Do we have a new Nawaz Sharif? If he can keep up the pace he managed to achieve during the last few days, chances are that the answer to the question may well be in the affirmative. If, however, he reverts to his usual happy-go-lucky self when the current momentum begins to peter out, his ratings will fall steeply.

Despite considerable criticism voiced by his detractors accusing him of not moving ahead with the required decisions and action as the Chief Executive and roping in other political parties and their leaders, the fact remains that as Prime Minister , he has done a remarkable job of not only rushing to Peshawar but holding two marathon meetings and as resolved, coming up with a National Plan of Action. It was not an easy job securing consensus on proposed measures about some of which, quite a few parties had (and still have) serious reservations. Mention in particular he made of the setting up of special trial courts (read military courts) for two years. To realize the sweep of the steps to be undertaken, it is in order to list the elements of the plan:

1-     Execution of convicted terrorists will continue

2-     Establishment of special trial courts for two years for speedy trial of terror suspects

3-     A commitment to ensure that no armed militias are allowed to function in the country

4-     Strengthening and activation of NACTA

5-     Countering hate speech and extremist material

6-     Choking financing for terrorists and terrorist organisations

7-     Ensuring against re-emergence of proscribed organisations

8-     Establishing and deploying a dedicated counter-terrorism force

9-     Taking effective steps against religious persecution

10-     Registration and regulation of madrassas

11-     Ban on glorification of terrorism and terrorist organisations through print and electronic media

12-     Administrative and development reforms in Fata with immediate focus on return of IDPs

13-     Dismantling communication networks of terrorist organisations

14-     Tangible measures against abuse of internet and social media for terrorism

15-     Zero tolerance for militancy in Punjab

16-     Taking the ongoing operation in Karachi to its logical conclusion

17-     Empowering Balochistan government for political reconciliation with complete ownership by all stakeholders

18-     Dealing firmly with sectarian terrorists

19-     Formulation of a comprehensive policy to deal with the issue of Afghan refugees, beginning with registration of all unregistered illegal refugees

20-     Revamping and reforming the criminal justice system, to strengthen counter-terrorism departments including granting of powers to the provincial CIDs to intercept terrorist communications.

Almost all of these tasks have to be taken up by the civil administration, both the central and provincial governments. And all of these have complex dimensions requiring a lot of planning, some new legislation and of course, speedy implementation. Looking at the past performance of the government, one is not sure if the job will be done at the desired speed, satisfactorily. Just think of the national security policy announced about a year ago.

Although the plan has been described as a short-term one, many of the tasks will require a lot of consultations and reconciliation of differences of opinion and approach. It will be advisable to go immediately for doable chores. This is necessary to keep the momentum and generate confidence in the governments’ intentions, will and capacity. For instance, the raising of the counter-terrorism forces at the centre and in the provinces should begin at once so that after quick recruitment, proper training and provision of equipment and related facilities are completed in record time. Identification of armed militias too should be done within a fortnight and steps taken to stop their functioning. There is no reason why funds cannot be found to make NECTA fully functional.

Most of the rest of the terms are bound to take time to be translated into reality. Matters relating to regulation and reform of madrassas, to implement a policy for the Afghan refugees, dealing with the festering issues of missing persons and insurgency in Balochistan and even the “taking of the ongoing operation in Karachi to its logical end” will tax imagination, will and resources available to the central and provincial governments. Talking about “administration and development reforms in FATA with immediate focus on return of IDPs” is easier said than done. This issue in fact, raises a crucial question. How ready and resourceful is the civilian administration to provide various security and administrative services when the military’s task is done? If the case of Swat and a number of agencies in FATA are kept in view the civil administration has severely fallen short of doing its part of the job after the “clearance” by military forces.

Three other ticklish jobs relate to (a) stopping the “sectarian terrorism”, considering how extensively these networks have spread in the Punjab and some other provinces (b) revamping and reforming the criminal justice system and (c) “tangible measures against abuse of internal and social media for terrorism”.

Along with the listed measures, there is a definite need to engage electronic media owners, anchors and administrators. The TV channels barring a few exceptions, have done a lot of damage by indulging and projecting sensationalism. Some of the anchors have made it a habit of bringing together hand-picked participants and making them yell at each other. A lot of hairsplitting and mud-slinging is encouraged. The government of the day is generally ridiculed and its image tarnished. At this juncture now that the government has shown efficiency and a sense of commitment, it is only fair that the initiatives being taken are supported so that the state can play its due role to achieve results. In this connection, the commendable recommendations made by the National Assembly Standing Committee on media by Marvi Memon will be taken up seriously and followed up with concrete measures.

The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and a freelance political and international relations analyst. He can be contacted at pacadepak@gmail.com