At war with itself
Never before has a nuclear state been invaded twice in the same month. First by the foreign and then by the local terrorists. But the most disappointing aspect of these events was not the loss of assets but the loss of any sense of remorse, regret, shame or sorrow. It was business as usual. Responses like “there had been no breach of security”, “they took advantage of the darkness” and “it was a failure of all nations of the world” reflect not just ineptitude and shamelessness but also deceptiveness and delusion. A refusal to acknowledge that Pakistan is finally at a full blown war with itself.
Pakistan is often compared with a terminally ill patient in an ICU, whose attendants have either abandoned or are engaged in pursuits that have nothing to do with the wellbeing of the patient. While it may be a sad and painful comparison, acknowledging the existence and the nature of a disease is vital to any set of subsequent corrective actions. These are defined as actions to eliminate the cause of a detected nonconformity in order to prevent its re-occurrence. Unfortunately those who make our vital decisions continue to live in a state of denial and are not willing to face harsh realities.
Even as the vital signs drop and the options truncate, Pakistan could take a series of steps to still cause a change of course. Insisting on delinquent behaviours and ignoring the real issues for past several decades has left Pakistan with increasingly bitter and complex choices. The 40000 or so ‘madrassahs’ need to be closed down and replaced by regular schools that provide free (and good) education, food and books – not an easy task for a government whose own schooling system is rotten and dysfunctional. The Ulemas and Imams spreading hate, supporting militancy or issuing ‘fatwas’ of any sort should be firmly taken to task. Pakistan needs a complete deweaponisation of ‘all’ segments of society and ‘all’ kinds of weapons (licensed or otherwise). A government that has encouraged private armies and militant gangs by itself issuing at least 83679 arms licenses in the last 3 years will surely find it difficult to even begin a serious dialogue on this subject.
There is a need to ensure that every vehicle on the road is registered, has an approved number plate and can be traced to a legitimate owner. In Karachi alone, there are at least 5000 illegal or stolen vehicles that roam around with fake or no number plates. It does not require an Orion P-3C to detect these vehicles, very often used for terrorist activities.
The irresistible addiction to foreign loans and their wasteful spending has produced a breed of demented leaders who are dependent, subservient and sold out to foreign lenders. Pakistan is hooked on to borrowed money for each day of its existence and therefore must do (more) as demanded. Saying NO to all loans may therefore be the first step towards a healing process. The state must also shed its tendencies to assume the divine responsibility for making laws that define what is Islamic and what is not. It is the only state in the world whose corrupt and fake degree-holding parliament decides who is a Muslim and who is not. The state must not compete with terrorists on grounds of religion. It must limit itself to its primary duties and get out of the department of interpreting or implementing religion.
Pakistan needs to stop pampering its law-breaking and tax-avoiding ruling elite, and shift the focus of all development to the well being of its underprivileged classes. They need regular jobs, decent schools, efficient hospitals and expedient justice. This could happen if the military was to be trimmed to become lean and efficient instead of fat and sloppy. The two Orions could have been saved by common sense and creativity without banking on high tech and expensive weapons. A hugely spread army, always supporting one or the other types of ‘Jihadis’ is not in the interest of Pakistan or the rest of the world.
Pakistanis are rapidly beginning to realize that they are utterly unsafe in the hands of those who run the state and its security apparatus. They have been repeatedly let down, and there has never been a recourse to reform or accountability. Perhaps when the interests, residences and money of the rulers reside in foreign lands, it is unreasonable to expect them to fight for the territory or the rights of the ordinary people. The present set of rulers will therefore make none of the changes suggested above and will only continue to do more of the same. It is therefore time to demand a change of crew if Pakistan is to have a half decent chance for recovery. Should not the President, the PM, The Defence Minister, the Interior Minister, the three Service Chiefs and the ISI Chief, who have lost the trust of the people of Pakistan, be asked to resign? In a more civilised country this would have already happened – and that too voluntarily.
Express Tribune May 2011