K Iqbal - F ormal facade of Pakistan movement was pegged around three important objectives: ensuring adequate political freedom for the Muslims, living in Muslim majority zones of undivided India, by dropping the baggage of living under the shadow of over whelming Hindu majority in the British India; creating enabling environment for the economic well being of the Muslims; and providing a conducive environment for the Muslims whereby they could practice their religion without coercive interference by the people of other religions. Pakistan movement was democratic in genesis and peaceful in character. There were no incidents of violence during the seven years of formal running of Pakistan movement (1940-47). Transfer of power was envisaged to be a smooth affair whereby the two independent dominions were to live in a peaceful good neighbourly manner.

Government of British India was responsible for smooth implementation of partition plan. However, it could not gauge the underlying religious polarization, it did not envisage mass movement of people between the new countries nor did it foresaw the violence associated with the forced eviction of the people in such a large number, hence preparations at the state level (British India) to handle the fallout were almost non-existent. There have not been conclusive academic inquires as to whether it was an intelligence failure or deliberate complacency which resulted into the public pain and agony.  Probably, it was a combination of the two.

Demarcation of the border was erratic by design; Chairman of the boundary commission was bribed to act that way. Guiding principles for accession of princely state were violated with impunity. Resource distribution was rather tilted in favour of India and whatever was allocated to Pakistan, its release was hindered. It was all a well thought out deliberate plan to create such conditions that a situation of paralysis be created whereby the newly formed state should seek a re-merger with Bharat. What a gross miscalculation of the will and tenacity of the people of Pakistan it was. Even today an engineered and well paid campaign is in place to portray Pakistan as a failed state that could fall apart any moment.

Right from the beginning, water weapon was employed to ruin the predominantly agrarian economy. The bid was thwarted by World Bank underwritten Indus basin Water Treaty (IWT) that gives exclusive usage rights over three eastern rivers to India and three western rivers to Pakistan. This is a unique treaty, prudently designed to bypass the perpetual interstate animosty between Pakistan and India. The principle of lower and upper riparian are not applicable. It grants exclusive usage rights with certain exceptions. These days a campaign is on by India to undermine the spirit of IWT by talking about upper riparian claims.

Physical vulnerability of Pakistan due to separation of over 1000 miles was duly exploited by India. And finally direct military invitation was done in the favour of separatist elements. This resulted in dismemberment of the country and creation of Bangladesh. This followed by ‘Peaceful Nuclear Explosion’ of 1974 with the objective to perpetually freeze the strategic status quo. One generation of Pakistanis virtually ate grass and Pakistan was able to match each Indian Nuclear explosion in kind on May 28, 1998. Even today Pakistan’s nuclear capability is rallying point for public support and this day is celebrated with nation-wide joy as Yum-e-Takbeer each year. Pakistan is facing a dire situation on its western borders since 1979 due to foreign occupation of Afghanistan, first by the erstwhile Soviet Union and now by America led coalition forces. During these difficult years, Pakistan has kept the larger interests of the region and has stood by the people of Afghanistan in their struggle for evicting the occupation forces. During both these stints of foreign occupation of Afghanistan, India created distractions by mass deployment of its forces on Pakistan’s borders on the behest of extra regional powers. Moreover, during these trying times, no effort has been spared to create unrest in various parts of Pakistan through influence paddling and encouraging the disgruntled lot. Ethno-sectarian fault lines are routinely exploited by providing platforms to anti-Pakistan entities and personnel to enhance their outreach.

Under these testing times, Pakistani people have displayed remarkable resilience to survive and compete with a neighbour from whom it sought separation in 1947. By any standard it is not a mean achievement. However, by virtue of constantly surviving in tense environment, state and society has skipped a couple of things, resulting in lopsided attitudes by some segments of the society.

Due to resource constraint, state slowly abdicated its social security, disaster management and education related duties, whereby these obligations were voluntarily picked up by ethno-sectarian non-state entities. Initially, it was done in good faith and no malice was intended. However, gradually, these entities realised the power of goodwill earned by them through public service and embarked upon political agenda which is at times contrary to the state and government’s view point. Finally, a stage came when some of these entities also embarked upon trans-national agenda and took upon themselves the ultimate responsibility of the state—to wage war against own state and against other states under the garb of Jiahd.

This recently emerged fault line has promptly been picked up by the foreign detractors of the country to mislead the youth and turn its anger triggered energies against own country. This phenomenon manifests itself into terrorist activities on almost daily basis. These groups have been hired by various regional and extra regional actors who want to further their respective political agendas.

Radicalization is virulent; it spreads fast, like wildfire. De-radicalization is a slow and painstaking process, akin to one step forward and two backwards.  It is tedious yet doable.  It requires political will, perseverance and a composite state-societal effort. In Swat area very meaningful de-radicalization programme has been put in place; the results have been encouraging. This effort must go on and become self sustainable. Taking care of the de-radicalized persons is a lifelong commitment. Their rehabilitation calls for management of a robust social security arrangement. Pakistan’s policy on countering terrorism has remained focused on 3-Ds approach of Deterrence, Development and Dialogue.  Deterrence has been shaky; it probably broke down as many times as it held the sway. Some of the contested areas have exchanged occupation many a times between the militants and the security forces. Dialogue was used by the militants as a tool to regain time to regroup. Development remained below par because the writ of law enforcing agency was never strong enough and long enough to provide enabling environment for carrying out sustainable development activity.  Realizing the shortfall of its 3-D policy, the new government of Pakistan is contemplating a rehash of the entire national security policy. As a part of that, an anti-terrorism strategy is also under consideration by the government. The proposed 4Ts strategy envisages tracing of the elements, trailing coordination among the intelligence agencies, tackling the extremists or terrorists by taking action and seeking conviction, as well as transforming of roles of religious scholars, mosques and seminaries in line with true teachings of Islam.

There is a need to come out of naiveties of Ds and Ts and move forward to formulate a comprehensive national policy, strategy and plans of action. Pakistan’s national de-radicalization policy should be home grown and owned by the effected societies. Some of the moorings to peg the national de-radicalization policy are: To develop a counter-narrative to challenge the ideological base of radical thought process; To create enabling environment to discourage feeling of deprivation through economic incentives, fair play and taking care of socio-cultural sensitivities; To undo disenfranchisement through bold political reforms in the tribal areas; Provide authentic religious education to the people and enable them to judge the reality themselves rather being misguided by the exploiters; Improve governance through effective structures and efficient bureaucracy; Institute sustainable social security network; Ensure availability of jobs for the youth. Investment in these fields may appear resource squeezing; yet it would be more economical than combating terrorism.Today is indeed a day for self reflection, to gauge where did we go wrong to end up in such an unenviable situation.  Reversal is difficult but not impossible. Political will is the starting point; we have this commodity in abundance. What we need is its correct channelization.n

(Writer is a freelance columnist. Email: kiqbal1234 @yahoo.com.com)