Two recent events are of great concern. The first related to the information displayed before General Raheel Sharif on the progress of counter terrorism operations. It revealed statistics including shocking information on armed political groups belonging to PPPP and MQM.

This is a scary scenario because both parties are respectively the most popular in Sindh and Karachi. Though a common man in interior Sindh may not understand the implications, the high literacy and therefore political awareness in Karachi leads to a different perception.

Karachi’s position as a melting pot of diverse ethnic groups, armed militants organizations, proximity to Balochistan and a playing field of hostile intelligence agencies pose extra ordinary challenges. All this makes a kaleidoscope of intertwined interests and implications that shall put firewalls before the National Action Plan (NAP). The writ of the state has to assert not only in Karachi but also Punjab.

The second relates to the press conference by the Interior Minister Chaudary Nisar Ali Khan that used the Sindh situation to chastise Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif the Chief Minister of Punjab. It was also an admission that too little had been achieved through the NAP despite a National Internal Security Policy (NISP) being in place. He was explicit in declaring Zarb-e-Azb as a stand-alone operation that began much before NAP was enacted. Hence if we exclude the Military successes from NAP, what remains is nothingness and this is what spelled Chaudary Nisar’s frustrations. His conclusions though unsaid pointed towards Karachi and Punjab.

The two events point starkly at the lack of political will to carry forward the agenda of NAP. The missing links are many. For the Army it is lack of supporting initiatives by the government and for the interior ministry, failure to gel NISP with NAP. Both are correct but only partially.

As a contrarian view, the missing links are much deeper and obscure cohesive policy directives, attributable to innocent ignorance, lack of political will, political greed, loss of political mileage and most dangerously; idiosyncrasies that override national interests. The sum total is the absence of national character and morale crucial to creating a national resolve in face of dire threats across the entire spectrum of kinetic to non-kinetic challenges. Ominously, many non-kinetic challenges are creation of the government through bad socio-economic policies. It is like stamping a mouse when there is a tiger at the door.

National character and morale is crucial to nation building. Just to reassert Hans J. Morgenthau, “National Power rises from a relatively stable platform of geography through various gradations to the fleeting opportunities of national character and morale”.  Though Pakistan has potential in geography, untapped resources, strong armed forces and a nuclear capability, the aggregate through various gradations is impeded through the idiosyncratic nature of political leadership, its lack of imagination cum resolve and resignation of the social capital of the country to disruptive dynamics. This actually weakens Pakistan to pursue any policy. Even if the prime minister has a wish list of mutually dependent relations with India, the balance will be elusive till such time Pakistan gears to the true potential to give and barter.

Given the development indices, this is a far cry from where things stand. Though the potential exists, the priority towards Nation Building through very strong fast track socio-economic reforms is missing. As long as this apathy and self-interest prevails, Pakistan will be neither there nor here. To be counted, Pakistan will have to rise through various grades to squarely ward off the challenges it faces. This warrants a very strong mix of a proactive counter terrorism policy and reformed criminal justice, matched by socio-economic initiatives to regain many spaces Pakistan has ceded.

Post 9/11, Pakistan was confronted with a new form of threat belatedly realised as our threat. Since 1973, Pakistan formulated a policy around external non state actors to accrue foreign policy advantages. By 1979, these actors got involved in geopolitics leading to Afghan War. Pakistan is the only country that imported all typologies of militancy to please global agendas in chagrin to its own security. This provided space to other countries to interfere in Pakistan’s affairs through proxies. An overt nuclear policy in 1998 was the time Pakistan should have permanently shed off this yoke to appear as a responsible nuclear power. It did not and got sucked into a conflict that is now over fifteen years old. Nuclear capability obscured by lawlessness, bad governance and bad democracy make Pakistan vulnerable to all forms of threat.

“Post 9/11, there was a strong view in Pakistan’s younger defence establishment to affect a paradigm shift and rid Pakistan of all militant outfits. The need for fast track economic development was the key to Pakistan’s progress. Much that Pakistan tried to do was lost within the international paradigm and a mind-set within Pakistan’s senior military general staff. Pakistan’s efforts met a major setback with orchestration of an attack on the Indian Parliament. It was a ‘hide and seek’ of the good, the bad and ugly juxtaposing already existing complications on the war on terror. More than a decade later, the generation of young general staff came of age. The makings of the paradigm shift fell on the shoulders of General Raheel Sharif the COAS of Pakistan Army who in 2002 was a young brigadier” (The Nation: Raheel Sharif Paradigm, November 22, 2014).

So while the military has tried in earnest to affect a major shift in policy, the civil establishment does not appear to do likewise. Their own ideas, secondary political compulsions and external linkages blind them to the obvious. This attitude is amply reflected in the two events of the past few days indicating that the government rather than claiming space is ceding it.

NAP built around a paradigm of Criminal Justice is slow moving by its nature. It is not economical either. World over, any counter terrorism policy is an amalgam of military and intelligence initiatives supported by legal reforms. The Homeland Security Policy of USA and similar ones in UK and France are cases in point. France, the cradle of democracy imposed an emergency after Paris suicide bombings. The argument that a force structure led policy is cost prohibitive is shallow. The country is losing far more economically through bad governance and corruption than the expenses of an initiative led proactive counter terrorism policy. Between the lines, Chaudary Nisar has exposed the cracks and minced no words about the state of affairs.

As for Raheel Sharif’s Paradigm, pro-activism shall be pursued relentlessly till the change of guards takes place.