More a coma than a NAP

Published: September 12, 2017

There is an emerging consensus that the National Action Plan (NAP) formulated in the aftermath of the Army Public School attack in 2014 — is dead and awaits burial. Ultimately it died of starvation and neglect, overtaken by events internal and external, and was never in reality being applied any more than half-heartedly within weeks of its birth. This was the grand plan to defeat terrorism, its 20 points to be the guiding lights that would rid the country of a significant blight. Some of the points were for the federal government to work on, some the provincial governments — and some were just never going to be worked on no matter what.

Any progress towards implementation was brought to a halt with the Panama Papers affair, and with the verdict of the Supreme Court that unseated Nawaz Sharif and the installation of what amounts to an interim government, cold storage beckoned. Government priorities have changed, the opposition parties have shifted stance and the Trump administration in the USA with its aggressive anti-Pakistan rhetoric have all played a part, another nail in the coffin being the recent BRICS summit.

Overtaken it may have been but there have been elements of NAP that whilst never coming to maturity at least became the germ of better practice, slightly better coordination and an elevated awareness of the complexity of the terrorist threat in a holistic sense. In the wider picture terrorism has evolved as well and geo-economics is on fast forwards. The entire region is in varying degrees of flux, and taken together it is no surprise to find NAP inert. With an election less than a year away and vote-winning mega projects stalled and unlikely to be completed in time for polling day, there is no time for a complex set of interlocking objectives such as NAP. There is much unfinished business that is going to act as a storage battery for trouble in the future, and Pakistan may yet come to regret the demise of what at least on paper was one of the better ideas to come out of governance for decades.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2017.

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