Setting priorities right


Zaheer Bhatti

HAS Pakistani leadership ever bothered to contemplate why the curse of militancy does not end despite comprehensive combing operations by Pakistan’s Armed and paramilitary Forces? In anybody’s common estimation the reasons are three-fold: 1) Failure of the political leadership to address poverty and rising unemployment which have been allowed to brew and become one of the main root-causes of terrorism motivated internally and exploited externally. 2) Half measures in implementation of the National Action Plan with practically no stakeholders except the Armed Forces carrying out their tasks of the Plan. 3) Infighting and political gamesmanship oblivious of external security threats to the State.
While the spectre of machinations against the resource rich and exploitation of the resource-starved Muslim nations looms large, the Islamic Ummah not only continues to be in disarray but its principal components at loggerheads with each other precipitated by the unfortunate ethnic divide which is being exploited to the hilt by forces inimical to the Islamic faith.
Within Pakistan, the political leadership bragging about its conciliatory efforts among warring Muslim Nations is bound to be disregarded as it is itself caught in a web of deceit, rancor and blame-game amongst themselves totally oblivious of the political fallout and scenario being built around Pakistan. You do not merely rely on quoting from the scripture and the deeds of your forefathers from the times of the Prophet (PBUH), or seeking forgiveness and expecting to be pardoned without following the edicts and performing to make amends. God’s mercies will descend only on such people and nations who act and not sleep on.
Mal-governance and the country’s education and health sectors being a continued story of neglect, there are areas of immediate concern which if left unattended will land Pakistan in an abyss of destruction from which it will find itself difficult to extricate. Madaris reforms and reformation of the country’s Police Force have been frustrated by the lack of will and foresight by the political leadership, and failure of the clergy and religious parties to build a cohesive national narrative. One has heard a lot against Religious seminaries imparting extremism and becoming the nursery for terrorism which is inspired by imperial forces and furthered by their mouthpieces amid the Pakistani society. But worse still is the fact that the religious leadership keeps tongue-tied without challenging the evil discourse besides offering their seminaries for scrupulous inspection to thwart enemy propaganda against a voluntary religious education service which should be prepared to mainstream its curricula into modern education.
If the negative narrative being built about Madaris had any substance, all you needed to do was to identify them, prove their misdemeanor, close them down and punish the offenders. Seeking instead, to gag their funding or force out chapters on Jehad and the caliphate from their curricula, amounts to falling prey to Zionist conspiracies against the divine faith.
As for the Police, one finds it at the roots of all social predicaments in Pakistan today. It is this Force which is supposed to have been guarantors of security of men and material and to provide an environment conducive for the safety of people, their honour and belongings. It is they who ought to have been and should be the main source of identifying any clandestine or shady movement in the context of the current spate of terrorism. More importantly, it is the job of the police force to identify and dig out facilitators of terrorists; those who provide them space and place to anchor in the environments of their chosen targets, as police force are the ones who are supposed to know the antecedents of all residents in their jurisdiction.
For any successful terrorist attempt and consequent loss of life and property, it is the Police Force which must be held accountable and where heads must roll each time. It is not good enough to keep complaining about lack of facilities and arms. Yes, they are ill-trained and become sitting duck targets for the enemy because they are not only ill-trained but mostly illegally deployed on protocol duties of those who deserve no security leave alone protocol as their constituencies have been rendered so vulnerable. As to the performance of normal duties to solve people’s problems, the Force is a far cry and their stations a place dreaded by the citizens rather than being considered sanctuaries for their protection they can look up to.
With the Force carrying an indelible stigma of being an exploitative entity right from its inception, there has been a perpetual fall in its credibility if any during the past several decades starting with riding bicycles to motorbikes, and then to petrol cars and armed vehicles. But the psyche and performance of the Force has suffered steep deterioration ever since it has been allowed to become independent of the time tested Commissionariat System with its Chief in the Provincial Government now enjoying top Grade-22 compared to the maximum 20 when the Police performed relatively better and more diligently. There are indeed exceptions among the Force even today of which the Nation is proud, but a general decline is worrisome and needs radical shake-up and reform rather than cosmetic surgery.
Externally, more than trusting or relying on anyone, Pakistan needs to trust itself and explore its own potential rather than rely on crutches of International donors who are agents of imperial forces slowly tightening the noose around Nuclear Pakistan. Ishaq Dar who brags about certification by International donors about Pakistan’s economic health needs to answer a simple question to the people of Pakistan; who will pay back the trillions of dollars of debt burden being accumulated by the country under his weird borrowing ability, and how!
Self-reliance being the only key to development, when you continue meeting donor conditions without a whimper at the cost and peril of the common man who you continue to strangle with rising prices not only impairing its buying capacity but virtually making it impossible for them to survive, you are actually contributing to creating a class of deprived people ready to be bought and sold. This is criminal negligence and apathy to the woes of the people and dereliction of national duty to the subjects of the State.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.

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