The Imperiled National Security

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M Alam Brohi

Our reaction to the security disaster should have been commensurate with the magnitude and the frequency of the security breaches

The unauthorized recording of conversations of the highest within the fortified walls of high offices has laid bare our national security system. This should have caused alarms ringing about the security lapses in the country. Instead, these audio leaks have provided fodder to our politicians to start a new blame game against each other. The troubling question should have not been who said what and talked about what. Our political leadership should have been alarmed by who did it, and how and under what authority they did it.
These lapses should have shaken us out of our traditional ease and complacency and made us realize the waywardness of our intelligence apparatuses and the audacity of the mischievous and unscrupulous elements to break into the security of every high office, and the gravity of the piecemeal leak of the recorded conversations to discredit this or that leader. Even if all this was the dirty work of a hacker or a gang of hackers, our reaction to this security disaster for all right reasons should have been commensurate with the magnitude and the frequency of the security breaches.
While these audio leaks stirred a new contest in our print and electronic media houses to outdo each other in a sensational attempt for ranking, they have exposed the petty-mindedness and audacity of our political leaders to gloat over the lapses of each other making bold references to the clause 6 of the Constitution for political foes. In the fog of chaotic political squabble and media competition, the criminals responsible for this national crime seem to escape scot-free. This is what happens in the states termed banana republics by political scientists. We have been pushing our country into this status for a long. The game of videos and audios about our sitting judges remained unchallenged yesterday, and it has blown into an avalanche today. Only heavens know what serious dimensions this serious menace to our national security would acquire tomorrow.
All is not well in our dear country. The state seems besieged by powerful forces. The parliament is dysfunctional, thanks to the unwise decision of the opposition leader; the judiciary is riven by internecine rivalry and bickering; the executive is directionless; the opposition has become unstoppable; the economy evades rehabilitation; the food security is in the doldrums; one-third of the country is under flood waters; the famine-like misery of the victims is being treated by crumbs in camps infested with water-borne diseases; the corruption of the federal and provincial administrations and the traditional callousness of ruling elite remain pathetically indescribable.
The Prime Minister attended the UN General Assembly Session to mobilize the International Community for financial aid and made it a point to go there with a horde of Ministers and advisors enjoying their trip at the public expense. He came back with an economic wizard – known to be the miracle man of the Sharifs- having a free ride in his plane. His cabinet has ballooned to 75 Ministers, Advisors and Special Assistants. Since his appointment, the Foreign Minister has passed more time abroad than in his country leave alone in his flood-stricken province. His provincial Minister saddled with the responsibility of flood relief in Sindh addresses a presser every morning to discredit Imran Khan.
The Chief Minister of his province has sought a loan of millions of dollars from the World Bank for flood relief. The province had taken a loan of over $800million from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the US and Japan in 2014 for the improvement of education. Education, instead of taking a progressive leap, has retrograded all these years. The province has no dearth of resources. The lack of policy planning and the chronic pilferage of resources is the main cause of the woes of our dear land. With the new National Finance Commission in place since 2010, the share of the provinces from the federal divisible pool has registered a tremendous increase. The problem has always been how honestly and prudently the administration has been spending these resources. Even today, more than 7 million children between the age of 5-16 are out of school in the province.
In the background of the widespread devastation by flash floods and rains in urban and rural Sindh, my good friend Zulfiqar Halepoto who writes regularly in the local papers has revealed that Sindh incurred Rs.450billions in Irrigation and Rs.950billion in Local Government Departments in the period from 2008 to 2020 as compared with the bigger province of Punjab’s allocation of Rs.350billion and Rs.566billion respectively in the corresponding period. The performance of our irrigation and local government departments in floods and torrential rains during all these years needs no elaborate comments to bring home the notoriety of the loot and plunder in these departments. The flash floods washed away protective dykes like straws and the torrential rains drowned our towns and cities in waist-deep waters.
The scanty voices against the mishandling of flash floods are suppressed by registering cases under anti-terrorism laws against political activists. Starring among these political workers is Mir Mazhar Talpur who was leading a sit-in for discharging the accumulated flood waters of his area in districts Mirpurkhas and Badin through natural passages of water including Poran Haakro and Dhoro. Instead of intimidating opponents for petty political purposes, the Government should seek their support and cooperation and suggestions in rehabilitating the arable lands and small landholders in a substantive contribution to national food security.
The federal government will be well advised to maintain the political heat at a manageable level. The PML(N) hawks have found new leadership in Ms Maryam Nawaz Sharif, and are outweighing each other to push her for confrontation with Imran Khan. The upcoming by-elections will raise the political tempers. After the by-elections, Imran Khan should return to the parliament to strengthen the political system instead of invading the federal capital. In my honest view, he would gain nothing out of the derailment of the system.