Old wine, new bottle

Old wine, new bottle

Successive governments have been harping on the tune of formulating national security policy but to no avail. Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on National Security and Strategic Planning Moeed Yousaf expressed the same rhetoric, while speaking at a session Defining National Security at the Afkar-i-Taza Think Fist at Alhamra Hall on Sunday. He said that a coherent national security policy will be in place soon with inclusive economic diplomacy. Dwelling on the broad parameters of national security policy, that country is going to have, Moeed Yousaf said that it will encompass not only components of providing protection of life to the people but also ingredients of providing better education, health facilities, foreign policy orientation and response options to climate change.

Hitherto people have been deluded into believing that government is serious about the formulation and subsequent implementation of a comprehensive national security policy. But ground realities are portraying utterly different picture. Hence people may be justified to believe that loud talk of National Security Advisor at Think Fist forum is nothing but a knee-jerk reaction to the recent two incidents of terrorism in one week in Quetta.

There has been no progress on the implementation of some very important points of National Action Plan which include strengthening of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA); completely dismantling network of terrorist groups; revamping criminal justice system; dealing firmly with sectarian outfits; and seminaries’ reforms and their registration.

The Prime Minister had chaired a meeting to review the performance of NACTA in September last year and underscored the need to make it a truly proactive organisation in terms of counterterrorism infrastructure and regular review of its functions. But paltry budgetary allocations for NACTA and not establishing the conceived joint intelligence directorate hinder the performance of its mandated role in combating terrorism.

Reforming justice system is still out of the priorities of the present government like the previous governments. Former Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had to mention this bitter fact in his address at a national conference in April last year on Expeditious Judicial Initiative: Roadmap to Criminal Justice Reforms.’ He had specifically referred to the lacunae in the Anti-Terrorist Act and lack of inaction by the government on the 70 reports submitted by Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan to the parliament and law ministry about amending certain laws of criminal jurisprudence. He had painfully noted that justice system was ‘unfortunately’ not among government priorities. There is no visible progress on dismantling the network of terrorist groups and curbing the activities of sectarian outfits. Seminaries registration process is going on a snail pace and reforms are nowhere in sight.

Judicial Commission report on the terrorists attack on Civil Hospital Quetta in 2016 contains valuable guidelines for framing national security policy. The report contains pertinent observations about the lack of proper monitoring along Pak-Afghan border, Government’s reluctance to take action against proscribed organisations, effective enforcement of the Ant- Terrorism law, refining and restructuring National Action Plan.

The current state of education and health is far from satisfactory. Government’s spending is confined to school education alone, completely abandoning the higher education. The unaffordable tuition fee of BS, M.Phil and PhD programmes, deficiency of research environment, books topnotch research are the stumbling blocks hindering the acquisition of quality education by the talented students. Healthcare system is plagued by glaring inefficiencies. The non-availability of medicines for emergency treatment of patients, vaccines and injection for the treatment snake and dog bite is daily phenomenon. What the advisor on National Security said in his talk at Think Fist was no doubt a fine intellectual discourse and it remains to be seen how much seriousness shall be shown by the government to translate it into reality on ground.

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