On Wednesday, the government unveiled its most recent shift in the national security policy. By declaring a tactically offensive strategy for the seemingly endless terrorism imbroglio we find ourselves knee deep in, the government assured the listeners in the assembly that there was no confusion in the adopted approach and that everyone was on the same page when it came to taking down extremist miscreants. The components of the security policy, stated by Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, would consist of a tri-dimensional method: Secrecy, strategy and operation. Initially the incumbent ministry relied on a mode that hinged more on a rather weak defense but after this assembly session, the policy design seems well located in offence mode. Militants will be aggressively searched and destroyed, in other words.
The NACTA will be made a premier counter-terrorism authority while a Joint Intelligence Directorate will be maintained for conducive coordination among intelligence agencies. The confidential segment of the policy falls under executive control while the strategical unit will dedicate itself to eradicating militants from their hideouts – whether they lead an assault or not, is no longer part of the equation. That said, a fundamental defect in the policy still remains embedded; that of simultaneously negotiating with and attacking radicalized factions (a dangerous game when one brings an Islamist-sympathetic military into the equation also). It simply does not work, and one does not require an elaborate assembly to understand this. A cursory glance at the data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal should be enough to reveal who is at disadvantage here: 241 civilians and 86 security force personnel have been killed in various militant-related attacks in the very first month of 2014 alone. Obviously, these precious peace talks are amounting to virtually nothing.
The nascent decision for this security policy comes after a series of grisly episodes of death and destruction that could have been prevented if our authorities had shown more pro-activity in their judgment. Whether it was the brutal killings of the Frontier Corps members by the Taliban or the triple bomb blasts on a public cinema in Peshawar, the relentless attacks on the harmless Hazara community or the incineration of a place of worship for Christians, the fact of the matter is that the policy shift has arrived shamelessly late. Even then – much to a sensible citizen’s chagrin – the Premier claimed that the triple-pronged stratagem was “not final yet.” How much violence is enough violence to seal this deal?