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NAP implementation

Updated Mar 11, 2017 09:03am


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Once again the military leadership has called for a quickening of the pace of implementation of the National Action Plan, but will the demand, even if the sentiment is shared by the civilian leadership, finally lead to the desired results?

The problems are several and exist on both sides of the civil-military divide. Consider the public demand by the military, a week after a closed-door, high-level summit with the civilian leadership presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

While that meeting resulted in a bland statement by the Prime Minister’s Office claiming that the fight against militancy and extremism would be pursued aggressively, the ISPR press release after the corps’ commanders’ conference on Thursday made clear that one side believes it is doing more than the other.

The military view is not new, nor entirely inaccurate, but it does raise the question whether such public interventions, interpreted by many as a rebuke, are efficacious. If the war against militancy is to be waged together, as it must, by all elements of the state, there must be an emphasis on trust-building and cooperation.

There is also the problem of specifying and narrowing the actions envisaged under NAP. Instead of championing specific actions, the tendency is to broaden them when they face predictable resistance from quarters opposed to the full implementation of NAP.

The demand by the military for the government to pursue “madressah/education” reforms is a case in point. Overall curricula reform, a matter largely in the domain of the provinces, is important, but the public schooling system is not generally considered an incubator for extremists and militants. The problem is more prevalent in the madressah system and some madressah networks in particular. Tackling extremism while wary of being attacked by the very elements propagating it is a non-starter.

Finally, there is the issue of whether the military leadership inadvertently gives the political leadership further reason for inaction.

The revival of military courts, clearly at the urging of the military leadership, will once again postpone the regular criminal justice reforms that are so desperately needed. Admittedly, the political leadership had demonstrated no keenness on criminal justice reforms, but the dismantling of military courts after the 21st Amendment could eventually have created the kind of pressure necessary for a strengthening of the regular anti-terrorism judicial system.

Instead, the political class is once against being shepherded towards populist measures that will surely erode belief in the supremacy and irreversibility of the democratic process itself.

To be sure, the civilian leadership suffers from indecision and uncertainty of its own making. Few statements by the senior civilian leadership at the centre or in the provinces suggest a real willingness to take ownership of the fight against militancy. But there ought to be no alternative to slowly but progressively helping the civilians take charge.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2017


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Comments (10) Closed

Syed F. Hussaini Mar 11, 2017 07:56am

The interaction between the civilian government and the military can be redefined by placing the contact and communication protocol between the two within the procedure of through proper channel.

Contact and communication with the military must be initiated exclusively by the civilian authorities, in person or by phone, through the defense ministry alone, barring military personnel from attempting on their own any contact with the civilians; military personnel should appear at a civil government office only when summoned through the defense ministry with written directives.

The ISPR press releases must go through the information ministry via the defense ministry and be issued only if approved by the ministries.

The madressahs can be nationalized overnight with a stroke of pen and turned into primary, secondary and high schools.

The Prime Minister must look into the eyes and say no to any military courts--just a flat no.

It is doable!

Ameer taimoor Mar 11, 2017 09:01am

I think military courts for anti terrorism is not a permanent solution. Both systems should work together as criminal justice reforms is the direly need of the time. At what time civilian governments will depend on the military.

Feroz Mar 11, 2017 11:07am

@Syed F. Hussaini You have gone to the crux of the problem, known but never talked about. Ever wondered how foreign dignitaries often bypass the civilian government and go hold talks directly with the military top brass. This practice is not allowed in any democracy where all talks can only be held with diplomats and government Ministers.

AW Mar 11, 2017 01:24pm

Parliament needs to work on development and implementation of serious Judicial reforms - there are no alternatives if we desire to be a stable and progressive country

Syed F. Hussaini Mar 11, 2017 01:58pm


Thank you, Sir!

We are still a family--200-million-strong.

The outsiders come in focused on their limited agenda.

They don't care about us but anyway history is witness no outsider had ever ventured to dream of messing with a mass of humanity as big as we are--200 million people.

At best they come in pretending to liberate people from the regime as some move in to keep the regime as in Syria.

We don't want to be a Syria.

We can talk to each other--peasants to landlords, workers to employers, politicians to generals, people to people.

Only if we could talk more.

Freedom of speech helps.

We can resolve our domestic disputes without any foreign interference.

We can do it.

We will do it.

Thanks, again.

El Cid Mar 11, 2017 02:54pm

The military should stick to its duties and responsibilities and try to be competent at them.

AW Mar 11, 2017 04:32pm

The focus should remain on patiently building and strengthening the civilian institutions without short cuts for political expediency in order to build and sustain a strong nation. Strength and credibility comes from full participation of its citizens in the government affairs backed by a justice system which works for the people

The self righteous attitude and behavior has already done harm and extensive damage to the country. The premise and rule for working together to build the nation needs to be based on the belief that all citizens are equal in love for their country while assumptions and claims of superior love by selected groups or classes of citizens should stand rejected. It is the tolerance of divergent views and approaches which shall unite us in purpose.

All institutions should work within their constitutional responsibilities to do their respective jobs successfully. If we are able to follow this discipline, we can be the great nation envisioned by Muhammad Ali Jinnnah

ANSARI007 Mar 11, 2017 05:26pm

It is clear from the discrepancies of our government that Pakistan needs military courts with or without the Criminal Justice System Reforms. Let's be clear that the Military Courts offer us what the civilian courts cannot: the steadfastness, speedy trials, and rightful redemption of our brothers murdered by these vicious and barbaric militants.

hassan Mar 11, 2017 09:26pm

@Syed F. Hussaini Any kind of reform is the last thing in the minds of current politicians. All they are interested in is loot.

Syed F. Hussaini Mar 13, 2017 05:32am


Yes, Sir! True.

Only the people can and will reform the system as @AW above suggests "...patiently building and strengthening the civilian build and sustain a strong nation."