There is much talk about the debacle at PNS Mehran airbase. Divergent opinions have been flaunted with regard to the security failure at the site and apportioning. There has even been a demand for convening an open joint session of the parliament to discuss the terrorist attack on the naval base in Karachi.
First to the call for a joint session of the parliament: I think the demand defies logic in the wake of the non-implementation of the decisions taken at the last joint in-camera session of the parliament, specially the one relating to the constitution of an independent commission to look into the US incursion into Pakistan on May. Not only that there has been no movement on the issue, there also appears to be no hope of the same happening any time in the future. Then the resolution about the blocking of the NATO supply route if the drone strikes continued: the predator attacks have persisted unabated, but the government and the parliament are in deep slumber. Are these parliamentary sessions only about scoring cruel political points, as they appear to be or, are they ever going to carry any meaning to restoring the much-trumpeted ‘sovereignty of the parliament’ – a trick that is jointly employed by the two leading political parties of the country to perpetuate their self-serving claim on power.
Saying that there was a security breach at PNS Mehran would be an understatement. Anyone defying that reality, as indeed some experts have attempted to do, is tantamount to saying that the sun rises in the West. What is, however, obvious is that if the kind of security mechanism that was in place at the base is persisted with, breaches would continue in the future. Given that a successful terrorist attack has taken place in a high security zone resulting in immense human and material loss would also be incentive for the miscreants to undertake such operations in the future. So, what are we doing about it? On the face of it – really nothing! Just about everything, the pre- as well as post-incident, has been faulty. As always, the interior minister’s briefing was comic in content and presentation. The Chief of Naval Staff’s contention that Navy was not to blame for the breach needs a commission of enquiry of its own. What is even more worrisome is that, according to media reports, he blamed the adjoining air force establishment of the security lapse. Is it that, in addition to the political players enacting gruesome scenes on media channels, we are also going to witness our services chiefs blaming each other in public for such incidents? Wouldn’t this be construed as violation of service discipline?
Pakistan seems to be losing the battle to control violence which seems to be increasing both in frequency and intensity. The death of Osama bin Laden has further incensed the extremists who now seem bent on taking their battle into a different zone. But, the fault lies squarely with us and our myopic and servile ruling clique – including the inept and clueless opposition. The very concept of Pakistan being part of the US-led ‘war on terror’ is grievously wrong. This was never Pakistan’s war and will never be. Pakistan’s leadership has only made it so because that is why they were inducted into power in the first place – vide the inimitable National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). They were brought in as replacement for an errant dictator so that they could improve upon his sell-out. That they have done so impeccably is a testament to their having bartered Pakistan’s sovereignty for a stint in power to advance the US cause. It is them that the people of Pakistan have to deal with first. Everything else would fall in place as a natural sequel to their ouster.
What is frightening, though, is that there are increasing question marks about the army’s conduct. The fact that the army played a role in the framing of the NRO is a given. But, what is disturbing is that the so-called ‘democratic’ government is being allowed to barter Pakistan’s strategic interests without a check either from the parliament or the judiciary. The former has been rendered totally irrelevant as all decisions are being taken in the presidency, while the edicts of the latter have been flouted blatantly and repeatedly. One understands that the army is not interested in playing a political role – and for a number of good reasons, too. One also understands that the democratic process should not be impeded. Should it, therefore, follow that the game of selling Pakistan out would continue unabated?
The government having lost its legitimacy, the parliament having rendered itself subservient to the will of an individual and the judiciary having been deprived of its moral authority, what are the options that the state of Pakistan has been left with to ultimate extrication from this abominably erroneous concept of a ‘war on terror’ which, by all logical descriptions, has degenerated to becoming a ‘war of terror’? There is only one two-pronged solution to this advancing demonic incursion of Pakistan’s security paradigm. First, immediate induction of a credible, legitimate and sovereign government under a fully independent Election Commission and transparent voters’ lists that would re-evaluate Pakistan’s security interests and formulate a mechanism for their protection and advancement. Second, in an environment of a steep and rapid degenerative cycle that Pakistan seems caught up in, and much that one would want the army to stay out of this, it cannot shy away from playing a role that is clearly envisioned in the constitution vide Article 190: it has to lend unquestioned support for ensuring implementation of all judicial decisions. Some of them have awaited implementation for long while others, one understands, are not being issued because of fear that they, too, would meet a similar fate.
In the event the above is not undertaken without any loss of time, one fears Pakistan would be rapidly sucked into a whirlpool of self-engineered catastrophe. That would be truly tragic and a waste of such enormous potential! So, account for now, or be held accountable – by history.
The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at [email protected]