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Dangerous truths

Published Oct 28, 2014 06:29am


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The writer is a retired police officer.
The writer is a retired police officer.

“THE truth is never as dangerous as a lie in the long run,” wrote the late Ben Bradlee, editor of The Washington Post whose exposé of the Watergate scandal led to a president’s resignation. Pakistani state and society have to face the truth that the hydra-headed monster of militancy has permeated every institutional, social and political portal of power, and the war against it cannot be won through military means alone.

As illustrated so vividly in Quetta in recent days, sectarian terrorists, political insurgents and regional purveyors of violence are fully exploiting the fault lines that the state machinery has failed to address through a comprehensive national security policy.

How do we get out of the mess we have created on account of faulty and unwise state policies pursued for over three decades? What use is an unimplemented and ownership-deficient National Internal Secu­rity Policy (NISP) that was unveiled with such fanfare by the interior ministry earlier this year? A headless National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) with an ineffec­tive legal and organisational framework reflects policy paralysis resulting from turf battles within the government’s civilian and military components.

It is time we put our house in order. The prime minister has to take some quick and tough decisions to galvanise the state apparatus to combat the scourge of militancy.

The first and foremost task is to bring all the federal and provincial governments as well as the military and civilian security agencies on the same page against the mortal threat posed by the militants. The National Security Committee (NSC) should come up with a policy that unequivocally declares that no militant organisation will have the covert support of the government and its agencies. The state should completely dissociate itself from the proxies created in the past.

The Quetta killings show how militants can exploit state apathy.

Second, the prime minister should appoint a professional internal security adviser to imple­ment NISP and coordinate with all the federal and provincial stakeholders as well as agencies dealing with terrorism and militancy.

Third, Nacta has proved a non-starter with the government unable to find a suitable serving BS-22 police officer as its head and the issue of placing the authority under the prime minister or interior minister still unresolved. Setting up a new organisation will take time. However, the NSC should constitute a national intelligence directorate under the internal security adviser for strea­m­lining intelligence gathering and sharing to enable effective anti-terrorism operations.

The ISI should deal with militants with external links and agendas, including those operating from Fata. The ISI’s counterterr­orism wing should be given legal protection under the Protection of Pakistan Act to formally detain and interrogate TTP and foreign-linked militants. The Intelligence Bureau and police, including crime investigation departments, should focus exclusively on sectarian terrorism.

Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) and other banned groups will continue to flourish if the activities of their patrons and facilitators are not curbed and their movements not curtailed under the Anti Terrorism Act.

Moreover, the activists and criminal elements associated with them are known to local police; they should be detained and interrogated by joint investigation teams in a countrywide crackdown.

Fourth, religious extremism can only be curbed through zero tolerance against hate speech. The state has looked the other way for far too long. The virulent mullah-militant combine has done irreparable damage to tolerance in our society. The provincial special branches and local police should monitor and regulate the use of loudspeakers in mosq­ues and madres­sahs and keep an eye on wall chalking as well as printed material aimed at creating sectarian trouble.

Fifth, firm gun control is now required as gun-toting militants mock the state by silencing voices of dissent through violence. The police will have to play a major role in the recovery of illegal lethal weapons.

Balochistan needs these measures: one, con­­s­ti­t­uting a joint task force of police, Frontier Corps, ISI and IB to apprehend and bring to book known LJ militants in order to stop Hazara killings. Two, the kill-and-dump strategy against Baloch activists has to be curbed and no private militias allowed under state patronage. Three, the role of police and its jurisdiction should be gradually enhanced and the FC restored to its original mandate of border control. Four, the chief minister should be given the mandate and the autonomy to win back the ‘angry Baloch’.

Above all, the heartland of militancy is the Punjab province. The real battle will thus be fought in this most populous and prosperous region. This dangerous truth has to be faced by our security and military establishment. The lie has had a long run. It is time to change course and adopt a saner path for a peaceful and prosperous future.

