The brouhaha around the ISPR’s statement regarding the implementation of the NAP—whilst fair in the respect that its timing and tone could have been improved upon is not entirely unfounded. Over the past few months, doubts have been raised over the effective implementation of the plan. The responsibility for such may be shared between the civil and the military leadership but the fact of the matter remains that the civil leadership has not been able to follow through with complete conviction and for this, it must be held responsible—perhaps, even more than the military which can even in the best of arrangements take us as far as helping make tactical gains. Complimentary measures must be taken—and are always expected to be taken—by the political leadership.
Pakistan may need more time to fully understand and internalize democratic norms and values but it also must be stressed that the urgency with which it needs its political leadership to take ‘decisive action’ against extremism and terrorism has also increased exponentially. While we can debate whether the forum for pointing out the government’s inadequacies was ideal or not, it can be said with a fair degree of certainty that the content was not far from the truth. The realization of such also exists within the political and bureaucratic circles. NACTA has been functioning without a formally appointed staff and service rules for more than half a decade. Madrassa reform is still a sensitive issue and leaves a lot to be desired. It is only fair that other stakeholders, even if that includes the military will voice their concerns at some point in time.
A more suave statement, ideally at a non-public forum could just as well have communicated the concerns of the military. It is correct to view this as improper but again, it is time that we address the elephant in the room. What, by and large, has made up for an atmosphere where the civil and military leadership could have cooperated to take the country out of murky waters is proving to be a trying task; patience is running low and time is running out. Both parties understand that Pakistan’s problems stand a better chance of being resolved permanently if democracy is allowed to flourish but for this to happen some 68 years later, we must expect some unorthodox routes to be taken to get to the Promised Land.
By Minahil K.