“Promises, promises, all we get are promises” – when is NAP being implemented anyway?

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    Tired of “hearing promises that we know they’ll never keep” (Money and Corruption –Ray Davies/The Kinks)

    What is more astonishing is that the recent Quetta attack was termed as an attempt to sabotage the much hyped China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which according to the government will be a game-changer and will ‘change the fate of Pakistan’. The business minded leadership of the country is – of course – more concerned about this ‘mega project’ than the ongoing security situation.

     

    “We are in a state of war.”

    “We will continue this fight until last terrorist is eliminated.”

    “We will take Operation Zarb-e-Azb to its logical conclusion.”

    This is what the civilian and military leadership said after the Quetta carnage. Similar statements were made after previous terror attacks carried out on Pakistani soil. Do these statements justify the lapse in security policy of our country?

    What is more astonishing is that the recent Quetta attack was termed as an attempt to sabotage the much hyped China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which according to the government will be a game-changer and will ‘change the fate of Pakistan’. The business minded leadership of the country is – of course – more concerned about this ‘mega project’ than the ongoing security situation. This comes as no surprise, as the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) – formed in 2013 to curb the menace of terrorism from the country – could not be made functional owing to lack of funds and the 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) formulated in 2014 after the deadly Army Public School attack has not yet been implemented.

    Another attack, another high-level meeting and now another high-level Monitoring Task Force is formed to monitor the progress on implementation of the ‘not yet implemented’ NAP. The Quetta tragedy has raised questions about intelligence failure as Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is being blamed for the terror attack despite its responsibility claimed by ISIS and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. Opposition leaders Khurshid Shah and Aitzaz Ahsan also slammed the government for its deferment in not implementing NAP and termed the Quetta attack as an intelligence failure. On this alleged ‘intelligence failure’, a new rift can be seen in the Parliament as the members of ruling party continue to defend their intelligence agencies.

    DNA spoke to former interior minister and Pakistan People’s Party leader Rehman Malik to know his views about the current security policy.

    We need to address the mindset of terrorists, revisit our Foreign Policy and take steps regarding internal security. We have a lethal nexus with India on foreign front, he said.

    “The enemies of Pakistan will try to break Pakistan, they will take every step to destabilise the country,” Malik said.

    About the National Action Plan, the former interior minister said that NAP should be implemented on priority basis. There are some legal hitches in NAP (for instance, the part about Madrassah reforms is not yet implemented). NAP was divided between Army and Interior Ministry; the Army has succeeded in carrying out an operation but Interior has not been able to implement it as it waited for other ministries to pass the related laws like criminal law, etc.

    About alleged intelligence failure, Malik said that we should be proud of our intelligence agencies and we are improving intelligence sharing among institutions.

    About NACTA, the former interior minister said that it is in place and is operational. It will coordinate intelligence. Malik was, however, quite hopeful about the security situation to improve.

    DNA contacted the federal Interior Ministry. They refused to comment, saying, “There is no issue from our side, we can’t do anything.”

    Security Analyst Ayesha Siddiqa while commenting on the current security situation said that the security policy is majorly formed by the military as civilian government has handed it over to them. Military has no accountability so such attacks are somehow military’s failure which terms these attacks as ‘collateral damage’.

    We lack a coordination system and the government tries to take non-state actors along, she said and added that there is a battle of who will lead. The military has its hegemony while ISI wants complete intelligence to be in its hands.

    “You have already taken a decision that you will end terrorism not extremism. Terrorism cannot end without ending extremism. The policy is being made somewhere else and implementation is demanded from someone else. Military has the hold of terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad, yet the civilian government is demanded to take action against them,” the analyst said.

    About NAP, she said that some of its points are being implemented but the media does not cover them. According to NACTA, she said, the death toll in terror incidents is not greater than 25,000, saying the figure of 60,000 is used for international media.

    Siddiqa was of the view that the situation cannot improve without proper coordination among institutions and a sense of ownership for the country.

    We need to understand that we are in a state of insurgency, the insurgents are a guerilla force. The whole country needs to be defended as the insurgents can choose any target after every few months, said another analyst Ayaz Amir.

    DNA contacted the federal Interior Ministry. They refused to comment, saying, “There is no issue from our side, we can’t do anything.”

    “The Army and intelligence agencies are doing their job but the priorities of civilian leadership are somewhat different. They are interested in flyovers and signal-free corridors that can give them political advantage,” Amir said while commenting on the delay in NAP’s implementation.

    Similarly NACTA, the analyst said, was an effort to build coordination but it only exists on paper.

    The interest of civilian leadership lies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Balochistan has been made an outsource.

    Amir said that Operation Zarb-e-Azb has improved the situation as Army has created a barrier, they have cleared the safe havens of terrorists. We can see the immediate grammatical results of this operation which is Army’s top priority. However the situation, Amir said, can only be improved through determination and resolve.

    Notwithstanding the geostrategic importance of Pakistan, and Balochistan in specific, of which some say this ‘war’ is all about, the security policy demands immediate attention as the terror attacks will not do anything good but will make this territory a permanent conflict zone.

    No doubt, the incidence of terror attacks has reduced owing to the military’s grand Operation Zarb-e-Azb. But before reaching – what our military and government say – this operation’s ‘logical conclusion’, God knows how much illogical human loss will this country suffer. The lives of thousands of people which have been claimed in these incidents of terrorism make no sense or logic at all. The state has unfortunately failed to give the citizens of this country their fundamental right of ‘security’ as the lives of hundreds of people is at stake every day and no one knows if they could be the next target.

    Almost 70 years since the creation of this country, it has always been a high time that the civilian and military leadership ponder and make a comprehensive security policy without any conflict of interest as the responsibility on this part lies not only on the military but the civilian leadership as well to get their priorities straight.

    The NAP, formed two years ago, has not been implemented so far which pretty much explains the extent to which our government is concerned about terror attacks and how untiringly they are working to ‘eliminate the last terrorist’ from this country. Why do we have to wait for a major attack to present a show of ‘national unity’, why not unite and make a concrete strategy ‘before’ to curb, in real, the menace of terrorism?