We have two prior examples to judge the consequences of military action against political parties, when our governments failed to address post military operation administrative demands, and Pakistan suffered. In East Pakistan, by July 1971, the military had regained control over the entire territory, but the government failed to establish administrative control, which was necessary for initiating the political process and that led to the dismemberment of Pakistan. In 1975, Prime Minister Bhutto put a ban on National Awami Party under article 17(2), which led to his downfall and fall of democracy.
The present military action against Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was precipitated because of various factors. The inside element provided information to intelligence; the federal and provincial governments gave approval for military action, and the political parties maintained a discrete silence of approval. And therefore, now, it is the collective responsibility of all concerned that a policy be evolved to control and manage post operation consequences with great care and due diligence. There are some very important issues which need to be addressed on priority.
The clean-up of MQM is essential, with the help of the government and the MQM leadership itself, through due process of law. Both the perpetrators of the crime and the abettors must be taken to task. Any attempt to break up the party will be disastrous. The unity and integrity of MQM must be maintained, and the question of leadership at various levels must be dealt with by the party itself. I personally believe that the Pakistan People’s Party, under Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, can play a very positive role for political peace and stability in Sindh by keeping the MQM in the political mainstream. He can do it, and he knows it.
Our armed forces’ hands are full. They cannot even join the Saudi Coalition of four countries, to act against Daesh, in Syria and Iraq. While the Armed Forces are grappling with the problem in Waziristan and Karachi, there lies a heavy burden of responsibility on Parliament to evolve a strategy for extending government’s administrative control over the territories of Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Waziristan and Baluchistan, so that the writ of the government is fully established, as the most essential step towards national integration. Political expediency must give way to democratic ethos, that is, Parliament must develop “the strategy and the action plan for change”. The burden of responsibility lies with the government itself, which must shun the notion of completing the five year tenure in office.
No doubt, the government has undertaken some mega projects, such as Gawadar-Kashgar economic corridor; power generation of over 7500 x MW, with about a trillion dollar investment; motorways and metro mass transit projects; yet the nation wants change. This situation is somewhat similar to that of the Field Marshall Ayub Khan era, when the mega projects and developments were even bigger and larger than present government achievements. Yet, peoples’ demand for change turned into chaos, because the military leadership could not find the political answer to the political demand for change.
Our present lawmakers must therefore remember, that, political disorder cannot be corrected through the use of military means which constitutes the “hard power of the state”. This hard power, invariably had been able to regain control over the territories of Pakistan on several occasions, but where the state has failed, it was the application of “soft power”, that is, the establishment of “administrative and political control” over the territories, to fully establish the writ of the government. Now, the moment of reckoning has come, challenging the present democratic order to rise to the occasion and deliver, and if it dithers, all will fall.
The ‘dharna’ agitation launched by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri did mobilize public opinion for change, but could not reach a culmination point, because it was based on the wrong premise of the intervention of non-political forces for deliverance. The dharna agitation therefore is no longer relevant because the army needs a peaceful environment to actualize the realization of Zarb-e-Azab’s objectives, while the Rangers are engaged with the difficult task of eradicating extremism sponsored by some elements of a political party. Therefore the struggle for change has to be carried out by means, other than the dharna. The means are many which can be adopted, remaining within the limits of the law of the country and the norms of democracy. For the success of a military operation, we have been taught, that “the maneuver must be single in concept, launched by a combination of forces, capable of completing the operational cycle of battle of breakthrough, maneuver, followed by another battle and exploitation, towards the final objective.”
The movement for change therefore has to be launched, based on a every definite strategy, and in harmony with the national political surge, without disturbing the present political order, because the regional security environment is dangerously perilous. The countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya are breaking-up from within, due to machinations of external forces and internal intrigues. And the responsibility for change in Pakistan therefore is not that of the opposition alone, but that of the entire political order, be it the government, the institutions and the broad masses. It has to be total in all its dimensions, and single in conception, like a classic military maneuver.