The writer is a retired police officer.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2014

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (51) Closed

Kublai Oct 28, 2014 06:53am

The PM Nawaz should make the '..quick and tough decision..' he should vacate his throne and go in immediate exile to Saudia. He has two palaces there. One with 32 rooms. The other 19 rooms. He can enjoy all the luxuries, plus seek forgiveness and atonement for his sins In Mecca or Medina. Month by month.

sapeace Oct 28, 2014 06:58am

The steps outlined need a huge political will and courage which current rulers do not have,the situation is made more difficult by opposition which has time and again has had a soft corner for these killers .Except BBZ who at least offered a verbal challnage to these elements rest of the politicians are either sectaraian themselves or appease them, So good luck

AYZA Oct 28, 2014 07:08am

Excellent steps illustrated by Mr. Khosa to contain violence in Baluchistan. Let's hope these constructive measures can be implemented especially when our arch enemy to the East is so mired in destabilizing Baluchistan at any cost.

Ahmed Oct 28, 2014 08:07am

Atlast some sane voice from Pakistan. I hope Pakistani government or if you can call it that, implements some of the steps which you have mentioned.

A Z Babar Oct 28, 2014 08:40am

An eyeopener article. To curtail the current situation of lawlessness all the provincial and the federal government should come on the same page regarding eliminating this menace. Improved Intelligence sharing between military and civilian security agencies should be one of the foremost priority. We have also to distinguish between the Mullahs that work for their own clandestine agendas from the ones that spread the truth and harmony.

BRR Oct 28, 2014 08:49am

rather unrealistic. How can the Pak governmetn do this - "unequivocally declares that no militant organisation will have the covert support of the government and its agencies", when neither the army or the government has ever acknowledged having supported militants and proxies? The whole world knows that the Pak army and govt. have supported proxies for decades, and continues to do so. Like in the 12-step Alcoholic anonymous program - the first step is to acknowledge the problem. Since the pak military and govt. will not even acknowledge the problem of having created proxies who hurt them now, there can be no easy remedy / plan / solution.

Gary Oct 28, 2014 09:13am

Expecting way too much...

Shaukat Chughtai Oct 28, 2014 09:19am

@A Z Babar True narrative by Mr. khosa. It is an eye opener article. Whole nation needs to go through this candid and true truth.

Shawn Oct 28, 2014 09:19am

@AYZA but no one considers you as enemy. Don't worry!!!

javed ali Hasrat Oct 28, 2014 09:32am

yes u suggest good idea

Dilip Thorat Oct 28, 2014 09:33am

And Last and most important, start hunting confirmed terrorist first, rather than suspected terrorists.

Dilip Thorat Oct 28, 2014 09:33am

And Last and most important, start hunting confirmed terrorist first, rather than suspected terrorists.

Ash Oct 28, 2014 09:44am

when "non-muslims" are 2nd rate citizen, seeds for hatred are sown. such seeds are picked up by "more-mulsim" who will hate "less-muslim" and you have current Pakistan.

Can you really treat everybody as equal? or do you continue to have religion as basis of your policy? Will your political class commit political suicide and try to do something useful?

Maybe start with education and plan for upcoming generation. Unfortunately current generation is lost.

Sunil Oct 28, 2014 09:47am

All suggestions falls on deaf ears, to contain the sect violence. The killers must be having political connections, who are still not apprehended.

Ahmad Oct 28, 2014 09:48am

When the sitting government ministers like Chaudhry Nisar, Raja Zafar, Rana Sana etc have close ties and cordial links with militants like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Jamaat-ut-Dawa then how come this government take serious actions against terrorists?

Old Ravian Oct 28, 2014 10:00am

As rightly mentioned in the article, the real problem lies in the territorial wars among different agencies. The mandate and limitations of the agencies are not drawn out. Thus a single agency is "dealing" with terrorists, kidnappers, corruption and politics. There is a need to clearly define roles and fix responsibilities.

ashraf Oct 28, 2014 10:00am

The author confirms the worst fears of many Pakistanis, i.e. the lack of long term concrete and institutionalized steps. This is despite the pain the country has been subjected to for so long. Is anyone listening in Islamabad???

imtiaz ali Oct 28, 2014 10:13am

sir u r right ...but our military and government is not interested in curtailing the situation

Sajjad Khan Oct 28, 2014 10:50am

@Kublai Very true Kublai Khan, what about accountabilty of the origion of his "fortune" first before he leaves, as he may set anexample for tose who follow his footsteps as PM?

