Putting our own house in order

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Let collective wisdom be the final arbiter

 

Not long ago, Pakistan was branded as epicentre of global terrorism. Quite a large number of terrorists, arrested outside Pakistan in different countries, were either of Pakistani origin foreign nationals or their links somehow could be traced to Pakistan. Either they had flown into Pakistan to “get indoctrinated into Taliban ideology” or receive specialised training in terrorism.

Thanks to Army Chief General Raheel Sharif this perception of Pakistan being an exporter of terrorism is slowly getting diluted, especially after the initiation of Operation Zarb-e-Azb — an all-out war on terrorists in Pakistan since June 15, 2014.

After having lost over 50,000 civilians and sacrificing the lives of nearly 10,000 security personnel of all rank and file, perception about Pakistan has slightly improved. Having been through bloody travails of a never ending violence imposed on us following military dictator General Ziaul Haq’s pyrrhic decision to be American Knight Templar against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and subsequently General Musharraf’s mindless kow-towing to the dictates of American General Colin Powell to be with Washington, specifically on the terms of “either you are with us or with them”, in President George Bush’s post 9-11 crusade, Pakistan had been sinking in the quagmire of uncertainties and instability.

Despite our successes since June last year, it is still far from over. General Raheel shall have to take the cognizance of elements like Maulana Abdul Aziz of the Red Mosque once again blowing hot with his religious venom as well as the likes of Hafiz Saeeds who continue to masquerade as divinities with devil’s agenda hidden up their sleeves.

In the background of the successes, big or small, achieved by Pakistan in the war against terror not adequately recognised by our so-called friends in the west for whose sins we have been paying for, it is heartening to see Pakistani leaders like Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif offering the expertise acquired through blood, toil and tears to those countries that are now gradually finding themselves confronting terrorism of their own making.

It was music to the ears to hear our Prime Minister offering Pakistan’s anti-terrorism expertise to French President Francois Hollande when he called on him in the Maltese capital to offer his condolences on the recent Paris terrorist attacks. He extended to France Pakistan’s cooperation in counter-terrorism and in the field of intelligence sharing. After all we have now come to be some sort of experts on terrorism having come of age fighting terrorists of all sorts for so long.

Change in command in the Army hierarchy in November 2013 brought in a new thinking and a fresh approach for an effective counter-narrative. Though late yet a little later would have been too late. Army Chief General Raheel Sharif launched the overdue Operation Zarb-e-Azb in June 2014 in keeping with the countrywide consensus to root out terrorism of all sorts as well as to eliminate violent sectarianism.

However, despite our unaccountable sufferings, one is deeply hurt to hear oft-repeated demand of us to do more from those who are responsible for our traumatic plight as well. And it seems that despite our painstaking efforts to dispel the perception that we are the villain of the piece, we have still to go a long way in getting rid of the albatross of being accused as harbourers of terrorists.

This perception will not go unless we put our own house in order. Orchestrating of civil-military on one page mantra, divergent statements by the ministers, contradictions on almost every issue between words and actions — whether it has to do with the presence of IS/Daesh in Pakistan or to play cricket with India or not — are a manifestation of a state of mind worst confounded.

No doubt the government marketed National Action Plan as a panacea to all our terrorist ills following massacre at APS in Peshawar. Its stakeholders seem to be at loggerheads on its performance. Here one would not like to comment on the indictment of the civilians by the recent corps commanders meeting, a cause for generating so many controversies and unending rumours. However, notwithstanding the fact that the praetorian outburst was a natural reaction in a grave situation, it was surely a transgression of the constitutional parameters.

Pakistan is in a state worst confounded. No one knows whether who is going and who is coming. It is neither here nor there. Foreign visits abroad, so-called red-carpet welcomes, awards and honours are just icing over the cake loaded with a powdered-keg inside. The need of the hour is to convene the committee of the both Houses of the Parliament, if need be in camera, to discuss threadbare where we stand and in which direction we are drifting. Let collective wisdom prevail as the final arbiter.