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Militancy gives new descriptions to old excuses

December 24, 2012

PESHAWAR, Dec 23: Militancy is a consequence, a scourge and a threat. It serves as a punishment to a nation for no sins of its own but the making of its decision makers of the past, plagues its hopes, and undermines its future.

It also tends to be a challenge and an opportunity to achieve national cohesion while fighting it out.

But in our case it is a tormentor than a nation builder. Its capacity to harm has exposed us to multiple intangible problems. It has become a one big elusive monster that has affected our psyche, strengthened fear mongers among us, and provided a protective shield to the incapable and inefficient. It is held responsible for all of our ills.

Being excessively used as a lame excuse to hide official inadequacies, incompetence, and incapacity, it has become a curse and a bleeding wound.

The long porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan has always been held responsible for smuggling foreign products into Pakistan. Geography is an easy prey. It suffers from its own voicelessness, innocence of the dead. The very nature of the border between the two troubled countries is now being held responsible for the cross border movement of militants.

Why don’t we admit our law-enforcement agencies’ failure instead of holding geography responsible for the illegal movement?

Our development planners, too, have got a ‘potent’ reason in the shape of militancy to hide their inefficiencies and systemic flaws. We have already become used to the oft-repeated official excuses for delays in development projects because of militancy. Were they completed in time before the militancy overshadowed the national scene?

Militancy has an added factor when it comes to delays in development works. Seldom have the people at the helm of affairs acknowledged that the state machinery lacks the capacity to develop the underdeveloped areas. Seldom has it been accepted that a colossal part of the development funds ends up in the pockets of unscrupulous elements from among the official, business, and political circles concerned.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government recently told the Peshawar High Court that its ban, in a suo moto notice, against the export of cattle and poultry products to Afghanistan has given rise to smuggling, benefiting militants as they charge ‘Rahdari’ to smugglers.

Doesn’t it imply that the government has admitted its incompetence and inefficiency?

By holding the court’s ban responsible for the increase in smuggling the provincial government has attempted to put the former in a difficult spot, covering the administration’s failure.

Militancy is certainly a complex issue. There can’t be quick fixes to defeat it. It has unleashed multidimensional problems, requiring extra ordinary effort from the political leadership and civil bureaucracy to put up an effective resistance to it.

None of the successive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments, in the recent past, ever experienced the extent of opulence that the sitting provincial government has been enjoying for over four years.

The extent and flow of money that the provincial government enjoyed since it assumed the office more than four years ago should have, in principle, improved infrastructure, bettered service delivery, and reformed governance. But that is not the case. One thing that’s abound, these days, that one comes across quite frequently is a number of corruption tales involving members of the Awami National Party and Pakistan People’s Party coalition government in the province.

Militancy has added to poor governance, mismanagement became more acute, and the general public’s interest has slipped further down the priority list of those holding the public offices.

There is a growing need to achieve cohesiveness in our effort if we have to defeat militancy and its negative impact.

We can’t protect ourselves by only erecting innumerable security checkposts in and around our cities without launching effective strikes against militants deep in the tribal areas.

We can’t put a complete end to the menace of cattle smuggling without improving border controls and plugging loopholes in the administrative system that is being massively used by a few, from among official and political elites, for their personal gains.

Similarly, service delivery systems and infrastructure facilities can’t be improved without instilling professionalism in the civil bureaucracy, raising their efficiency levels and making them more focused and clear to serve the people with sincerity of purpose.