Admittedly, it is just less than two months since Nawaz Sharif and his men were handed over the powers (of course, somewhat restricted) of governance so the country cannot be taken to task for still harbouring hope though experience augurs otherwise.
Brought home to the third-time prime minister most clearly and emphatically since he began this round has to be the facts laid out in the amazing liturgy of sins of omission — or maybe commission — attributable to the spectacular failings of the Islamic Republic’s ubiquitous security and intelligence agencies, overseen by both military and civilians. The Abbottabad Commission report has shaken up many but in this strange land of multifarious contradictions other than outrage, excuses, possible faint mortification for the more sensitive, and the massive comment it has aroused in the national and concerned or interested international media, it will not cause any momentous or meaningful upheavals.
In due time, as with all things unpleasant or pleasant, it will be overtaken and put away in the hope that the embarrassment will just fade away. Naturally, as with all such reports, the individual blame game is not a factor. Usually, nasty events are attributed to a ‘higher authority’ — in this case, it seems that all relevant institutions are guilty, and no individual. But this was not the final full report with the various dissenting notes, so we are presumably left guessing.
The PML of Nawaz Sharif can, of course, claim distance from the 2011 happenings, but what are his intentions when it comes to doing something about what is acknowledged by all and sundry — the contentious military-civil imbalance? Desire may be there, but how does Mian Sahib intend to get to grips with it? He has indicated that he has it very much in mind, it has been much commented upon and we are told that it is in a process of change.
One small step, which is surely within his capabilities (and if it is not then he will never change the status quo) is to get rid of his military staff and send them back to the barracks, if he is serious about tackling in some way the age old problem which is amply laid out in the Abbottabad report.
Yes, again acknowledged by all is the fact that the military is the largest, richest, most well-armed, and most disciplined force of the land and it is in full control of a mighty nuclear arsenal, this last asset together with the rampant unchecked terrorism being the factor that gives rise to the labelling of Pakistan as “the world’s most dangerous country”. If Mr Sharif cannot, in any hurried manner, right the military versus parliamentary democratic wrong, a mammoth task as he well knows, his previous two existences as prime minister having been ended by army chiefs, let him at least apply his thinking process to the terrorism factor, where again we have had signals that intent is there.
All party conferences, as has been adequately pointed out some days ago by Editor M Ziauddin on these pages, are worse than futile. He needs quite a different approach and his relationship with the military will be all important. But let’s not hold our breath, both civil and army have a rather mixed and ambiguous approach to the militants on the rampage. And asking the terrorist lot ‘nicely,’ as was done in the case of Punjab, to be ‘nice’ and desist from activity in that province was and is not a solution. As goes the old maxim, deeds and actions speak louder than words — in the situation as it exists in this country, particularly so. Time is somewhat of the essence.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.
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