Dawn News

A question of will

LIKE a political hot potato, the issue of consensus keeps getting passed around. First the army suggests it cannot launch a military operation in North Waziristan unless there is a political and public consensus. Now President Zardari has said that a consensus — on key issues of national security, not just a North Waziristan operation — is not possible because the civilian political opposition is unwilling to engage the government. And the political opposition is sure to reject the president’s claim and suggest that it is not being consulted meaningfully on any matter, so there is no real role for it. Meanwhile, the main issue — developing a national consensus against militancy, radicalism and extremism — goes unaddressed: a country faced with a growing threat is unable to decide how to counter it. With no one seemingly willing to lead the way and with the logical institutions for such decisions moribund — the Defence Committee of the Cabinet isn’t strong enough, the parliamentary committees on defence and national security are still struggling to find their feet, and the national security adviser slot remains unfilled — perhaps the government and the army need to develop a special mechanism to draft and formalise a national policy against militancy, extremism and radicalism.

A starting point could be to rationally demarcate the various strands of conservatism and Islamism: religious political parties that operate within the constitutional framework are very different from the violent non-state actors, for example. That would help both isolate the real threat and placate conservative political elements that the war against militancy isn’t a surreptitious plot to nudge them out of the political arena. From there, the next step could be to articulate a clear, realistic policy on Afghanistan, the link between militancy in Pakistan and the state’s quest to dominate Afghanistan being fairly well-known though rarely acknowledged. The last step could be to define and articulate the threat from militancy inside Pakistan: identify the various groups, explain their agenda and outline what needs to be done — militarily, politically, governance-wise, etc — to purposefully end the threat.

Will the government and the army demonstrate the necessary leadership, though? The problem is an old one, at least a decade old since the world changed on 9/11 and Pakistan struggled to accept that the sell-by date for non-state actors had passed. Throughout the Musharraf era — when there was no real distinction between the military and civilian leadership — the ambivalence towards militancy and the reluctance to adopt a zero-tolerance policy bedevilled policymaking. A decade on, the problem is more complex — hence the question mark over the will to do what’s necessary.

Comments (9) Closed

Oct 23, 2012 06:55pm
Don't worry ! America will never awaken.
Oct 23, 2012 10:34pm
you are confused yourself
Iftikhar Husain
Oct 23, 2012 11:26am
The editorial has defined the problem clearly and also suggested the solution that is the right direction for the government to take. Militancy will not go away without doing anything. It is the time now to act before the foreign forces leave.
Oct 23, 2012 04:31pm
Dominate Afghanistan is a day dream for Pakistani rulers,whose country stands isolated and is on verge of colossal calamity.
Oct 23, 2012 03:44pm
why r u ppl dying for an operation in north wazirstan
Oct 23, 2012 05:19pm
You are right Pakistani society is partly talibanised and religious leaders and political leaders like Imran Khan are directly or indirectly support them. More western media support persons like Malala, it shall go in favour of taliban and radical elements will endorse taliban and hatred against west in Pakistan shall increase. World should leave Pakistan alone, let them decide their on future and type of life they want to have whether they want to live in dark ages from which prophet mohammed PBUH tried to take muslims out into modern world, or they want to go with prophet and progress with rest of the world by interpreting his teachings in light of the changing world.
Oct 23, 2012 06:46am
Is it so difficult for people to decipher the fact that the country is fully Talibanized and TTP and its affiliates will survive because of overt and covert support of those in Power. Diversionary tactics have been used for 65 years to ensure that the real issues cannot be discussed and status quo for those power brokers is maintained. A moderate voice now and then will be heard to keep up pretense so Aid keeps flowing. Sooner or later the World will awaken to the fact that they are feeding the wrong animal.
M. Asghar
Oct 23, 2012 05:12pm
Unless the different institutions: political, security, juridic, have their respective responsilties are clearly defined in an accountable manner away from the present general feudal lawlessness, nothing can happen to help solve the problems the country is facing.
danish munir
Oct 23, 2012 09:05am
Government of Pakistan is not in a position to start a new operation in North Waziristan because of number of reasons .If pakistan government starts military operation then there will be more terroristic activities and violance from militant groups and government is fully responsible for adverse consequences of this operation.