Akhil Oct 28, 2014 10:58am

Excellent article but any one reading?

Satish Kumar Dogra Oct 28, 2014 10:58am

A bold, truthful, straightforward article. Appreciate your thinking. Pakistan needs thousands like you today.

Akbaruddin Oct 28, 2014 11:00am

A rare realistic article but unfortunately it is wasted on people who are detached from reality.

Wells & Frogs Oct 28, 2014 11:20am

This analysis suffers from myopia. You wish to change so much yet you haven't addressed the underlying reasons of these problems. And you sound more like a dictator. Where is the national debate? Discussion with stakeholders.

ashok Oct 28, 2014 11:35am

Nice article but a utopian dream. Will the Pakistan Army ever listen to this. And what can Nawaz Sharif do. The moment he tries something he will have an Imran and Quadri sitting on his head. Only if Sharif toes the line drawn by the Army will the puppets Imran and Quadri be drawn back.

turtlehead Oct 28, 2014 11:39am

All this is useless, the people are bitter and their lives destroyed, give them what they want.

Tejaswi Oct 28, 2014 11:54am

Looks like a dream for Pakistan..

One needs to understand that religion has no business in Politics. Politics and government has only one aim.. give justice to its people. No sane person should be persecuted and no perpetrator should be able to escape. The more you try to do it the better you become as government. The most important thing in this all is that you should do it without any partiality.

Syed Aziz Oct 28, 2014 12:12pm

Too many cook spoil the food. Too many experts free to comment.

Bureucrat Oct 28, 2014 12:28pm

After retirement Police Officer give free advices. But when in service they say "All is well".

Why don't you people do all these things when you are in service?????

Awam Oct 28, 2014 12:44pm

Nice Article. Spot on recommendations if we ever wish to come out of our current problems. It is however a daunting task to tame intelligent agencies to report back to Government here. When the reality is Government is already weakened by the current dharna drama and due to that had no option but to seek blessing from the army and in turn give space to them to let them do whatever they want to do.

EmEn Oct 28, 2014 12:52pm

Totally agree. The Government, whoever is Prime Minister, must take up these suggestions if Pakistan to survise.

The next step is to appoint a panel of Pakistani educationists, who are not associated with any political/religion organization, to design a 21st Century curriculum for not olny madrassahs but all public as well as private schools - the curriculum that creates/develops Pakistanis, not extremists who do not have any allegiance to Pakistan.

Akbaruddin Oct 28, 2014 01:04pm

Intimate proximity to proxies is the real problem. You can't keep poisonous snakes in your backyard and expect them to bite only your neighbors.

Feroz Oct 28, 2014 02:05pm

Law and Order as well as internal security has collapsed in Pakistan and poses an existential threat. Fundamentalism, extremism and terrorism poses grave challenges not just to the country but the wider region at large. This threat can only be overcome by providing better training and Arms to the Police Force and freeing it from all forms of interference, Political and Military. The job of patrolling, making arrests and prosecution should be within the sole domain of the Police Force and not Military or Intelligence Agencies, who should be allowed to only provide inputs, not investigate. Police should not be taken in by the religious or ideological affiliation of the different criminal or terror group, all being bad for the Police without exception. The loss of a single life should be a stain on the record of the SHO under whose jurisdiction the killing takes place. The role played by the beat Constable in keeping a watch on the role played by outsiders cannot be overlooked, they need to be empowered to cultivate a network of informers. The country cannot afford a bloated Military when the country has become half its size, instead a bigger budget should be allocated for policing and Police Reforms.

Imran Oct 28, 2014 02:06pm

@BRR "The whole world knows that the Pak army and govt. have supported proxies for decades, and continues to do so." So what? Every army and every govt supports proxies in one way or another if it sees it fit to do so.

Mohammed Oct 28, 2014 02:17pm

Atleast in some articles like this it is evident that Pakistan supports militants. As the auther says, it is high time to retrospect and correct the grave mistakes and focus on economic prosperity.

