Good governance comes from a policy spectrum that rules out disruptions and improves coordination. Like a rainbow, it is a uniform band of colours that combine to produce light. The aggregate of policy and good governance build a synergy. In a mission-oriented leadership it leads to ownership and participatory inclusion. This also means taking risks, brinkmanship and positive decision making.

Nation-building, particularly in crises, does not come through governance alone. It needs a statesman to lead and steer the ship and export the spirit to the lowest tiers of governance. If the statesman is wanting, the mission orientation will be flimsy and self-defeating. The cracks and pitfalls will widen, plunging the country from one crisis to another. This is what ails Pakistan.

This disconnect at multiple tiers has surfaced repeatedly, most recently the Quetta tragedy targeting a select group of intelligentsia. Such was the impact that COAS immediately rushed to Quetta and declared it an anti-CPEC act. His statement was completed by the Provincial Chief and Home Ministers who alleged involvement of hostile intelligence agencies. The Prime Minister too followed suit with a contrasting statement that the act was a threat to prevailing democracy. In defence of democracy, his whips and allies (Congress apologists) in the Parliament absolved hostile agencies and put the blame squarely on military and intelligence agencies. The neo-liberal and pro-India apologists, controlling the media joined with its spin. The theme that appears is that the military in Pakistan is abetting terrorism. How these birds of feather flock together is a scenario that is an ongoing debate. The government gets irked and feels threatened when military talks of CPEC.

The security and intelligence establishment, a big part of intelligentsia and media lament that despite LEA operations, the civilian part of National Action Plan is not implemented. Military courts hang in balance. The civil-military divide threatens the objectives of anti-terrorism plans. After Quetta, events followed a familiar pattern of conferences full of political rhetoric. The supposed shadow government besides showmanship did not assert itself. Each party has its peculiar subset of priorities that do not compliment the war on terror. Leadership in a nation torn by dissentions and crises is conspicuously absent.

The leader is bedrock of very strong principals, never compromising, firm in executions with no sympathy to the dearest. Pakistan needs leaders who do not hide behind lame excuses. In the obtaining environments like terrorism, non-performing microeconomics, bad macroeconomics, energy crises, exponential debts, the bedrock needs to be firm and not a pile of debris. Unfortunately, it is just that.

The leader must also possess a strong moral compass with a sense of absolute right and wrong. His moral integrity ought to be impeccable. He must not waiver in face of personal interests, and when the situation demands, take tough decisions. He should be able to inspire people to accept hard choices for nation building. But in Pakistan, the case is different. From Model Town massacre to Panama to Karachi, the governments are hiding behind flimsy legislations and TORs. Absolute wrongs are rights.

A leader’s vision must be built on insight and foresight. He must have a correct sense of history, a grasp of realisable potentials of the state and a framework to make it happen. He must be able to inspire his team and achieve a consensus on ends-means relationships in visions for futures. The government’s sense of history and vision are reflected in pro-Indianism and piles of concrete piling up in Lahore. There is no comprehensive development plan that makes Pakistan self-reliant and strong.

Some of the greatest leaders in history, at the peril of unpopularity, distinguish themselves in crisis. Pericles of Athens led his country to greatness during the Persian and Peloponnesian wars. I cite Thucydides in his funeral oration because this speech sets the precedence for democratic leaders:

“Our polity does not copy the laws of neighbouring states; we are rather a pattern to others…. It is called a democracy, because not the few but the many govern… laws afford equal justice to all in their private differences; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition.”

Abraham Lincoln suspended the right to habeas corpus during the Civil War, and Winston Churchill advocating British Imperialism did not hesitate to bomb Dresden.

Democracy with its divergence appears disruptive but is not. As the three role models indicate, democracy’s inclusive nature backed by good leaders turn it to strength. We saw this in Brexit and failed military coup in Turkey. To make space for diverse ideas, all democracies are represented by conservative right and social democrats. Yet, despite the ideological differences, the core interests of the country are never compromised. Diversions and departures in tactics do not compromise the ultimate objectives. In Pakistan, the situation is perilous on many counts.

The biggest issue in Pakistan’s policy making is the absence of a cohesive spectrum. No template of Pakistan’s realisable national power in a timeframe has ever been made. To the contrary, different subsets contradict each other. As a result, economics and technology the logistic powerhouse of policy do not play their role. This results in dependence followed by compromises. Resultantly, economic management suffers, human resource development is not optimum and logistics of a war on terror cannot be sustained. As a political linkage, poverty grows in direct relation to crimes. This in turn provides happy hunting grounds to militants.

Mournfully, Pakistan lacks a leader who can seize the moment and lead the country to its true potential. In despair, people look at the military as saviors, a temptation military has resisted. Tragically, most political parties rather than exploit this space for goodness have used it to undermine the National Action Plan. They forget that military competence and role in national development is an integral part of civilian supremacy. Lack of alternate plans to defeat militancy equates to ‘milk and kill’ at the same time.

National Action Plan is a reflection of this disconnect. I have been a critic of this plan from the day of its inception. This plan was never assertive enough to be implementable in Pakistan’s corrupt political culture.

If USA can revise its Homeland Security after 9/11 and if France can impose emergency after Paris attacks, why can’t Pakistan’s leaders show courage and conviction to draft a National Security Policy followed by a National Counter Terrorism Policy. Following APS massacre, General Raheel Sharif with a clear road map relentlessly pushed and prodded a military led plan in isolation. The contingency plans of the army never shaped into a concise national action. As I commented, NAP would be vulnerable to cracks that lack detail and non-cooperation from the state and provinces. Politicians in awe of being exposed did not give it the needed support. There is no realization that further turmoil will widen the cracks and destroy everything. Though the military realizes this, the two main political parties and their allies are on a collision course. The stage is set to exploit the military’s precedence of succession and clip its wings. This certainly is not Pakistan’s agenda.

This explains the contradictions and outrage following Quetta. The civilian establishment is not prepared to co-opt military in its critical decision making. It will sacrifice principals of leadership mentioned above for self-serving expediencies. On the eve of its 69th Independence Day, Pakistan is a distant priority.

In this entire drama of self-preservation, plagued by lack of vision, absence of leadership, massive corruption, lack of accountability and noncooperation, the military should seize the opportunity as demanded by Mehmood Khan Achakzai to present its performance under NAP to the Parliament. For once, truth and only the truth should be laid bare and all actors responsible for stalling counter terrorism should be identified and exposed.

In addition, the country should look forward to a redrafted counter terrorism policy that puts the good, bad and ugly in one basket. Militant organisations that served US interests in Afghanistan and are not part of TTP should be disarmed and diversified into the mainstream activity.

National Action Plan or its redrafted version will never serve the ends of policy. The country needs a broad based Counter Terrorism Policy supported by laws. If the prime minister feels insecure, he should impose an emergency for a predetermined duration and put the country on the right track. Given cogent arguments, the Supreme Court will be prompt in endorsing it. It is all a question of ‘clarity and will’ that is in short supply. Seeing a rainbow is a distant dream.

Note: This opinion must be read in conjunction with ‘Counter Terrorism and Oversight’ published in Nation on December 27, 2014.

n             The writer is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a political economist.