PM firm about terror-free Pakistan

Courtesy: S Rahman

Pakistan of today is an exception to the rule in the area of inter-institution understanding as all the pivotal pillars of the state stand in complete harmony with one another, at present, courtesy the wise and dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif.

By all international standards, it is an exception since such a harmony is a rarity even in the most advanced democracies of the world including India and the United States. Contrary to the common perception, even these two democratically advanced countries have, at times, faced friction — if not confrontation or extreme conflict — among their national institutions. Many instances with this particular reference can be quoted but that is not the main theme of this write-up.

Back in the country, there have been inter-institution tensions during the last so many years but now, the country has been put on a track of institutional and structural stability that means country’s stability. It is usually described as a one-page situation. If that term is to be relied upon, then we can say it with surety that Mian Nawaz Sharif’s government has genuinely attained the one-page ideal, at least in the crucial areas of governance, security and public service.

A big demonstration of this inter-institution harmony was witnessed few days back in the form of unanimous decisions taken at the federal level with the participation of heads of security apparatus and top functionaries of the civilian government.

The high profile meeting, under the guidelines given quite intelligently and firmly by the prime minister, has been a big success. Success in the sense that it has removed all the stumbling blocks that had continued to exist in the past on account of sharp differences of opinion among institutions on different issues especially the most compelling issue of national security.

Knowledgeable analysts rather believe that, in the past, national security issues had assumed alarming proportions and became formidable and unmanageable only and only because of these sharp differences among the institutional heads and their next in hierarchy. No more discord, says the PM’s vision and his firm stand on wiping out terrorism and extremism from the country. And PM means what he says. His firm tone with which he has declared a war to protect the innocent women, children and citizens of Pakistan, is a source of relief for the terrorized masses.

Even in the recently held federal cabinet meeting on security, local bodies and other important issues, it was decided, in the same breath, to do away with the lacunae in the criminal justice system or plainly speaking in our systems of policing and crime-handling. These lacunae were there but no government was willing to take them up despite prodding by the armed forces to remove these impediments that were leading to the strengthening and emboldening of the militarized insurgents and desperados conducting their inhuman activities with complete freedom and impunity. The good news now is that, after having achieved all-sector harmony the government has started working on identifying and then doing away with legal loopholes that was never done with this much of commitment and perseverance in the past, in general, and during the last five years in particular.

Much more encouraging is the federal cabinet’s resolve to reinforce the essential most element of deterrence in the law of the land meaning thereby in the anti-terrorism laws. Deterrence, according to world-renowned jurists and legal experts, is the soul of penal codes all over the world as it has, to date, proved to be the most effective tool of prevention of criminal activities, terrorism being no exception.

In the federal cabinet meeting, amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Bill have been approved, sanctioning more powers for Rangers in their endeavour to restore law and order in Karachi.The amendments will allow the security forces to use force to prevent a terrorist act, with omission of the phrase ‘when fired upon’ and target killers, extortionists and kidnappers will also be treated as terrorists.

Additionally, the armed forces or civil armed forces will be authorized to detain a person involved in such offences for three months for investigations.The revised draft of the Bill will now be presented before the parliament for approval.

Well-informed circles say that prime minister has issued specific instructions to make the anti-terror laws fully effective by way of removal of all the bottlenecks and loopholes. He is particularly worried over the quick release of terrorists including serial killers as their trials in courts usually end up in their exoneration in more than 80/90 per cent of the cases. And in this area, PM Sharif has never felt any restraints or fear in expressing his innermost convictions on this issue.

Main attention, in this context, is being given to the strengthening and streamlining of the departments of prosecution, investigation and protection of witnesses and judges. In that regard, the measures, as seriously contemplated by the cabinet, include “using screens to shield witnesses, judges and prosecutors from public view; trial in jail premises or through video link; investigation and trial in another province and ensuring no access to mobile phones for prisoners in jail.” These measures will come into effect shortly as the prime minister has reportedly directed the functionaries concerned to expedite the matter without delay.

During the cabinet meeting, the prime minister also expressed satisfaction over the ongoing targeted action in Karachi, remarking that the common man was satisfied with the operation and a positive outcome was guaranteed.

And the main factor that has helped promote greater understanding among the institutions is the realistic approach of Sharif government as it has given equal, rather greater attention to the input from security agencies especially the armed forces and their intelligence wings.