The Supreme Court has clearly touched a raw nerve with the interior ministry when it took the government to task for its failure to implement the National Action Plan (NAP). It will be recalled that the NAP was hurriedly formulated in the days following the massacre at the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16 last year. The 20 points of the NAP were a bold, almost visionary, set of bullet points that defined many of the ills of the state and prescribed a remedy. As doctors will be aware, prescribing the correct treatment to a patient is a million miles from the patient actually following the doctor’s orders, and so it has proved with the NAP.
The apex Court on July 3 was scathing in its observations, saying that the NAP was “a plan of inaction”. Indeed, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja went so far as to say that “not a single bit” of work was done on the plan even though six months had passed since the tragedy that was its genesis. Furthermore, he said that the government had “deceived the masses” with the NAP — and these are strong words from an unexpected quarter.
Stung into making an uncharacteristic reply, the ministry “expressed its displeasure” and said it was “unfair” to say that nothing had been done in respect of the NAP. This is an interesting choice of words. The ministry has not refuted the claim of the apex Court outright, instead recognising that it was not on the safest ground and choosing an equivocal response that suggests an acceptance that at least in part if not the whole, the apex Court was speaking truth unto power.
Adopting a posture not unlike that of the Dickens character Uriah Heap, the ministry appears to be ‘ever so ‘umble’ and pleads that no single department or ministry is responsible for the implementation of the NAP, and promises to submit a detailed report before the next apex Court hearing. We await with bated breath.
In its defence, the ministry offered a basket of statistics, most of which were completely meaningless. The 8,111 proscribed organisations that have been put on ‘the fourth schedule’ continue to go about their business seemingly blithely unaware of their proscribed status. There does not appear to have been a single conviction of any of the 2,500 arrested during Operation Zarb-e-Azb, despite 1,026 of them having had cases filed against them. Rs2 billion have been “scrutinised” as suspicious transactions by the Federal Investigation Agency and the State Bank of Pakistan. We are delighted. We would be considerably more so if we were presented with the evidence that those Rs2 billion had been confiscated and that billions more were to follow. We expect no early action.
It is undoubtedly true that the law and order situation in Karachi has improved, that targeted killings have dropped and murders overall decreased by 37 per cent. We applaud this, but wonder at the same time just where the 55,962 criminals and 688 terrorists who have been “rounded up” are currently warehoused as the prison system was over-capacity long before the current operations got under way. Have they all been given bail and released only to await rounding up again? A detailed answer would be helpful, but once again unlikely to be forthcoming.
The fact of the matter is that with the utter failure to adequately fund or even acknowledge its existence as an essential component in the fight against terrorism, the National Counter Terrorism Authority, remains inoperative. In addition, moves to register madrassas remain bogged down at the provincial level where there is either a lack of political support or the sacerdotal classes are simply too powerful to move against. Pakistan was caught napping by the NAP, and continues to doze its way towards an ever more extreme national paradigm. The apex Court has pointed a finger at the wake-up call that never was, and the interior ministry is clean out of fig leaves.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.
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