NOTES FROM THE LOG
Yes, this is about three issues in the past week, starting with what I think is the most important: the gratuitous killing, for many years, of Hazara Shias in and around Quetta in particular and efforts by the extremist Deobandi groups to apostatise and kill Shias in general. (The TTP letter to the ulema clearly puts Shias in the apostate category.
The symbolism of the Hazara protest on Alamdaar Road in Quetta Feisal Naqvi has already penned. He cannot be outperformed so I will stick to the banal and the prescriptive.
The Raisani government has been sacked — finally. The man was not only remarkably incompetent, he was also heartless. His sacking, as did his government’s departure, has come four years too late. But now that he has better reason to live in his G-6/3 house in Islamabad, the question is: what next?
The federal government has put Balochistan under Governor’s Rule, given the Frontier Corps police powers to apprehend and investigate the accused and made the Corps Commander, Southern Command, the head of operations.
Raisani’s sacking is a necessary but not sufficient condition for addressing the problem of sectarian terrorism, as also other problems in the province.
Has the government done the sufficient? No. Neither the FC nor the army is geared to conduct the kind of operations required to deal with the problem. Also, the army cannot be pulled in to do something it is not trained to do at a time when it has other problems on its hands.
I have said this before, repeatedly, and I will say it again. Terrorism requires, for effective CT operations, a very high degree of intelligence expertise and a force, whether part of the police or a separate one, which is equipped and trained exclusively to deal with acts of terrorism. This does not mean that other elements of the security apparatus will remain inert but that they will be supporting elements of this force.
Terrorism has been the single deadliest threat to Pakistan for the past decade. Dealing with it requires a national, proactive strategy that must be overseen and implemented by an umbrella organisation. There’s no strategy that I know of — unless it’s the best-kept secret — and the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) remains stillborn. The government’s interest in this matter is, of course, evident from the time it took Islamabad to acknowledge the Hazara killings and do the necessary. As for the sufficient, I am unhappy to report that neither the government nor the security apparatus is prepared to counter the terrorism threat.
Who does the government call upon to train the police; who does it call upon to run day to day administrative affairs in a conflict zone? The army. Problem: the army doesn’t know anything about eithertraining a modern, effective police force or running the administration beyond exhibiting better managerial skills.
Counterterrorism is not just about getting the police to practice shooting weapons, conducting raids and mounting snap operations. That’s just one part of the game. This is what the army trains the policemen in. More important is gathering intelligence, collating and analysing that data and then creating a picture. This part of the game requires a very high-level of investigative and analytical skills that the army doesn’t possess. It also requires equipment that, for the most part, we don’t have. There is a very small cadre of police officers who have learnt on the job. But our capacity, currently, is woefully inadequate on all counts. I know of no effort to address this dismal situation.
Corollary: do not be surprised if the necessary doesn’t translate into the sufficient.
Now, to the situation at the Line of Control. Pakistan and India are at war — on Indian television screens. In fact, one important CBM between Pakistan and India would be to send a major part of the Indian electronic media — honourable exceptions aside — on long, paid leave. The problem with these jumping-jack warmongers is that I suspect not many have ever fired a bullet in anger or held a weapon, unless for an awkward pose before the cameras.
Put things in a perspective, fellas. Remember the facts that have come out in your own press by those who are discerning. India provoked. Pakistan retaliated. India, through its construction of bunkers and observation posts, is in violation of the LoC agreement. As for beheading and slitting throats and the moral outrage, who are you kidding? Ask your special forces about the best way of silently disposing of a sentry or a patrolman. You will find the answer to be throat-slitting. As for beheading, I personally find the practice unacceptable but before you raise the moral standard, ask your army units to return the trophy scalps of Pakistani soldiers. Oh, and don’t forget the trussed up bodies of Kashmiris, picked up, tortured and brutally killed. Remember Jaleel Andrabi and Major Avtar Singh?
Help build peace, not make war.
Since drumming sense into these TRP-captured warriors is unlikely, I suggest that they be put in a solid bunker fired upon by weapons held by an infantry company which merely consist of assault rifles, LMG/MGs, RR and an odd mortar round. The experience should have a salutary impact on their war morale, thank you! [NB: artillery/armour fire or aerial bombardment will be excessive for these brave souls.]
Finally, as I write these lines, Dr Tahirul Qadri is fulminating at Islamabad’s D-Chowk. The PPP and the PML-N say Qadri’s march has failed. Qadri says it has succeeded. The truth lies between these two extremes. Some of Qadri’s demands are right. The system needs reforms (as I said in a previous article). Others are excessive. In any case, he has made an impact. If he hadn’t started his campaign, he would have returned to politics with a whimper. His success: he has created a momentum. Now he needs to exploit it in the elections.
By the way, the politicians who are arguing that this is not democratic are bullshitting. Non-violent gatherings are perfectly democratic. In fact, they are called for when a ‘democratic’ government begins to ignore reforms, takes zero interest in public policy and continues to middle-finger those asking that it better begin governing.
Stop Press: The Supreme Court has ordered that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf be arrested in the rental power case. This puts a different hue on Pakistani politics, Qadri’s movement and MQM’s support to that movement. If this is part of a broader plan to not just get rid of the PPP but also delay the elections, the country will plunge into another crisis.
This article was originally published at: The Express Tribune
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.