Whither ceasefire


With blasts and killing unceasing, government has a lot to answer for

The fondness of the government to resolve the issue of terrorism through talks alone has taken away its attention from vital measures that need to be undertaken to improve the internal security. The National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) which was to be the centerpiece of the government’s anti-terrorism policy remains marred in disputes caused by interior minister’s tendency to bring as many institutions under its thumb as possible. The Authority was originally visualised as an independent body answerable directly to the prime minister was subsequently brought under the interior ministry’s control. While this was rejected by the opposition, it also led to litigation. Reservations shown by senior officials of the interior ministry and intelligence agencies over the restructuring of NACTA have jeopardised the revival of the key organisation. The Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO), another pillar of anti-terrorism policy, has yet to cross the hurdle of the opposition dominated Senate. Failure to revolve a consensus over the controversial Ordinance may lead to the Senate blocking it.

The government is totally depending on the sometimes-on, sometime-off talks with the TTP for the restoration of peace, little realizing that numerous terrorist groups are outside the network’s discipline. There is also a perception that some of the groups which continue to attack do so under a well thought out strategy devised by the TTP to extract more concessions from the government during the talks.

Blasts took place in two provinces and the federal capital on Tuesday with varying intensity and scale of damage. In Islamabad initially 18 people died when an explosion occurred in the Sabzi Mandi area of the Metro shopping center. It is the height of incapacity on the part of the Interior Minister who had vowed, within days of being sworn in, to turn Islamabad into a show case city vis a vis security and good administration. The attack has sent a wave of insecurity in the capital with people complaining that the government has failed to provide security of life to the citizens. The train blast in Sibi has already taken a toll of 16. In the case of Balochistan, the government has gone to the equally harmful other extreme of total reliance on force without any initiative of talks with the insurgent leadership. The United Baloch Army has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack also exposes the failure of the Railways Ministry to maintain proper watch and ward system at railway stations.

There were three blasts in Hyderabad, though no loss of life was reported. The mistakes committed by the LEAs in Balochistan are being repeated in Sindh through forced disapearances and extra judicial killings. This has to be stopped.

A progress report on talks with the Taliban needs to be presented before an APC. Ch Nisar must drop his abrasive attitude and take the opposition on board to update the policy on talks and terrorism in general.