Critical Hour Needs True Leadership Qualities
At this critical hour, Pakistan has been facing multifaceted crises and threats of grave nature, which are not only worrying all the citizens but are also putting the very integration of the state at stake. In this regard, a series of unprovoked cross-border firings at the LoC in Kashmir by India in wake of war-like diplomacy, cross-border infiltration in Pakistan from Afghanistan’s side and CIA-operated drone attacks have no end.
Besides previous high-profile acts of terrorism by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliated groups, more than 80 people died when two suicide attackers struck the All Saints Church in Peshawar on September 22, this year. For this barbaric act at the church, Pakistan umbrella Taliban faction, Junood ul-Hifsa claimed responsibility, saying it will kill foreigners and non-Muslims to avenge US drone strikes. The new group works under the direction of the TTP. As part of its duplicity, on September 24, TTP spokesman Shahid Shahidullah denied the Taliban’s role in the church attack and termed it a conspiracy to derail the peace process. Despite its bid to distance itself from the church carnage, the TTP was involved. A few days before the church assault, Maj-Gen. Sanaullah Khan including a lieutenant colonel and a soldier were killed in a landmine attack in Upper Dir. TTP claimed responsibility for that terror-act. On September 27, 21 people were killed when a remote control device exploded in a Bus, carrying secretariat employees, at Charsada Road in Kyber Pakhtoonkhwa.
In the recent years, terror-attacks by the militants on the installations of Pak Army, Air Force, offices of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Rangers, Police and assaults on Army outposts including ruthless beheadings of innocent civilians and prominent figures were conducted especially by the TTP’s insurgents and its umbrella militant outfits which targeted Shias, Ahmadis, Sufis, Christians and Sikhs.
It is notable that based in Afghanistan external secret agencies like American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have perennially been supporting bomb blasts, suicide attacks, abductions, target killings, ethnic and sectarian violence in various parts of the country through TTP, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and other insurgent organizations to destabilize and denuclearize Pakistan, because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. These militant outfits which have connections with each other including some Baloch feudal lords (Sardars) want to fulfill the secret strategic designs of US, India and Israel at the cost of Pakistan, China and Iran. Besides martyring several personnel of law-enforcing agencies and security forces in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Karachi, these foreign-backed entities kidnapped and massacred many Punjabis, Pushtuns and Shias including Chinese and Iranian nationals.
Besides facing political instability, financial losses and social strife more than 40,000 people were killed and 8,000 personal of the security forces sacrificed their lives in coping with these stateless actors in order to maintain the security of the country.
Particularly, US double game with Pakistan, accusation of cross border terrorism, perennial propaganda against Pak Army and ISI have continued unabated.
The targeted operation which continues by the Rangers against terrorists, target killers and kidnappers, launched by the present government, after obtaining consensus of all stakeholders, especially political parties whose leaders participated in the All Parties Conference (APC). The operation is rapidly achieving successes. But, it is regrettable that some analysts are using media to create misperception that operation in Karachi will fail. On the other hand, without any discrimination, the Ranger’s personal, and those of Police have arrested several criminals and terrorists besides capturing huge catches of arms and weapons in Karachi.
The hostile elements also propagate that the government and Army were not on the same page, as Army wanted to use force against militants, while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif favoured dialogue. Army wanted the talks to be held as per Constitution of Pakistan and all non-state actors were required to lay down their arms before the start of dialogue, while no such pre-condition was laid by APC. They opined that all past peace accords with the Taliban failed and APC consensus on the option of dialogue is also likely to fail.
Notably, besides acts of sabotage, a deliberate propaganda campaign also keeps on going against Pakistan by the foreign-enemies who intend to achieve their desired goals. And these Taliban provide every opportunity to external elements in tarnishing the image of the country through their criminal acts. In this context, in an article titled, “Only in Pakistan Can the Taliban be Described as Stakeholders” published by the Daily Telegraph on September 10, 2013, Rob Crilly, indicated cynical criticism of APC resolution. The article alleged, “Haqqani Network is a proxy of ISI and one of the factions responsible for terrorism in Pakistan…Taliban who are kidnappers, assassins of school girls and suicide bombers, have become stakeholders in Pakistan.”
Now, various segments of society have demanded to use force against the Taliban instead of pursuing the dialogue option, while Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif still seeks to initiate peace talks with the Taliban. Taking cognizance of the recent terror-attacts, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the government might review its decision to hold talks with the Taliban in consultation with all political parties, but he still supported peace process with the militants.
Meanwhile, Chief of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan strongly favoured peace process with the Taliban, and even suggested to open an office for them in this regard.
But the Chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman who has supported dialogue with the Taliban, called Imran Khan’s suggestion as ‘childish.’ Chief of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Munawar Hasan who also supports peace talks, stated that he was willing to act as a mediator between the government and the TTP, but there are many groups of Taliban, and with whom he or government will have peace process.
However, our rulers seem to be confused in relation to initiate peace process with the militants. Apart from it, the government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is facing multiple crises and issues.
In August, this year Federal Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar informed the members of the National Assembly that on the directives of Supreme Court of Pakistan, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was investigating the cases of 11,000 NATO/ISAF missing containers. NAB is presently conducting investigation and has not yet confirmed its findings. Therefore, the exact number of containers and quantum of revenue loss thereof has not so far been determined. Earlier, the apex court took notice of corruption in the country, saying that the present government had not taken action in this respect, remarking as to why the corrupt-individuals were not sent in jails.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s economic crisis has intensified, bringing about other-related problems like load shedding, unemployment, soaring prices of products and dependence upon the US-led developed countries, and IMF and World Bank for financial aid.
Although Pakistan stands at the crossroads of its destiny, facing multi-faceted internal and external challenges, yet instead of showing lack of political will and competence to safeguard the national interests, our rulers need to display true leadership qualities in resolving all these issues.
A renowned thinker, Morgenthau opines, “A country should mould its policy in accordance with the circumstances of time and place. Notably, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Vladimir Putin offer precedents of real leadership characteristics, as they have extracted their countries from myriad problems of serious nature. It is what one must expect from the present rulers.
At this crucial juncture, our prime minister should not waver between fact and skepticism by displaying indecisiveness. He must show true leadership qualities like vision, courage, wisdom and tolerance to pull the country from the ongoing quagmire. His farsightedness can unite the politicians, security forces and the general masses so as to face internal and external crises.
Prime Minister Sharif should also control the media and internal entities like so-called NGOs which speak in the tone of anti-Pakistan elements in implicating country’s law-enforcing and security agencies through false propaganda. Especially, our media must encourage armed forces in fighting the war against terrorism.
No doubt, all these issues and crises can be resolved, if our rulers show pragmatic approach by pursuing true leadership qualities.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Affairs