A change of heart

Posted by Admin On Saturday, 25 January 2014 0 comments
A question in dire need of tackling: whether or not we can ‘go get ‘em’? In the recent years Pakistan has contemplated many possible solutions to our biggest problem. As the Venn diagram of possibilities expanded to the likes Sequoiadendron giganteu, the people remain equally perplexed. We place the blame on our leaders’ shoulders, while the government remains silent, except when ‘regretting’ a tragic incident. Since the government has been elected in May 2013, and more than seven months after taking the oath, negligible progress can be seen.
The beginning of 2014 has been with a new wave of violence, as polio workers, Shia Muslims and the police/ security forces have been targeted even multiple times in a day. The Mastung attacks on the Shia pilgrims followed by a two day sit in by thousands of Hazaras, refusing to bury their 28 dead till justice was reached, have pushed a long due operation. Khawaja Asif, the defense minister, admits the hour is crucial for a forceful decision.
Chaudhry Nisar in charge of anti-terrorism strategy is the key man in this equation. While last month all energy was channelized towards the ‘drone’ killing of TTP leader Hakimullah, it wasn’t shocking that only this week a study revealed how harmless the notorious drone attacks have been to the peace loving citizen. One might want to ask: Why now? Why after all the hue and cry and international attention towards sovereignty woes? Why after Jemima and her lobbying for a safer Pakistan, when the case was all ready for the International Criminal Court? Why after Nabila and her family went to Washington to ask for justice of their grandmother’s death?
The “sabotaged” peace efforts with the TTP have been smoothly brushed aside. Because drone strikes were never all that bad anyway, we are now told. Now, in the face of relentless attacks by the TTP, Nisar is ready to admit that those Taliban who have spurned his offer of talks will have to be dealt with severely. But by the government’s own admission, only six or seven groups out of some 60 or so have indicated a dubious willingness to talk. This means that, for all intents and purposes, talk of serious peace negotiations with the TTP is off the table.
Imran Khan, the spoke in the wheel, has also changed his stance visibly in the aftermath of TTP attacks on the army and polio program. Now you must understand: the “good” Taliban are not like the “bad” Taliban (who are carrying out the attacks), Khan stresses. Much as he hates the Nawaz League and wants to extract optimum mileage out of the PM’s indecisiveness and anxiety, even he can’t pretend that the TTP comprises ill-advised souls who just need some tender loving.
Even Baby Bhutto has called Khan a coward in his latest, more impressive, address. Enough anti-Shia sentiment has been earned, now is the time for remedies, and while the media also takes a suave shift towards an operation as the sole solution; he must pick his side astutely.  To make matters worse, a recent fatwa has caught fire and turned to dust any remaining sympathizers and Jihadi cause. The 29 page fatwa criticizes media houses and journalists and put out a hit list.
Lastly GHQ is seething with rage. The army has retaliated against TTP strongholds in Mirali with punitive might without a thought for civilian casualties. Can we consequently predict that a military operation is on the cards against all Taliban strongholds? Can we expect the prime minister to address the nation and tell us why he has been compelled to take off the velvet glove and reveal his iron fist?
The army has longed for an appropriate law to tackle terrorism without fear of incompetent courts and faulty prosecution out of fear. In effect, the government has finally pushed for a Protection of Pakistan Law under which the law-enforcement agencies will have more powers to detain and prosecute terrorists. This is akin to much needed sweeping legislation enacted by countries most severely hit by terrorism like the US, UK, India, etc. The idea behind pushing through the law is to strengthen the hand of the military and administration as the fallout of the impending military operation in which thousands of terrorists may have to be rounded up.
If you think the stakeholders are all on the same page, then hold on, not yet. A serious problem looms at hand that threatens our resolve: The Supreme Court’s crusade against the secret military agencies of the state that are responsible for the “missing” persons of Balochistan and FATA. The timing of the new legislation has seemingly annoyed the judges. Justice Jawad Khawaja, heading the SC bench hearing the missing persons’ case, has challenged to determine its constitutionality. Clearly the bench is distrustful that the new law may thwart the SC’s heroic efforts as the knight in shining armor, bringing justice to the people.
If a new military operation is reliant upon a new law but the new law fails to meet with the consent of the SC and is either struck down or diluted, a state of acute tension between key stakeholders of the state will be inevitable. The first casualty of such state of affairs will be the war on terrorism itself. The end result of such conflict of interests may force the military to take one-sided, ad hoc disciplinary action in which no captives are taken, which would fall far short of a required full-fledged anti-terrorism stratagem in which all key stakeholders are on the same page.


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