Yes, you have to answer them sir!
It does warrant some better explanation on part of both the civilian and military leadership why a city, with a heavy military presence that has been there for years, got attacked twice in two days and nobody is the wiser
This week started off with an all too familiar incident of savage terrorism. A meticulously thought out attack targetting Baluchistan’s lawyers resulted in 72 dead with 100 injured. The attack began with the shooting of a prominent lawyer in Quetta. The second part of the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who had anticipated and was waiting for colleagues of the deceased lawyer to gather at Civil Hospital’s emergency entrance. He blew himself up resulting in one of the deadliest attacks in Quetta’s history.
The same playbook came into effect in the methodical way it does when such incidents take place. COAS General Sharif was first to reach the site to condemn the brutal attack and express solidarity with the people of Quetta. This of course made it mandatory for Prime Minister Sharif to get to the hospital ASAP and do the same. Our Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was nowhere to be found or seen.
During the day there was an informal huddle between the military and civilian top brass that was present in Quetta at the time. A special ‘combing operation’ in Baluchistan and a call to improve coordination between the government and law enforcement agencies (LEA’s) was the outcome.
Why was Baluchistan exempt from ‘combing operations’ already taking place in other provinces and why is there a lack of coordination between the government and LEA’s given that we are admittedly in a state of war?
Meanwhile the National Assembly was in session where there were questions about security that needed to be answered. The only issue was that the security czar was still nowhere to be found or seen. The next day a roadside bomb went off in Quetta targeting a judge’s car and his police escort. Thankfully there was no loss of life but 14 people were injured.
In the days that followed, a series of highly overdue meetings took place. The major outcome from the meeting was that the NAP (National Action Plan) would be reinvigorated as most of the twenty points remained unimplemented. NACTA got a 100 million rupees funding as a result of the meeting, which is just a fraction of the amount it has demanded to become functional and effective.
The PM made a rare appearance in the National Assembly on Wednesday, a day after the second attack to brief the House. He explained that the enemy wants to sabotage our way of life and the freedoms that we enjoy, but we won’t let them as our intelligence agencies are operating day and night to avoid just that.
The points mentioned in NAP are not optional. All the 20 points require the same amount of attention. This war is also not just about ‘breaking the enemies back’ by carrying out intelligence based operations. There has to be a counter narrative present that is simultaneously implemented along with these operations
It does warrant some better explanation on part of both the civilian and military leadership why a city, with a heavy military presence that has been there for years, got attacked twice in two days and nobody is the wiser.
That explanation however is limited to how RAW and NDS (Indian and Afghani equivalents of our ISI) are sabotaging CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor). Let’s assume for a moment that they are responsible, that it is an attempt to derail CPEC, does that absolve our security and intelligence apparatus of responsibility to protect us from their ‘attacks and ploys’? It is just a convenient way to shift blame and focus from the public eye.
Chaudhry Nisar took a different take on the whole incident when he finally spoke in parliament. Rather than giving specifics about the incident in Quetta and the intelligence failure that led to the coordinated attack, he attacked political leaders for questioning the competence of security and intelligence agencies and suggested they instead speak out against RAW and NDS. And of course no Chaudhry Nisar speech and press conference is complete without comparing the previous government’s performance in terms of security with his.
The opposition was right in asking why the security situation was still not under control when they had unanimously supported the government when it came to setting up NACTA, formulating NAP and setting up military courts. The opposition decided to walk out of the National Assembly as a protest to Nisar’s narcissistic comments only to be wooed by the PM to return.
Khursheed Shah asking for the formation of a parliamentary review committee with representation of all stakeholders to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of NAP is not a bad idea considering the fact the NAP remains mostly unimplemented almost two years on since its inception.
His request to summon heads of all security and intelligence agencies to parliament to provide a briefing on the security situation of the county is also not unheard of. General Kiyani briefed parliament on the Swat Operation back in 2009.
The opposition is well within its rights; in fact it is its duty to question the effectiveness of the government with issues as serious as the security of its citizens. To shun those concerns by labeling the people asking questions as ‘agents of our enemies’ is merely deflecting blame.
It is truly unfortunate that terrorist incidents resulting in hundreds of casualties has become a periodical requirement to take otherwise important and necessary steps, steps that should be taken much more frequently. Quetta is the latest example, Lahore before it, APS before that and countless others.
The government’s misplaced priorities also create a vacuum that makes such attacks inevitable. With reelection constantly on the governments mind, the focus naturally shifts to high visibility projects rather than actual “seamless security coordination between government and agencies”. What seamlessness does our PM refer to when the federal interior minister is ‘unavailable/unreachable’ after a security lapse takes place and is arrogantly unwilling to accept any responsibility for it?
The points mentioned in NAP are not optional. All the 20 points require the same amount of attention. This war is also not just about ‘breaking the enemies back’ by carrying out intelligence based operations. There has to be a counter narrative present that is simultaneously implemented along with these operations.
Qualitative results will only come about once the distorted version of Islam that is still spewed via certain TV channels, mosques and public gatherings is restricted, not encouraged. The actual vision and principles that this country was created upon also need to be highlighted: Pakistan was meant to be a secular country where people of all races and religions are first and foremost the citizens of Pakistan and hence share equal rights. Therefore they are afforded the right to freely practice their religion safely within the ambit of law and order.
“You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.” – Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (11th August 1947, presidential address to constituent assembly).