Radd-ul-Fasaad: Now or Never (Part-I)

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While the government has come quite heavily against sectarian violence and religious persecution, it clearly failed to initiate any meaningful initiative to reform our criminal justice system

With a full media blitz Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad has been launched nationwide. What differentiates it from Operation Zarb-e-Azb is perhaps the resolve now visible within the political leadership to go for a comprehensive elimination of the “latent and residual threat through a broad spectrum security and counter terrorism operations” across the country as mentioned in the ISPR Press Release. Before dilating on the resolve and the comprehensiveness of Radd-ul-Fasaad it is essential to first evaluate the implementation of National Action Plan so far, so that the weakness are brought to fore before a few suggestions are proffered for the successful execution of Radd-ul-Fasaad.

Out of 274 convictions so far by the military courts, and 161 death sentences awarded, only 12 have made it to the gallows, while the remaining are under process with the government in various forms of review. With NACTA envisioned to be strengthened as part of NAP, it is still far from an effective body commensurate to its spirit and the threat spectrum confronted. Security operations against militant organizations and armed gangs across the country especially in FATA have witnessed great successes in dismantling their strongholds while reducing their abilities to plan and conduct terrorist operations. With militant leadership intact mostly in Afghanistan, this effort is also far from being over. There has been hardly any progress on controlling financial flow to the terrorist and its affiliated organizations across the country. Similarly there has not been any impressive progress on the registration and regulation of religious seminaries, considered an important part of NAP. There has been a clearly visible lack of political will on the ongoing operation in Karachi and commencement of a meaningful operation in Punjab. Though there has been meaningful progress on the raising of counter-terrorism force by the respective provinces, but its training and employment lacks focus as most of them are visibly seen performing VIP duties rather than counter-terrorism operations for which they were raised. Not completely but to a great extent the government has progressed in reducing cyber space to terrorist organizations and media glorification of their terrorist actions with effective cooperation of both print and electronic media. On the administrative and political reforms in FATA and return of IDPs, the government’s actions are still on papers while some IDPs are still languishing in camps to be relocated to their towns and villages. Similarly the issue of repatriating Afghan refugees is still in the process of working out modalities by Ministry of SAFRON with UNHCR and other government bodies. On empowering Balochistan government for political reconciliation with dissident elements, the government has made sincere efforts, though without achieving much, mainly due to weak foreign policy initiatives as most of these elements resides outside Pakistan. Finally, while the government has come quite heavily against sectarian violence and religious persecution, it clearly failed to initiate any meaningful initiative to reform our criminal justice system considered to be the mother of all ills in our society.

A brief and dispassionate evaluation above clearly indicates why we have so far not been able to comprehensively defeat the menace. The spectacular achievements of Zarb-e-Azb militarily could not be pursued in the politico developmental areas with the same momentum by other elements of national power for capacity issues, and in some cases lack of will for reasons of political expediencies. Additionally since the menace has a foreign dimension to it, mainly due to the ongoing tug of war in Afghanistan and the increasing footprints of India with the tacit support of US, no domestic effort alone will guarantee us lasting peace both within the country and region unless the foreign policy instrument is geared up on war footing in support of the overall national effort.

It therefore is of utmost importance, that the government and the security apparatus undertakes a dispassionate review of its policy framework and strategy to make it palatable and responsive to the threat that is not only real but dynamic. It needs to be clearly understood that the enemies design is to perpetuate the threat on the inner front in order to create and widen the cleavages besides sapping the potential and energies of security apparatus simultaneously attempting to weaken our national resolve to defeat the menace. What needs to be done and by whom will be handled in the next article.

To be continued