It was a relatively peaceful few months after the launch of the military operation in North Waziristan and life in most of the country was returning to normal when Pakistanis were jolted into reality with a retaliatory suicide strike that targeted the flag lowering ceremony at JCP Wagha. The attack resulted in large scale devastation and death, raising the question: had the temporary lull bred a sense of complacency in institutions mandated to protect the life and property of citizens?

The incident also raised many questions regarding the role of Provincial and Federal Governments in implementing the high sounding strategies outlined by the Interior Minister in his press conferences not so long ago. It also brought into stark focus the inability of the Government to understand that maintenance of law and order is primarily the responsibility of assets that operate under the Ministry of Interior. This lack of cognisance was clearly visible in a recent appearance of Punjab’s former Law Minister on a private channel and his implied refusal to acknowledge that dragging the Armed Forces into a policing role was a definite non-option.

It appears that PML N Governments, both in Punjab and the Centre are either incapable of intelligent thinking or involved in a desperate fight for political survival at the cost of a single and most critical issue: an unstable internal security environment. Instead of capacity building within the police to effectively combat the threat that endangers the state and its citizens, the Prime Minister and his team are using the Pakistan Army for tasks which entail drawing troops away from their primary role of defending our borders.

It is becoming apparent that a critical component of enemy policy is to keep our Army embroiled in internal security duties. Even the most ignorant of laymen will understand the adverse effects of such involvement on operational military capability, but all ‘credit’ to our politicians in power who appear to have fallen happily into the trap, oblivious of the looming danger and the fact that history may one day hold them accountable for ‘collaborating’ with the enemies of Pakistan. This time, the Interior Ministry is not likely to get out of the mess keeping in mind the growing public criticism regarding priorities and the argument that funds earmarked for the Islamabad Metro Bus Project, would have been better utilised for implementing national security measures outlined by the Minister concerned.

As if this was not enough, the rebellion within the ranks of PML N is now out in the open. The ‘forward bloc’ as such groups are generally labelled, is spearheaded by the veteran and much respected politician Sardar Zulfikar Khosa. This gentleman has throughout his political career avoided unnecessary limelight, something which cannot be said for many of his colleagues. In one of his rare appearances on a private news channel, he claimed that a significant number of the ruling party members were part of his group and their main purpose was to reclaim Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League from those that had usurped and distorted it as if it was a family concern.

From a bird’s eye view, PML N appears to be backing towards a wall, where there is no escape. Much of what is happening to this party is its own doing – a result of late or in many cases ‘no’ decision making, bloated egos and over confidence fuelled by a fawning coterie of ministers and advisors.

Notwithstanding the errors of judgement and apathy displayed by those responsible, there is some time (albeit little) to make amends and focus on the most critical issue facing Pakistan’s very survival. The Pakistani nation is not likely to forgive and forget if this is not done now and with speed.

n    The writer is a freelance columnist.