Attacks on the state

Published: June 30, 2013
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A file photo of Pakistani soldiers. PHOTO: fILE

A file photo of Pakistani soldiers. PHOTO: fILE

In the last few days, Pakistan and its newly elected government have been rocked by a wave of terrorist attacks leaving dozens dead and injured. More importantly, the state incapacity to arrest and tackle the terror networks has been once again badly exposed.

The Pakistani state’s ability to counter terrorism has been on the decline. In particular, the role of intelligence agencies tasked with the responsibility of timely information and advice to executive authrorities has come under public scrutiny because of their persistent inability to pre-empt terrorist attacks.

In most cases, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) have accepted responsibility for these attacks. Baloch separatists, who, as the state holds, are aided by foreign elements, carried out the attack on the Quaid’s residency in Ziarat. In Quetta, women students were attacked and killed and then the nation witnessed most brutal attacks on a hospital and its staff. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the TTP bombed a funeral and carried out attacks against the security personnel almost with an impunity that makes the Pakistani state appear as clueless. The most ghastly incident took place at the scenic Nanga Parbat where foreign tourists were attacked and killed, alarming the entire world about the security crisis in Pakistan. Most recently, a senior judge of the Sindh High Court was attacked and nine people were killed. Karachi has become a hub of terror networks, which endangers the economic future of Pakistan.

Three trends are clear from these acts of violence: the TTP, its allies and al Qaeda have accelerated their attack on the Pakistani state and society even when political parties that won the recent election have been stating that they are ready to talk to them. Second, the operations of the LeJ — largely based in Punjab — continue unabated, thereby giving much impetus to the TTP’s agenda. Finally, the civilian governments lack coordination and are yet to assume the real charge of security as stipulated by the Pakistani Constitution.

The interior minister has made some strong statements hinting at the plans to devise a new security policy. However, no security policy can be effective or in civilian control until the armed forces are on board and are willing to accept civilian input. Furthermore, our domestic security is linked to the foreign policy goals in Afghanistan and India, which historically have required the Pakistani state to overly rely on proxies in the shape of private militias. This is where the rot has originated for it has broken the state’s monopoly over the legitimate use of violence. The situation is further exacerbated by the existence of areas such as parts of Fata and Balochistan and elsewhere where the state institutions are weak or absent altogether.

The new federal and provincial governments, therefore, need to work on a multi-pronged strategy. It is time that they ended their election rhetoric of winning terrorists through peace talks and identified the grave threat to Pakistan. They need to build public campaigns among their constituents and through state institutions for a medium- to long-term fight against terrorism and extremism, which breeds the former.

The federal government needs to involve parliamentary committees in the process of building a consensus on the contours of a new security policy, which resolves to tackle the militias through various means which could include plans to reintegrate the militants.

Pakistan’s ambitions for the post-Nato Afghanistan need to be revisited and talks with India must be held at once to end the proxy battle that lies ahead for winning influence in the war-ravaged country.

In Karachi and other areas, where state institutions need capacity, resources must be diverted for civilian law enforcement without further delay. Civil-military imbalance will not go away soon so pragmatism demands that the new government finds a way of working with the military within the legal ambit instead of moving towards institutional conflict that may sabotage the prospect of a much-needed consensus.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2013.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Randomstranger
    Jun 30, 2013 - 11:28PM

    Although our intelligence agencies have failed in most of their duty, criticism of army alone isn’t enough when the federal and KPK government doesn’t even own the war. Federal government lacks any form of courage, that one would expect from a leader, and PTI keeps on justifying terrorist attacks citing unrelated things. For PTI, the victims of TTP are not worth anything as the killers weren’t drones and Americans.

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  • Polpot
    Jul 1, 2013 - 5:53AM

    Pakistans response to unprecedented Violence
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Write an article summarising all the recent violence
    Make Namby Pamby suggestions about policies and jobs and so on.
    Thats like re arranging the chairs on the Titanic.
    Required: Civilian led Martial Law and Total Military Action.
    Democracy that leads to massive violent death of Civilians is meaningless.

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  • Polpot
    Jul 1, 2013 - 5:57AM

    Why does Nawaz Sharif not shift to Karachi and stay their and bring the violence under Control?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    More important for the country than making speeches with the British PM.
    He must demonstrate detrmination and resolve to tackle the situation. Otherwise he eill soon be in the dungheap of history.

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  • Polpot
    Jul 1, 2013 - 5:59AM

    “Pakistan’s ambitions for the post-Nato Afghanistan need to be revisited and talks with India must be held at once to end the proxy battle that lies ahead for winning influence in the war-ravaged country.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    the war ravaged country? you mean Pakistan or Afghanistan ?

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  • AliKuliKhan
    Jul 1, 2013 - 10:30AM

    Let us first sort out Musharraf, we got 5 years to sort out terrorism. (pun intended)

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  • A
    Jul 1, 2013 - 12:03PM

    Is there a state. I for one living in Pak cant find one. We are living in a CONTROLLED CHAOS mode.

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  • Khalid
    Jul 1, 2013 - 2:16PM

    TTP wants to negotiate from a position of strength.

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  • Toba Alu
    Jul 1, 2013 - 4:26PM

    Developing a new security policy is only trying to mitigate the awful consequences of wrong mindsets. It is about time that the causes are seriously looked into and dealt with. These are well-known but conveniently ignored out of fear, out of the same wrong mindsets. But the obvious cannot be talked about as these minds only gradually differ.

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  • unbelievable
    Jul 1, 2013 - 8:34PM

    Pakistan has yet to close down the radical madrassas which are the prime recruiting tool of terrorism – akin to the blasphemy law the civilian govt lacks the stones to take on religious extremism. Pakistan spends most of it’s financial resources on it’s million man military which for the most part sits on the sidelines and doesn’t take the blame for the out of control terrorism in Pakistan – time for the Editor to quit sugar coating the problem and place blame where it belongs.

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  • Ganesh Ji
    Jul 1, 2013 - 8:41PM

    ET is spot on in the analyses that “domestic security is linked to the foreign policy goals in Afghanistan and India, which historically have required the Pakistani state to overly rely on proxies in the shape of private militias.” Pakistan’s travails are indeed the inevitable blowback of the supposedly low cost policy of cultivating jihadis to intimidate India. Inevitable because it was only a matter of time before the jihadis realized that running the risk dying while seeking to impose their mores on India was not as productive as doing so in the more receptive Pakistan .

    The analyses however seems to have fallen on deaf years within the Pakistani State going by the fact that terrorists involved in attacking India such as Hafiz Saeed are roaming around unmolested even as his organization is funded by the provincial government of Punjab.

    The above leads me to conclude that ET will be writing many editorials such as this in the future as well!

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