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Quetta inquiry report

Published Dec 17, 2016 12:56pm


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The catalogue of errors, mistakes, oversights, criminal wrongdoing, hubris and policy misguidedness is so overwhelming that it is scarcely possible to read the report of the inquiry commission on the Aug 8 Quetta bombing of the legal community.

Surely no state apparatus in a country and in a province so wracked by violence for so long can be allowed to be so utterly incompetent in so many ways. Yet, the report of the inquiry commission led by Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa lays bare such sweeping failures as to call into question the very edifice of the country’s counterterrorism and counter-insurgency strategies.

To be sure, there are no easy, readymade solutions to what is destined to be a long war. By its very nature, the fight against militancy is not something a conventionally oriented state security apparatus can do automatically and immediately.

But Balochistan has had a militarised security policy for more than a decade, military campaigns have been waged in every one of the seven agencies of Fata and counterterrorism operations have been conducted for years from Karachi to Peshawar. By now, the stunning failures laid bare by Justice Isa should have been addressed to a great extent.

Two things stand out in the panoply of wrongs catalogued in the report. First, a meaningful policy change can only be built on an explicit rejection of past policy. From the Afghan jihad in the 1980s to the state redirecting militant energies towards India-held Kashmir in the 1990s, Pakistan’s problem with militancy is rooted in deliberate choices that became self-inflicted wounds, but the state has never acknowledged this.

Even today, responsibility for choices made willingly and egregiously is largely deflected towards external factors. The Cold War and Pakistan’s alignment with the US is blamed for the original embrace of armed jihad. The proxy wars between oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Iran are blamed for the rise of violent sectarianism in the country. But through it all, it was the state’s complicity with militant groups for parochial agendas that allowed the creation of an infrastructure of jihad that the country is now struggling to dismantle. The denial of the past must end.

Second, the state needs a zero-tolerance approach towards militancy. No more prioritisation of the fight against anti-Pakistan militants while tolerating the growth of other groups. No more treating some banned militant groups as more deserving of punitive action than other banned outfits. No more asking the world to be patient while demanding it do more to help Pakistan fight selective battles.

Yes, tactics and strategies against different groups will necessarily have to be different, and different regions will need different approaches, but in principle and in philosophy there must be clarity that all militant groups will be dismantled and that Pakistan will be cleansed of militancy, terrorism and extremism. Total clarity, total commitment — there is no other option.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2016

Comments (20) Closed

onlineshenanigans Dec 17, 2016 01:28am

send the report...

cereal killer Dec 17, 2016 05:28am

It's high time if pakistan want peace ,prosperity and respect in world than it will have to eliminate all forms of terrorism

Muneer Dec 17, 2016 08:04am

Nothing is going to change.

admit the reality Dec 17, 2016 10:45am

Better late then never observations. Pakistan State and its people have to learn to know and acknowledge the truth, what the world has been telling Pakistan "to do more"is not for nothing. This country has lost thousands and thousands of precious souls, and one of the reasons is that editorials such as the one about should have appeared about 10 years back. Until we have the courage to call a spade a spade, this nation is going to keep suffer. Because we are too afraid of our countrymen.

Venu USA Dec 17, 2016 10:46am

If the reason for DAWN's bold and frank editorials has basis in the desire of the people of Pakistan, your country will see peace and prosperity. The road ahead may be tough and long, but there are no alternatives. If and when Pakistan shuns its ambivalence and goes after all hues and shades of militancy, the world will truly stand by it. Hatred breeds hatred, spread tolerance, love, and understanding. Best wishes!

Abbas Naqvi Dec 17, 2016 11:05am

Though the security situation in the country has somewhat improved, thanks to successful army operation Zarbe Azb under former army chief Gen. Raheem Sharif, much more is still needed to be done to eliminate terrorism, extremism and terror outfits from Pakistan. Hope the new COAS will continue the campaign until final victory. Meanwhile, the govt. should also adopt a strategy to hit at all terror groups without any discrimination. No terror group can and should be considered a strategic assets. They are the sworn enemy of the country and deserve to be annihilated completely if peace, security and stability are to return to the country.

Asif Dec 17, 2016 02:24pm

Only the way forward is to invest in people and when I say "invest", many of you know it means invest in education, health, agriculture etc. But alas, we have got our priorities somewhere else.

Shahid Dec 17, 2016 05:35pm

Dearth of truth in this neighborhood will downplay this rare ray of naked truth as well.

Basit Ali Dec 17, 2016 05:56pm

Pakistan authorities need to do exactly what this article says--confront head-on the extremist groups who use the garb of religion to legitimize their crimes.

Capt C M Khan Dec 17, 2016 06:21pm

Every one knows this except the country's so called leaders and other persons with RESPONSIBILITIES. Evading Responsibility, Passing the Buck you name it everything is here. Thanks to the Courageous Judge to put it in an official document. RIP Fellow countrymen there will be NO CHANGE.

Abdul Muqtadir Dec 17, 2016 07:12pm

East Pakistan tragedy is being repeated in Baluchistan.

ashar Dec 17, 2016 08:23pm

Double Standards of the establishment

D Patel Dec 17, 2016 08:30pm

A very well articulated intelligent editorial report with a balancing act from both sides of the coin. This is a role model editorial for other news media organizations and an exemplary one for teaching editorial skills in schools for journalism.

ashar Dec 17, 2016 09:04pm

Justice HamoodurRehman Commission report should also be issued officially and implemented in letter and spirit.

Roger Dec 17, 2016 09:14pm

This is blowing horn in front of deaf administration where deep rooted age old thinking, biases and alignments are going to be difficult to change unless new open thinking and new blood is inducted at higher levels of all branches

Rehman Dec 17, 2016 10:03pm

It's just another self-bashing , defeatist minded editorial that sees everything from the point of view of 'others ' . And that's one big problem of our country.

ATif khan Dec 18, 2016 12:48am

Well said. To be fair, Pakistan's soft image has slowly begun to improve. This is a multi-decade journey which our childrens-children will see. Their sons and daughters will travel and study anywhere in the world - Pakistan will become an International venue for Squash, Cricket, Hockey, Snooker, Soccer - Tourists from Iran, India, Afghanistan, China, Britain, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Australia will frequent our scenic spots, hotels and markets - Our renowned Universities will attract the best from all over the world - Our culture and identity will be recognized the world over - and we will again become a nation at peace with ourselves and our neighbors

Vijay Dec 18, 2016 02:41am

Why do I get the feeling that I have heard it all before? Many, many, many, many times before.

Ahmad Dec 18, 2016 05:49pm

Plz stop writing scathing truths.sacred cows can be irritated very easily.

Counterpoint Dec 18, 2016 07:17pm

Very powerful editorial indeed. Called Spade a spade.