The collective responsibility


Courtesy:- MALIK MUHAMMAD ASHRAF

The time to deal with terrorists is now, politicking can wait

Despite the skepticism being expressed by the detractors of the government opposed to talks with TTP and the attempts by certain circles to put around stories of rift between the civilian and military leaders in regards to the strategy and the modalities about dealing with the militants, there are strong portents to suggest that all the stakeholders have a unanimity of views in resolving the conflict through dialogue and are supportive of the government’s strategy in this regard. Ever since the parleys with the TTP have recommenced, the prime minister has been regularly interacting with the COAS, ISI chief, heads of the law enforcing agencies and the party leaders to exchange views on the on-going developments and security related issues, with a view to firm up government’s response to TTP demands as well as to evaluate the preparedness of the government agencies to deal with any eventuality. From these developments it can be safely inferred that the military leaders have started accepting the ascendancy of the elected leadership and their prerogative to take a final decision on any issue of national importance; of course, after thorough consideration of the inputs given by the military leaders and the intelligence outfits. In regards to Musharraf’s trial, there are no indications to suggest that the military leaders were trying to pressurise the government to go soft on the former dictator. Rather they seem to go along with the government’s stance to let the law take its course. The indictment of the former dictator by the court and the refusal of the government to decline his request for removing his name from the ECL, amply testify and reinforce this impression. These irrefutable realities have also falsified the speculations to the contrary, bandied around in the media. Taking decisions on vital national issues through consensus and unfurling a culture of collective responsibility is the best example of ‘deliberative democracy’ which unfortunately has been a missing ingredient in the decision making process during the previous regimes. Pakistan is at the crossroads and instead of indulging in the blame game, as to who was responsible for the obtaining situation, it is time to introspect on the follies made in the past, learn from the history and show impregnable unity in warding off the dangers lurking on the horizon of the country. The state institutions must realize their constitutional roles and make sure that they do not transgress into the domain of other state organs and remain subservient to the elected leadership, as exhorted by the Quaid-i-Azam. The country can be winched out of the quicksand it is stuck into through following the course chartered by the founding father. Any deviation from it is a recipe for disaster. The choice is ours. The talks with TTP seem on course and both sides have repeatedly expressed their optimism about their success. The prime minister is on record to have stated that the talks were progressing in a satisfactory way and the nation would soon hear a good news. The Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, briefing the media after meeting the government and Taliban negotiating teams on Saturday, revealed that the government has released 13 more non-combatant TTP prisoners and another batch of 30 prisoners might be released during the second phase of talks likely to be held within two to three days. He said that the government expected the TTP to reciprocate this gesture by releasing non-combatant abductees including Professor Ajmal Khan, sons of Yusuf Raza Gilani and Salmaan Taseer, government employees and foreigners. He said these gestures were made to create an ambience of trust and confidence-building which was essential to initiate discussion on the core and substantive issues. He rightly pointed out that the parleys with the TTP would proceed in conformity with the national interests and with the constitutional parameters. The government is traversing the right course and now the TTP needs to show its sincerity by releasing the detainees pointed out by the government. An unchallengeable conclusion drawn is that the use of military muscle prolongs the strife rather than resolving it immediately. Dialogue is the first and preferable option. What needs to be understood by these elements is that dialogue is not the only and the ultimate option available to the government. The National Internal Security Policy drawn up by the government encompasses a comprehensive strategy to remove the causes of terrorism, development of infrastructure, challenging the dogma on the intellectual and religious level, strengthening the security network, creation of a rapid response force to deal with acts of terrorism and also enhancing and strengthening the capabilities of the security forces to establish the writ of the state in case the parleys fail to produce the desired results. The government’s efforts, therefore, need to be supported by the media, intelligentsia, civil society and all the stakeholders in the future of the country. It is a national cause and not the agenda of a particular party. Politicking can wait for better times.

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