Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pakistan: Imran Khan’s proposal

Daily Times
The All Parties Conference (APC) to reach consensus on a viable national security strategy was supposed to be held on July 12, but was postponed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. There may be good reasons behind the delaying of the APC, such as the realization that the much-touted negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may not be the best way, by themselves, to tackle national security issues. The Prime Minister (PM) has consulted the ISI and has also been briefed by the interior ministry on the menace of terrorism, which may have caused a shift in the PML-N leadership’s attitude. The PM has recently become less vocal about negotiating with the TTP, unlike previously when he was enthusiastically promoting the rhetoric that negotiations were the only way out of this conundrum. Imran Khan’s recent statement in which he asks the PM and the Chief of Army Staff to have a closed-door meeting with him further jeopardizes the prospects of an APC taking place soon. He claims that an APC on national security may be ‘inappropriate’ at this time because disclosing all facts regarding national security publicly will not be prudent. He further says that a closed-door meeting to ascertain all the facts should be held first before making an attempt to formulate a holistic anti-terrorism policy. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader has previously also expressed his party’s lack of faith in an APC as similar meetings held in the past did not prove to be successful. Imran Khan shed some light on why previous APCs did not produce results and said that the PPP government continuously lied to parliament and the people about its covert agreements with the US regarding the war on terror and issues such as drone strikes. Imran Khan’s proposal is puzzling to say the least. He may be right in saying that certain sensitive information concerning national security should not be disclosed publicly, but if he wishes to have a meeting behind closed doors with the PM and COAS, why shouldn’t the rest of the political leadership be taken on board and apprised of the situation in similar fashion? One individual should not be given such a privileged status that his request to be privately briefed by the civil and military heads of the country is obliged. Moreover, Imran Khan’s incessant claims that the root cause of terrorism in Pakistan is our involvement in the war on terror are flawed, as the Pakistani Taliban came into existence years after Pervez Musharraf allied Pakistan with the US. The TTP, in fact, was the result of the Lal Masjid operation carried out by the military regime in 2007. The TTP’s goals are to topple the state system and impose their version of Shariah on the people. As has become manifest over the years, the TTP and its affiliated organizations have no qualms about ruthlessly killing soft targets such as civilians just to bring the government to its knees and force it to comply with their unreasonable demands. Negotiations can only take place where there is room for compromise. Considering that the TTP does not even believe in the political process and considers many political leaders of Pakistan to be infidels worthy of being killed, how can anyone expect to hold meaningful negotiations with such irrational people? Imran Khan is right in saying that the civilian-military leadership should be on the same page and that the people deserve to know the truth about any secret deals with the US. However, he should understand that the leadership of every major political party has an equal right to be consulted regarding terrorism. Also, Imran Khan should realize that the right way to deal with the Pakistani Taliban is to adopt a firm approach, although the door for negotiations should never be closed for any faction of TTP that believes in dialogue. The federal government, provincial governments and the security apparatus should all build consensus on adopting a zero-toleration policy against these miscreants who have caused immense damage to Pakistan.

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