Kamal Gupta Oct 28, 2014 02:26pm

But the state still nurtures fanatics for possible future use against Afghanistan, India, and possibly Iran. The brutal leaders of Taliban who ruled Afghanistan still live in Pakistan.

Jat Oct 28, 2014 02:30pm

The writer - How do we get out of the mess we have created on account of faulty and unwise state policies pursued for over three decades? -

Easy. By doing more of the same.

I am sure you noticed how the military has kept a loaded gun to your prime minister's head and forced him to reverse his foreign and trade policies. It is to be noted that these policies were part of PML(N)'s election manifesto, and by voting him into power, the Pakistani population had voted in favor of these policies.

Jat Oct 28, 2014 02:34pm

The writer - The first and foremost task is to bring all the federal and provincial governments as well as the military and civilian security agencies on the same page -

Who will bell the (fat) cat ? Military is on top of the food chain, the rest are mice.

Ammy Oct 28, 2014 02:34pm

Very timely suggestion and a positively right way to go to make a progressive nation. But who will bell the Cat i:e Army generals ? Would they allow this ?

Qahaar Oct 28, 2014 03:14pm

Punjab is indeed the epic center of religious intolerance.

Mansoor Oct 28, 2014 03:16pm

Reform Pindi, Islamabad reforms automatically.

vcbhutani Oct 28, 2014 03:20pm

This paper has my unreserved endorsement. If its ideas are taken up by government and seriously implemented, it can produce good results, which people in Pakistan will appreciate. V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, 28 Oct 2014, 1550 IST

kayenn Oct 28, 2014 03:45pm

The writer has given a factual view of the present scenario and how to tackle the extremist view. he has forgotten one important point and that is till the time there is a state within a state, environment will never improve. When he talks of Mullah / Militant combine, he is forgetting a very important element and that is Military.... it is the Military / Mullah / Militant combine, that has to be tackled for Pakistan to come out of this mess.

Jat Oct 28, 2014 03:47pm

The writer - the chief minister should be given the mandate and the autonomy to win back the ‘angry Baloch' -

Very interesting ! In any other normal democracy, the chief minister would automatically 'have the mandate', but here it has to be given, and that too on advice of a retd. police officer.

Now the prime minister has already given the mandate to Abdul Malik, and so have most of the political parties, and their MNA's in the provincial assembly. And yet, and yet the chief minister of Balochistan does not have the mandate. I wonder whose permission is still awaited... hint hint... could it be the same "kill and dump" crowd ?

Mohammed Oct 28, 2014 05:01pm

@Imran You seem not to get out of the dirt instead spread it. I wish you get nice experience yourself soon to realize that you are drowning.

Muhammad Oct 28, 2014 05:04pm

I would totally agree with you Khosa, but you have been part of the bureaucracy and know very well that so-called political rulers in Pakistan don't seek their strength from the people of Pakistan, rather they believe and rightly so in foreign powers to ensure their rule and benefit from the same. Unfortunately, until these rulers will believe in democracy and the power of the people as voters nothing will change. They will keep creating gimmicks as a few mentioned in your article, but never with the intention of actually delivering.

Danesh Oct 28, 2014 07:07pm

These steps will never ever be taken in Pakistan.

Arun Oct 28, 2014 11:22pm

For the first time (I think) I see an unequivocal voice raised here against the 'virulent' mullah and his poisonous speech! This is likely one of the root causes of the current problems, the others being lack of education which can equip youth to persue a productive life (rather than sit idle and then succumb to the mullah). Would someone heed all this advice? Would someone translate this in the vernacular news papers?

Zulqarnain Sewag Oct 29, 2014 12:46am

Wonderful, thought and policy provoking Article. We can get rid of this menace by truly acting upon the suggestions suggested by the Respected and Reverent Writer.

John Oct 29, 2014 01:21am

I am not sure - how many of these terrorist attacks are used for political or personal goal settlement?

Irum Chaudhry Oct 29, 2014 12:17pm

Both articles have logical insights into Pakistan's internal security Situation

wellwisher Oct 30, 2014 01:34pm