Generally speaking, consensus is, of course, a good thing, all the more so in a country as fractured as ours. But consensus can also strangulate the power to make decisions and hold back the kind of tough action governments sometimes need to take for the sake of their country and its people. Speaking at a seminar organised by the South Asian Free Media Association in Islamabad, President Asif Ali Zardari has stated clearly that the environment is not right for building such an agreement and till it can be established, the dangers of repercussions from a military operation in the north are too grave to risk.
To some degree we can, perhaps, understand presidential thinking. But we must also look at the matter from a different angle. Is it really wise to put off a military operation in North Waziristan because the government believes public opinion will not be behind it? The cost of further delay would come in the form of growing militancy, more terrorist attacks and further torment for the people of North Waziristan, who live in the clutch of militants and are used as pawns in their games.
There are moments in history when leaders need to be strong; today, we stand at one of those junctions. The government needs to keep in mind that the public opinion it refers to is not fixed in stone. It is malleable and can be moulded, shaped and altered through some skilful manipulation. People in the country know too little about life under militants; they know too little about the fate of those maimed and orphaned by terrorist attacks and there seems to have been no publicity at all of the fact that over 400 such attacks took place before the first drone strike in 2004. More of this reality needs to be put before the people and decisions taken that suit their interests and that of the country. This, after all, is the principal duty of the government and in many ways, exceeds that of building political consensus.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2012.
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If you read my post, you would relize that I was referring to Republic not Democracy. UK is definitely not a republic. About the rest I did not know, so preferred to maintain silence
Madam, it is hard for me to believe that you don't know about France, Germany, etc. my 9 year old comes up with better excuses than that. Perhaps you should put down Atlas Shrugged and read something else to learn a bit more about the world other than the one that exists in Ayn Rand's twisted imagination!
Sinclair likes you-- he even knows you are woman.
"Do we really think that President Zardari has the authority to order Army to start operations in North Waziristan?"
@Banday: I do not. The Pakistani military are NOT sworn to obey elected leaders. Zardari and other politicians are valued only for their ability as subordinates to supply political cover (not going into N. Waz today) or pull the military out of a jam (as happened when 90,000 soldiers were captured in 1971.)
@Sultan: "France, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and on and on and on are also democracies you forgot mention–why just India and the US?"
If you read my post, you would relize that I was referring to Republic not Democracy. UK is definitely not a republic. About the rest I did not know, so preferred to maintain silence. In any case my land of birth and land of residence are most relevant for me.
As for the rest of your personal attack - not going to respond. You don't like me and that is Okay.
France, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and on and on and on are also democracies you forgot mention--why just India and the US?
I don't know if you understand Urdu but if you do, here is one for you: Khusyani billi, khumba nochay. Everytime I decontaminate your odorous intellectual placebo with something meaningful, you start making pathetic and completely irrelevant references to constitution or democracy or India (yes, of course, Mother India!). In Joe Biden's language, you are a true "Malarkite." So, is the killing of innocent people in FATA meeting the legitimate expectation of the, heaven forbid, vetoing minority?
If Consensus = Veto of minority then do you think that Democracy = Rule of majority? "
It is not a question of what I think. It is how democracy is defined. OFcourse a Republic with democratically elected representatives (which India and US are) is one where the Constitution is supreme and if the Constitution was well designed to take care of fairness towards minority and the Constitution cannot be changed with a simple majority, legitimate expectations of minorities would be met.
If Consensus = Veto of minority then do you think that Democracy = Rule of majority?
Hopefully Imran will deliver in Pakistan what Erdogan delivered in Turkey--army in the barracks, political settlement with the Kurdish terrorists, and a massive economic uplift through investment and good governance. He must be given a chance.
Do we really think that President Zardari has the authority to order Army to start operations in North Waziristan? PPP & ANP have remained the worst sufferers in Pakistan of Taliban terrorism. They are bound to be anti-Taliban owing to their leanings. However, things on this security area is not completely under their control. They have to take the flak from the public for double dealings of military establishment. We have to understand that religious right has a tight grip on the machinations of security policy initiatives. They can allow military to take some cosmetic initiatives to suppress some out of control fanatics in frontier regions, but they will never permit complete dismantling of terror infrastructure in Pakistan. After all they are gaining politically & economically from this structure.
Road ahead is long & there are no short cuts. Stick around democracy, I hope confident politicians will emerge from this process, who can hit the terror structure hard along with their sympathizers. We have to wait till then...
Consensus = Veto of minority