WEB DESK: Of late, an eerie sense is permeating through national landscape that the ground retrieved from the terror infrastructure is being lost to it once again. There is the growing incidence of terror-related crime; the religious fanatics have upped their ante of violence; the security personnel are under attack; and the displaced tribals are finding it increasingly hard to restart their lives. Following the legislation of National Action Plan (NAP) some considerable progress was achieved in all these areas. But over the last some time its implementation has lost the pace, giving terrorists, extremists and anti-state elements space and time to resurface and resume their work.
Expectedly so critical a setback to the national security should have provoked a matching response of governments in provinces and federal capital; but it hasn’t, obliging a calling attention notice on the part of military top brass. The Corps Commanders, who reviewed the country’s internal security situation in their meeting at GHQ, Rawalpindi, on Tuesday, have concluded that the implementation of the National Action Plan has fallen far short of its objectives; the investigations by the JITs against terrorists remain sluggish and proper rehabilitation of the displaced people is still awaited.
That being the disturbing ground reality, CoAS General Raheel Sharif, who chaired the meeting, has called for “matching/complementary initiatives on the part of the government to secure long-term gains of operations and enduring peace in the country”. Between the lines he has warned the civilian counterparts against their dysfunctional mode in terms of implementing the 20-point National Action Plan.
In particular, of immense frustration to the military top brass is the nearly non-existent follow-up action by civilian authorities in cases of suspected criminals identified and arrested by the Rangers in Karachi. Of the hundreds of apprehended, to utter irritation of the Rangers high command, only a very few have been charged, and much less convicted. A slow movement of civilian authorities on the need to cut down fertility rate of foreign-funded extremism and streamlining functioning of seminaries (in Islamabad, southern Punjab and Karachi) is also of serious concern to the military high command.
Crime flourishes where criminals don’t get punished, for whatever reasons. Given the perfunctory, if not intended, investigations and weak prosecutions most of the accused terrorists, even the foot soldiers of RAW and proxies of our so-called foreign friends, are likely to go scot-free and resume their work. Were this failure merely one-off and marginal the Army chief would not have made public his concerns as he did so loudly and unambiguously.
A complacent approach to a formidable challenge is a huge setback to the efforts towards restoring normalcy in the country. But it was coming given that having signed up the National Action Plan in totality its fuller implementation has become problematic for the civilian rulers. Not only they are too single-mindedly preoccupied by the unending game of power politics to think of anything of anything else, in quite a few cases they find themselves standing on the side of the terrorists and extremists who are now accused but formerly their allies.
They are not expected to proceed against their former allies; hence the sluggish, non-productive investigations and prosecutions. Then there is this resistance by religious political parties to any kind of scrutiny of the seminaries, most of which are owned and run by their families and friends. How many of these seminaries get foreign funds, in the name of donations by foreign governments and motivated individuals there is no exact figure. But what we know is that some of them do get foreign funds, and in some cases through suspected channels.
If the government is working to choke these illegal channels there is not much in evidence, otherwise it makes no sense that the Army Chief had to take it up with Saudi authorities in his recent visit.
But for fuller implementation of the National Action Plan, in letter and in spirit, the gains the military forces have made in the tribal areas and on the streets of Karachi, have to be protected and preserved. And this requires civilian set-ups’ full co-operation, now asked for by the military’s top brass. At the same time, a co-operative attitude of foreign powers, particularly of the United States with whom Pakistan shares a longing for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan and an anxiety that its lopsided approach to South Asia tends to undermine the regional security, remains pertinent. This longing the army chief expected to take up with his hosts in Washington during his upcoming five-day visit.