Draining the swamp (II)

Raashid Wali Janjua

The factors and events leading upto this declaration of war include a new Army leadership change in Pakistan, a political leadership tainted with corruption charges in self-preservation mode, lapse of military courts’ jurisdiction, the usual procrastination of policy makers to offer a substitute, emergence of a hawkish leadership in USA, winning over of few erstwhile Afghan government nemeses like Gulbadin Hikmatyar, and a renewed Indo-US entente cordiale to stymie Chinese CPEC initiative in Pakistan. Two serious developments accompany the recent spate of suicide attacks. One is the lowering of the guard on part of Pakistani law enforcement and counter terrorism apparatus due to a perceived weakening of the TTP led terrorism due to past Army led operations. Second factor is the lack of balanced policy inputs to the White House by the military component of US establishment.
The composition of the US National Security Council now shows Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of National Intelligence being relegated to lower tier and available only on call instead of forming part of Principals’ Committee. The inputs of neophytes like Steve Bannon, with a linkage with apocalyptic visions of Armageddon, prognosticate trouble for Pakistan whose cause was traditionally pleaded well by Pentagon in the past. The above developments have apparently coincided well with the full operationalisation of “Doval Doctrine” that was unveiled through calculated leaks and public utterances of Ajit Doval, the Indian National Security Advisor. An ex RAW operative who publically revels in his intelligence exploits in Pakistan is a viscerally charged Pakistan hater and who is spearheading India’s new destabilizing strategy backed by unprecedentedly high budget allocations to RAW to achieve its sinister designs in Pakistan.
There isn’t a modicum of doubt that the present string of bomb blasts in busy city centers and religious shrines has been facilitated by external funding and support. The battered and decapitated TTP leadership and its affiliates that are on the run could simply have mustered no strength to turn on the state and society so soon without active involvement of RAW and its regional and extra regional allies. Indian hatred and Sino-US jostle for regional relevance have put Pakistan in a nut cracker like situation where nothing other than its own resilience and will to confront the enemy matters most. We can blame the external actors and exogenous factors for our present woes till kingdom come but will not find a solution till we do not dig deep into our inner reserves of resilience to set our house in order. And order we must achieve at this hour of peril when enemy is knocking at the gates.
It is time to rally the defiant spirit of the doughty Turkish warriors on Gallipoli beaches who heeded the Cri de Coeur of their redoubtable leader i.e Mustafa Kemal to push back the Anzac attackers into the Aegean sea who had roared, “Soldiers I do not ask you to fight, I ask you to die”. There are many Chamberlains here amongst us who somehow find redemption in appeasement but appeasement as history tells us never wins wars. It is the Churchillian spirit of defiance that rallies a nation to prodigies of valour at a time when the national survival is at stake. Who are the Churchills and Mustafa Kemals amongst us and who are the Chamberlains is for everyone to see. Those self-centered leaders who still oppose FATA’s merger with KP due to political expediencies and those parliamentary purists who doggedly oppose anti terrorist measures are playing into the hands of those who seek to destabilize the country. A time has come when the sympathizers of the extremists and the facilitators of terrorists should be viewed with equal disdain without equivocation by the state.
The above cannot be achieved without draining the swamp of the sympathizers and facilitators of terrorism. The facilitation spans a wide gamut from sympathy to actual financial and logistical help. It is time we stopped calling hatcheries of extremism and logistical bases of terrorism as the “world’s largest welfare NGOs”. It is time we pulled plug on self-deluding fictions of good and bad militants. There is simply no scope for anodyne solutions and placebos any longer. There are countries in the world that have done a far better job of draining the similar swamps than us. The British employed such tactics successfully against Malayan communist Party apparatchiks and guerillas. The famous Briggs plan and Gerald Templar’s tenacity saw a force of 40,000 British and Commonwealth troops flushing out a well entrenched force of 8000 communist guerillas. The plan involved relocation of some 500,000 squatters on the fringes of jungle sanctuaries of insurgents to deny food and logistic support to insurgents. Here we are shying away from registering Madressahs and illegal Afghan settlers in our midst.
The Irish Republican Army was forced to come on negotiating table when the British government employed a well-resourced police force in the lead counter terrorism role keeping Army as a counter insurgency backstop in the Northern Ireland. The kinetic operations were supported by necessary modifications in the criminal justice system in the shape of “Diplock courts” where incognito judges dispensed quick justice.
These “Diplock courts” were the present day equivalent of our military courts. There is a dire need to address both the endogenous as well as exogenous factors imperiling national as well as human security in Pakistan. An exterior manoeuvre leveraging our geostrategic location’s advantage must accompany a declaration of national counter terrorism emergency without any further pussyfooting over essential reforms. China, Russia, Iran, and Arab world need to be won over to our side through real politic besides engaging USA and Afghanistan in peace partnership while exposing Indian role in terrorist activities on Pakistani soil.
A soft state having ungoverned spaces is an invitation to terrorism. Iran Saudi Arabia and even Egypt have not gone the way of Pakistan due to strong state law enforcement apparatus that gives no quarters to extremists and militants. On internal front we need to drain the swamp of the terrorists’ sympathizers and that whether we like or not includes Madressahs, sectarian outfits, and some religious political parties.
It is time our political leadership accords top priority to this existential threat.


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