This letter is of a concerned Pakistani, who is seeing the State and its constitutional structures rendered helpless at the hands of terrorism. It has brought into question the writ of the State. It has brought into question the ability of the civilian government to protect the State and its citizens. It has brought into question the credibility and operational capacity of our State organizations responsible for national security.
It has generated a feeling of helplessness and despair in the people on the overall situation, but in particular in the State and its Institutions. Will we all allow the rot to continue or shall we standup as a nation united. I believe, which is substantiated by history that the people of the Third World, particularly Pakistan, are not resigned to this fate. We shall fight and we shall surmount.
The agents of terror are operating under a philosophy and thesis, this requires a counter narrative, as military action alone will not surfice. Their philosophy needs to be countered on a national level, the counter narrative has to have roots in Pakistani culture, literature, folk lore and civil society. We as a nation need to shun self pity and a victim mindset. The nation must rise to protect its sovereignty, values and culture.
In today’s Pakistan we have reacted through verbal rhetoric, limited display of street power and Parliamentary Resolutions but to no avail. They all are actions in isolation, lacking ownership of the citizens of Pakistan – it requires a Pakistani narrative in which the people feel they are fighting to protect their values, security and sovereignty.
This requires an integrated national response which is based on national strategic interests, devoid of a state of denial. The nation as a whole and the Institutions of the State in particular must have the moral courage to admit their short falls and the political and military establishments must take the people into confidence. The salvation of the nation shall emerge as a consequence of this.
We the ordinary citizens love the federal State of Pakistan, this is our only abort, we are now at the cross roads of history – where all roads but one lead to destruction. We the people now demand a centralized focus on national security to save the State.
To surmount a roadmap is required, below are a few points to generate a national debate on that policy. The following amongst other points may be considered to form a national strategy to combat internal and external terrorism;
- Identify Pakistan’s national interests.
i) Maintain Pakistan’s territorial integrity;
ii) safeguard Pakistan’s nuclear assets;
iii) prepare a national socio-economic agenda;
iv) reprioritize resource allocation and invest in the people;
v) redefine regional and international relationships;
vi) formulate a clear policy on Afghanistan.
2. Develop a national counter insurgency strategy with all the stakeholders.
3. Identify commonality of approach with the West in the conflict on terror.
4. Clearly state the rules of engagements with international forces in the conflict on terror.
5. Move out of the state of denial, accept, reality as it stands on the ground and refrain from cover up.
6. Implement Parliamentary Resolutions and the Recommendations.
7. A more pronounced role for Parliament in policy formulation;
i) Hearings before the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence Committees of both Houses, on policy and briefings on meeting of military and political leadership with visitors from abroad.
8. Introducing the concept of Parliamentary accountability and ensuring Parliament’s supremacy.
9. Enactment of the NECTA Bill.
10. Amend the Anti-Terrorist Act, 1997, particularly for the affected areas.
11. Take concrete steps to shun the impression of a clash between various Institutions of the State.
12. Identify, if any, internal and external terrorist groups, and not to allow the soil of Pakistan for the support of terrorism.
13. The Government can initiate the following amongst other steps;
i) PM calls meeting of various Ulemas.
ii) PM calls meeting of all CMs, Chief Secretaries, IGPs, DG(ISI), DG(MI) and DG(IB), to build coordination in the effort against internal terrorism.
iii) The ban on proscribed organizations be strictly implemented.
iv) Cell to be established at the federal level to coordinate information between ISI, MI, IB and the provincial police – to meet twice a week.
v) Mass mobilization against internal terrorism in the form of rallies / political support.
vi) The Government needs to take the media, editors and anchors into confidence.
vii) The Government needs to take various civil society organizations into confidence.
viii) SHOs to be held responsible for any act of terrorism in their area.
a) The CID at the thana level needs to be revived.
ix) Cell at the District level of the police, ISI, MI, IB to share information with the federal cell formed above.
x) Foreign office be asked to take up a massive press offensive in the foreign media.
xi) Foreign Office to brief diplomats in Islamabad on the various steps being taken by the Government on a regular basis.
xii) Foreign Office to brief foreign capitals on the same steps.
xiii) Prime Minister to call a meeting of the DCC alongwith the Chief Ministers.
xiv) Prime Minister to take the political leadership into confidence.
xv) Build high security prisons for terrorist.
- The writers, intellectuals, poets, columnists, painters, artists, musicians, artisans and folklorists should come forward and take part in building the counter narrative. All cultural, literary, educational institutions will have to play their role to combat terrorism. Unfortunately, during the past few years we have overlooked the role of literary and cultural organizations, and have failed to learn a lesson from history. In China, Russia and other Third World countries these institutions have been in the vanguard of national struggles, which indeed this is.
I am aware, that the above Recommendations are not complete or may not be comprehensive enough, but the actual intent is to provide a working paper to the nation to begin a national debate for the formulation of a counter narrative in which the State its Institutions and the citizenry struggle shoulder to shoulder and march collectively towards progress which is Pakistan’s destiny.
(MIAN RAZA RABBANI)