanis have been suffering from the transnational terrorist organizations actions. The local criminal and radicalised groups not only joined hands with the transnational terrorist syndicate led by Al-Qaeda, but also facilitated the penetration of hostile nations spy agencies in the country.
The Indian intelligence agency RAW and Afghan intelligence agency NDS penetrated and created networks in Pakistan. Prime Ministers advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz claimed that ‘Afghan intelligence agency NDS is known to be indirectly supporting TTP groups and there is also collaboration between NDS and Indian intelligence agency RAW’.
Indeed, the harmony in thinking and convergence of opinion between the elected ruling elite, military leadership and people of Pakistan is imperative for national security of the country. Without trust and cooperation between the political and military elite combat of menace of terrorism in the country is impossible. Nevertheless, the occasional meetings between the Army Chief and Prime Minister generate impression about the harmonious working relationship between the political and military leadership.
The intelligence failure, once again, was declared a cause of bloody attack in the Quetta hospital. A few government coalition partners in the National Assembly and a section of the media directly and indirectly alleged the intelligence agencies. They demanded the accountability of the concerned officials. Not with standing the critics’ intention, the plea for the concerned officers accountability is a correct demand. Without adopting a dispassionate accountability policy and creating a balance between rewards and punishment the improvement in the law enforcement agencies would remain a wishful thinking.
Importantly, the vindictive speeches by Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) an ally of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani of the JUI-F, who heads the Council of Islamic Ideology at the floor of the National Assembly on the role of intelligence agencies and armed forces of Pakistan were out of context. Instead of focusing on the real issue, they tried to divert the attention on their personal political agendas. Conversely, the opposition members targeted Prime Minister foreign policy, ie’ peaceful neighbourhood.’ In addition,
While responding to the government’s political allies critic, the military elite expressed its serious concern over the implementation NAP. On August 12, 2016, General Raheel opined: “The National Action Plan is central to achievements of our objectives and its lack of progress is affecting the consolidation phase of Operation Zarb-e-Azb.” Lt Gen Amir Riaz, Commander Southern Command categorically stated: “Conspiracies are being hatched against Pakistan externally as well as internally.” Nevertheless, Prime Minister and Interior Minister tried to control the damage, but their speeches have diverted the attention. Instead of focusing on terrorism, people start debating civil-military relations in Pakistan.
To conclude, rhetorical claims, constitution of NAP implementation committee and blaming the intelligence agencies are not constructive method to eliminate both the terrorists and terrorism. It only creates mistrust in the society, deteriorates the morale of the law enforcement agencies and above all further worsens the depressing situation. Precisely, it’s perilous for the national security.
— The writer is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.