The Frontier Post(EDITORIAL)
For how long are the nation’s elites to keep living with silly charades and craps? For how many times has the president to keep harping that militants are using the cover of Islam to capture the government of Pakistan? Does he have a strategy or an action plan to frustrate their design or does he think that just by mumbling this mantra again and again he can defeat them? Now for more than a year his PPP is in rule; and as yet it is all prattle and vows, still having nothing concrete on its plate that could pass for even a semblance of strategy to combat terrorism or militancy. Only the other day, his anointed national security czar Rehman Malik was telling the senators that a national anti-terrorism policy was in the process of formulation. What is this? Why this leisureliness? For heaven’s sake, has nobody in Islamabad an idea of what a vicious monstrosity they are up against? Or, have they given to the thought of parcelling out the country to thuggish warlords to set up their fiefdoms, leaving their Islamabad throne alone for them to pose that it is they who hold the Pakistan government, not the militants? There indeed is a strange kind of pusillanimity, indeed stark craftiness, to these elites’ entire act that simply boggles the mind. Can anyone beat in jiggery-pokery ANP boss Asfandyar Wali Khan who felt no qualms in venting the braggadocio unashamedly that he would let no one disturb peace in Karachi? Has this gladiator wrested out his bastion of the Frontier province from militant brigades’ and criminal gangs’ clutches and made it all such a peaceful place that he felt not the slightest shame in flaunting this tall talk? Leave aside Swat, Buner or Dir, which he has surrendered to Sufi Muhammad’s Sultanate of Malakand and his commander-in-chief Fazlullah. Even the provincial metropolis of Peshawar is no more a peaceful place to live in. The people are fleeing out in droves, even selling their homes and properties at throwaway prices, to settle down in Islamabad and other safer places. But Asfandyar wouldn’t know this. He no more lives there; nor does he visit it. For militant thugs’ fear, he lives mostly outside the country, of which he has become a non-resident national virtually. It indeed is the time that the country’s elites become real, abandon their conceited talk, give up their pet charades and face up to hard realities. Their refrain of dialogue and political initiatives to give a stab to extremism is all right. But for their efficacy, right conditions have to be there. And those conditions can come about only if the state’s civil and military powers combine up to break the militants’ muscle power and wrench away from them their intimidation clout. The state should be in a position to lay down terms, not just be acquiescing, surrendering or retreating. A difficult task it is, no doubt; but that is how a creative and lasting reconciliation can come about. Otherwise, it could only be an agreement between the victor, the militants in this case, and the vanquished, the state in this case, as indeed it has been in Swat and as it was in North and South Waziristan. Way back in 1990s, Chandrika Kumaratunga, outgoing Sri Lankan president, had offered Tamil Tigers a devolution plan, which though short of outright independence was more than autonomy. But they rejected it out of hand. They were then in a triumphal mood. With massive financial and military support coming to them from Tamil diaspora and Indian Tamils and Indian RAW spy agency, they were militarily on ascendancy in the face of a badly bruised Sri Lankan military. They rebuffed her peace pleas disdainfully. But once she hit them hard with a renewed military campaign, they agreed a long ceasefire and also to talks, which couldn’t come to a mutually-acceptable denouement, though no lesser for her own reservations, but primarily for Tamil Tigers’ use of the interregnum only to rebuild their damaged military prowess. They now stand cornered in a narrow patch of their erstwhile northern bastion in a war they have almost lost; and if the island state’s government and its Sinhalese majority wisely let the civil power work humanely to suck the Tamil minority in the mainstream respectably, Sri Lanka may see peace that has eluded it for three decades. But when will our own elites wake up to combine up the state’s civil and military powers to face up to horrid realities on our national landscape, getting increasingly complex and intractable visibly?