Come to think of it, all provinces have overtime, become problem areas in Pakistan. Much has been said about the breakdown of law and order and for the rise of separatism and subversion in Balochistan. Every now and then new initiatives are announced to manage the crisis there. Little, however, changes. The present provincial government appears to have made some headway although chances of success are uncertain.

Take Sindh and especially Pakistan’s largest metropolitan city Karachi where all kinds of ills and evils keep making the lives of the people, especially the poor masses, miserable. There have been earlier operations in Karachi, the last apparently successful having happened way back in 1992.It didn’t take long afterwards to see the old conditions returning with vengeance. Just one example of the aftermath of police section taken earlier was the identification and killing of about one hundred police officials who had actively participated in the operation. Karachites have suffered enormously, over the years, in terms of killings, extortions, dacoities and loss of property. The root cause of these tragic happenings has been attributed by our superior courts to mafias and militant wings of the political parties in the province. The recent most operation undertaken by Rangers along with the police appears to be doing a thorough job of apprehending the miscreants hired killers and mischief makers. The operation is not only aimed at counter-terrorism activities but also rooting for sources and means of corruption. Action on the part of Rangers which started their onerous task in Karachi and Sindh at the bidding of Sindh government is running into difficulties because of sharp reactions of MQM and PPP.

Behind this operation stands the steadfast resolve of General Raheel Sharif, Chief of the Pakistan Army to exterminate terrorism and terrorism-sponsoring finances. Voices havebeen raised by both Altaf Hussain and Asif Ali Zardari. Altaf having been embroiled in cases pertaining to murder and illegally received money has of late, made highly objectionable speeches focusing on the very existence of the country and the Pakistan Army.A High Court has banned the telecasting of his addresses aimed at audiences in Pakistan. The party has since resigned en mass from membership of the National Assembly. And otherwise too, has been threatening to launch a movement against the government. PPP’s reaction too has been strident and provocative. They earlier were attacking the army only. Now they haveturned their guns on the PLM-N government. They are practically withdrawn their cooperation with the government and are out along with some other political groupsto pull it down.

Much need not be said about KPK where in the FATA a full-blast military operation has been going on for two years, against the Pakistani Taliban and their associates.A lot has been achieved at considerable cost.At the same time there has been series of blow-back suicide bombings all over the country. Almost everyday there is news of a few military personnel killed by militants and a dozen or so Taliban terrorists eliminated. A heavy cost of the operation has been in the shape of hundreds of thousands internally displaced persons from Waziristan and other agencies. There have yet to be settled back in their homes or other places. Billions of rupees will be required to rebuild their homes and business places. While certainly the Zarb-e-Azb operation has its rationale and justification, it is time to undertake a thorough review of the plus and minus of this grand initiative. If the blowback is going to continue at various places, it is imperative that simultaneously ways and means be found to engage the vast majority of the residents of Fata. Ultimately it is the making an agreement based on talks that will finally settle the issues. As Ayaz Wazir, an enlightened tribal luminary keeps reminding us, a durable settlement can only take place when the people of the area are involved and given their right to manage their affairs.

Much is being said to start an operation in the Punjab against the extremist groups and the corrupt elements. Recently Zardari and Bilawal have been accusing the PML-N government of its failure to take up or follow up corruption cases against the PML-N members and friends. Both Nawaz and Shahbaz should take the point made by the opposition and ensure at due justice is done to guilty PML-N office holders and member of the party.

All right thinking Pakistanis would like the present civil and military drive to finally defeat terrorism and dismantle its infrastructure in all parts of the country.

As for corruption, the responsibility lies with the civilian government and the courts. If Nawaz Sharif is totally sincere in his declared resolve, he should lose no time to go the whole-hog in grappling with the challenge. It will be an uphill task. He may at times need the help of the military to ensure success.

Overarching the issues of terrorism and corruption is the dogged problem of civil military relations in Pakistan. Ideally in democracy which rests on the power of the people, the top civilian institutions including the Parliament must remain supreme as against unelected and appointed agencies.Court has the definite right of interpretation of the Constitutional provisions, the supremacy of the Parliament has to remain unquestioned.

The reality in Pakistan, however, presents a different picture. The army having had a direct control of the country’s affairs for more or less half of the history of Pakistan,what has added to the vulnerability of the civilian governments has been their consistently failing to perform their duties efficiently and honestly. This poor performance has lowered their political legitimacy and provided space and opportunity to ambitious generals to take over the reins of the country. It is therefore sheer wishful thinking that the military would suddenly detach itself from power and influence it enjoys in certain areas of its concerns and interests. The only way to speedup army’s return to its purely constitutional obligations is a marked and consistent improvement in good governance yielding visible wholesome results with particular reference to the plight of the poor and credible management of the economy.

n The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and a freelance political and international relations analyst.