By Asif Haroon Raja : –
Terrorism was pushed into Pakistan from Afghanistan by the ones who had engineered 9/11 and initiated war on terror in October 7, 2001. Pakistan was made an ally to capture Afghanistan but was then forced to fight against its own people on its soil. Terrorist groups in FATA and Baluchistan and a political party in Karachi were fully supported by foreign powers to destabilize Pakistan and then at an opportune time extract its nuclear teeth.
The Army did a splendid job in defeating terrorism after recapturing 18 units in the northwest, breaking the back of separatist movement in Baluchistan and dismantling the militant wing of MQM which had bloodied Karachi. While the Army did its job commendably, the political, economic and judicial prongs that were required to move in step with the Army lagged behind. The civil administration has yet to take over the captured regions in northwest or in interior Baluchistan. Military courts had to be established in early 2015 because of dismal performance of the lower courts. Not a single terrorist was convicted and punished. The Army undertook management of the internally displaced people and development works and is now managing their rehabilitation and resettlement. Cadet colleges and technical colleges have been opened in South and North Waziristan and in interior Baluchistan.
After clearing North Waziristan, the Army is now hunting sleeping cells, facilitators, abettors and sympathisers of terrorists in urban centres. In the process, the Army gathered that political leaders in Sindh were financing terrorism to the tune of Rs. 260 billion annually. Dr Asim Hussain and Uzair Baloch provided lot of information in this regard, which forced Asif Zardari and top guns of PPP to flee to Dubai. The Army has now learnt that corruption is the root cause of all the ailments including terrorism and until and unless this cancer is rooted out terrorism cannot be eliminated. However, the politicians see nothing wrong with corruption particularly when the PPP during its last rule (2008-13) institutionalized it and broke all records of corruption. Since then, corruption has seeped into every layer of society which has degenerated the morals of the society as a whole.
Politicians are least interested in saving honor and dignity of their own or their families. They think money and power will make them famous. They are not much interested in national interests since they cannot comprehend national security issues. They are not interested in true democracy, or rule of law, strict accountability, fair and free elections, ethics and values or in spreading education. They are least concerned about the plight of the poor who elect them. Hence they pay little attention to their basic problems of jobs, education, clean drinking water, justice and security of life, honor and property. The only interest they have in life is their self-interest which they guard zealously.
For about seven decades the politicians in league with bureaucrats, industrialists and businessmen have been systematically looting the nation and enriching their coffers with wealth
earned through commissions, kickbacks and corruption. Practice of corruption gained currency after 1985 and peaked between 2008 and 2013. Most of their black money has been secretly syphoned to foreign banks and offshore companies. Panama leaks has given a glimpse of it. They have purchased high value property in posh areas of Dubai, London, Washington and New York. Their insatiable lust for power, pelf and wealth has made Pakistan poor and debt ridden. Over 35% live below poverty line while the lower middle class is finding it difficult to make their two ends meet.
To safeguard their ill-gotten wealth and property, the politicians dupe the people by singing songs of democracy and by making false promises, but neither empower local bodies nor fulfill their promises. They bend or break laws at will to suit their whims and defy the judiciary. Axe of accountability fall upon the poor or those in opposition. They have politicized the police, bureaucracy and other government agencies. Hideous Thana (Police) culture and Patwari system has remained in vogue all these years. Education has purposely been given lowest priority to keep the masses illiterate and ignorant. They want workforce for their lands and industries and for domestic works. They favor status quo since Anglo-Saxon laws and Westminster democracy are pro-rich and anti-poor.
No effort has ever been made to carryout political, electoral, and judicial and police reforms and whatever efforts made were cosmetic in nature. Despite the country overburdened with the weight of over $70 billion foreign debt, the rulers and elites have brought no change in their ostentatious lifestyle and continue to lavishly waste government resources like parasites. At the same time they keep begging the US, IMF and World Bank for more loans to upkeep their high lifestyle. They also have the bad habit of flaunting their wealth shamelessly.
The PPP initially had Al-Zulfiqar terrorist group as its militant wing and later made Lyari gangs in Karachi to confront MQM’s militancy. Politicised police and civil administration have been protecting the militants while RAW has been guiding them to keep Karachi lawless. Raisani government in Baluchistan (2008-2013) was also involved in criminal activities, while ANP government in Khyber Pakhtunistan (KP) was involved in massive corruption and opposed Kalabagh dam. Earlier on, the MMA governments in KP and Baluchistan (2002-2008) patronized religious extremist groups.
Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Rangers led operation in Karachi apart from giving deadly blows to crime and terrorism also revealed for the first time that the ones sitting in power in Sindh are in league with criminal elements to promote crime and terrorism and earn money. MQM and PPP have all along been financing criminal gangs and Mafias and are now financing terrorism. The ones in jails were also well looked after. This well-knit nexus has mixed up crime, terrorism and corruption with politics. MQM believes in politics of violence and blackmail and had gained control over Karachi through terrorization. It got linked with RAW in 1989 and since then the party has been funded and its militants trained in India to undertake crimes ranging from target killings, extortion, land grabbing, kidnappings for ransom, bank robberies, murdering key witnesses, investigators and prosecutors and threatening judges.
This crime and terrorism interconnection has been broken but so far only small fishes in plenty have been netted and none has so far been convicted and punished except for Saulat Mirza who was hanged. The big fish are yet to be caught and put on trial. Arrest of Indian spy Kal Bhushan Yadav has given an idea about the extent of penetration made by RAW in Pakistan since 2002. RAW network extends from Baluchistan, where it is connected with BLA, BRA, BLF, Baloch nationalist Sardars, to Makran Coast, to Karachi Coast where many fishermen of both Pakistan and India are acting as agents, to MQM in Karachi, to southern Punjab where Chottu gang and several other gangs operated, to FATA where it was connected with TTP and its affiliates.
While the PML-N government has taken some bold initiatives to improve the economy and to control law and order as well as terrorism, and has been extending full support to the ongoing operations in the three conflict zones, but a lot is yet to be done. Little work has so far been taken on certain important aspects of 20-point National Action Plan, like operationalization of Joint Intelligence Directorate, reforms of Madrassas, Police and FATA. Poverty which breeds extremism and terrorism, injustice which rear hatred against the elites, and corruption which promotes all sorts of evils including terrorism are not in the list of corrective measures.
Since corruption is common to all political parties, no party is in a position to point finger at others. There is a dire need for all parties to carryout in-house screening to weed out black sheep. Ongoing tussle between the government and opposition over the judicial commission and terms of reference with regard to Panama leaks is losing steam owing to division in opposition parties and problems within PTI. The people are however charged up and want across the board accountability of all the wrongdoers. They look towards Gen Raheel Sharif to rid Pakistan from the leeches that are sucking the blood of the nation and want him to stay on beyond November. Gen Raheel is focused and is determined to take the ongoing operations to their logical conclusion and to make CPEC functional before hanging his boots in November.
(The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of 5 books, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Thinkers forum Pakistan. He takes part in TV talk shows and delivers talks)