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OUTRAGE, shock, condemnation, the requisite conspiracy-peddling and then back to business as usual, ostrich-like — the same tragic pattern after every new atrocity by militants is playing out once again. For a country that is increasingly suspicious of and hostile to the outside world — a reality that is very much reciprocated by the outside world — the death of several foreigners hardy enough to try and visit one of Pakistan’s most spectacular tourist sites does not appear to have caused much of a convulsion, particularly given the near-daily litany of death and violence that Pakistanis themselves have had to face. In any case, for those who are increasingly prone to seeing every foreigner in Pakistan as a spy or a Blackwater agent or a Raymond Davis, the reality of what happened in Gilgit-Baltistan on Sunday may not sink in. Surely, though, the loss of already scarce tourism rupees and dollars for a region that has few other economic opportunities should be of concern to fellow Pakistanis? It appears not.

While perceptions will take time to change and ownership of an unpopular fight against militancy may take even longer, the onus is on the government to at least provide a road map for fighting militancy. Up and down and across the breadth of the security and intelligence apparatus, there is an understanding that what is lacking is institutional cooperation inside an overarching framework in which a clear and coherent counterterrorism strategy is set out. And to achieve that, there have been few ideas as sensible and relevant as the National Counter-Terrorism Authority. In the dying days of the last parliament the Nacta Act was finally passed, seemingly bringing to an end the years-long turf war and desultory activities of Nacta. But while the new government has pledged to infuse Nacta with a real sense of purpose and direction, already it appears that the patterns of old may quickly reassert themselves, ie promises instead of action with meaningful and sustained follow-up.

The purpose of Nacta as a research, policy-formulation and coordination body is well known. Less well known are the difficulties associated with creating a new institution and finding enough elbow space for it to operate in a crowded arena, especially one where the relevant military-run intelligence agencies look down on their civilian counterparts as inferior and unworthy of serious cooperation. Without strong political will and a team to run Nacta that is both professional and independent, little will change. Still, it is not inevitable that nothing will change.

Comments (7) Closed

Mirza Asad Baig Jun 25, 2013 12:04pm

Very well pointed out. The Nacta should not have any retired or serving military personnel, else it will go the highway and become another tool with the military (read Army) to perpetuate its hold on the security policy making.

iqbal carrim Jun 25, 2013 03:50pm

The bitter truth is that terrorism has hijacked Islam which now needs to be rescued.In Pakistan,both the army and the police acting/operating in the parameter of law and order remain the only viable option.

Eddied Jun 25, 2013 05:34pm

Yes you need a policy to stop terrorists? Boston two terrorist killed 3 people and injured many more and they were tracked and captured in one week...after 45 thousand have been killed in Pakistan over 10 years you are now discussing the possibility of a policy to deal with these murderers?....wake up Pakistan before it is too late...or maybe it already is...

bubba Jun 25, 2013 07:11pm

With the American getting ready to leave Afghanistan it's becoming apparent that all those years of blaming terrorism on America's WOT were nothing but anti American blather. The harsh reality is setting in - once the American's are gone terrorism may increase not go away.

BRR Jun 25, 2013 08:06pm

Setting up new layers of government, especially when old layers do not work, is no plan for success. You need to clean house in the old layers first, or just shut them down so that they do not become a drag or impediment, to the new layers to be set up. Nothing like that is hapening, just adding new layers of fat to an old dying body.

Feroz Jun 26, 2013 10:57am

NACTA or not is a debating issue, the real issue is to overcome militancy and reestablish the writ of the State across its territory. It boggles the mind that no one in any security set up has been held accountable for the security and intelligence failures. Considering that Pakistan is probably the only country where Defense gobbles up about half of all Government revenue, the failures stand compounded manifold. A wholesale revamping of the security apparatus is very necessary. Without weeding out of Taliban sympathizers the performance of the security forces will remain compromised and the money to maintain them will continue to flow down the drain.

KS Jun 26, 2013 09:52pm

@Feroz: It is not so much an issue of security and intelligence failure as much as one of political will. If the government sincerely wants to take action it can do wonders. But when the political leaders themselves are in cahoot with the gangsters and terrorist then no amount of intelligence will work. It is common knowledge that they provide shelter and protection to the criminals. The Defence forces themselves cannot take any action. If they do then they are accused of acting outside the law and are liable to be prosecuted.