Days after country’s civil and military leadership evolved a national action plan to fight terrorism, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stalwart Senator Raza Rabbani on Monday pointed out that the 20-point plan was a replica of the National Internal Security Policy presented seven months back but never implemented.
“What is the guarantee that the newly evolved national action plan will be implemented?” questioned Raza Rabbani while addressing the Senate.
He pointed out that the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) was supposed to be the key body in the National Internal Security Policy (NISP) announced in February this year, but it lies ineffective. “The National Internal Security Policy has failed miserably to take off,” he added.
Rabbani suggested some soul searching for contributing factors responsible for extremism. He spoke of a range of factors including (a) the use of religion by the state to further its own political agenda, (b) the religious political groups also using religion to rival the government and come to power (c), the state deliberately contributing to the rise of armed extremists, (d) the joining of Afghan war under Ziaul Haq, (e) the provision of safe havens to the militants by the state, (f) permission of entry to all kinds of mercenaries, including Arabs, Chechens and Uzbek, in the country, (g) the failure of the state to repatriate them, (h) the creation of good and bad Taliban by the state and (i) the allowance of such elements to penetrate civil and military services and political apparatus, particularly in Zia’s period.
After pointing out the root causes, he asked the government whether it is willing to clamp down on all terrorism apologists within the political, civil or military apparatus.
Hitting out at a greater role of the army in the country with the establishment of military courts, Rabbani said we have not learnt lessons from the past, referring to similar decisions taken in 1977 and 1998 resulting in the ouster of democratic regimes by martial law.
“We are going to repeat past mistakes. Today they are indicating civil courts have failed to deliver; tomorrow they might say political dispensation has also failed. They might say thank you very much, [now] pack your (politician’s) bags.”
He said the members of the upper house should tender their resignations.
“Article 245 has been invoked and provinces have been asked by interior minister to request army and now military courts are being set,” he lamented.
Talking about the constitutional amendment for the purpose of military courts, Rabbani said that “any amendment will hit at the basic structure of the Constitution.”
In reply, leader of the opposition Aitzaz Ahsan assured that “no constitutional right will be usurped,” though the guarantee should have come from the government.
Earlier, Senator Kalsoom Parveen from Balochistan National Party – Awami (BNP-A) said: “We have reservations and it should be clarified whether they will be used against politicians or terrorists.” She also asked the authorities to give a clear definition of who exactly is a terrorist. Kazim Khan from the PPP said, “Whenever the PML-N has come to power, military courts have been set up. I would ask Nawaz Sharif not to go back to those [army] he had already left.”
Meanwhile, Nisar Muhammad from the ruling PML-N delivered an emotional speech asking all political forces to join hands, saying “we are all responsible for what happened in Peshawar.”
He said that “we have so far failed to identify our direction [in war against terrorism].”
Muhammad proposed that December 16 should be commemorated as a ‘day of mourning’ every year and the principal of Army Public School Peshawar be awarded a civil award for bravery.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2014.