The question why the curse of terrorism refuses to go away from Pakistan has a profound answer in the report of commission on the Quetta carnage set up by Supreme Court.
Constituted a month after a suicide-bomber killed 74 people, mostly lawyers, at a hospital on August 8 the Justice Qazi Faez Isa-led commission has sent its report to the apex court.
And, among its findings the most disturbing is its conclusion that there is a “breakdown in the implementation of law and order, which has led to rules being repeatedly violated without consequences”. Although these exist a slew of laws to deal with terrorists, the absence of application and implementation of these laws gives birth to a “culture of nepotism”. Under a sharper focus of the report is the Ministry of Interior where the minister “displayed little sense of ministerial responsibility”.
The commission looks askance at the role of interior minister who did not lose the opportunity of receiving the heads of three proscribed organisations, within Islamabad’s Red Zone but he failed to activate a seemingly dormant Nacta. And to this report adds if the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) is applicable to terrorists it is also “equally applicable to public functionaries and they should not be cavorting with proclaimed members of banned organisations”. What a dilemma that it was the commission which helped identify the suicide- bomber, and not the local police. The commission is also surprised that as for the public knowledge the findings of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are not reachable, unlike CIA’s, FBI’s and other known international intelligence-gathering outfits’ which provide contact details on their publicly viewable websites.
On the other hand, the government’s credibility was undermined by the Chief Minister of Baluchistan and others under him when they dished out “irresponsible statements … fabricated leads … disrupting the investigation and creating false expectations”.
According to the commission, the solution to the menace of terrorism and extremism is straightforward: “Abide by the laws” that are already there in the field. “It is an abomination to have laws, and not enforce them”. However, the villain of the piece in anti-terrorism fiasco is laconic implementation of the National Action Plan. As envisaged by the NAP all educational institutions including religious seminaries should be registered, arrivals and departures from Pakistan should be monitored, all the people should have requisite documents and be photographed and thumb-impressed and the customs authorities must ensure that contrabands are not brought in the country. At the same time, the Nacta must be activated and public space must be denied to proscribed entities.
The commission also recommended streamlining of investigation tools. Of course the report of the commission is a damning indictment of the government. But if the goal is to rid the country of curses of terrorism and extremism then this bitter pill has to be swallowed. Hopefully in the light of recommendations made by the commission the Supreme Court would call upon the government to revisit its position on the National Action Plan – which no doubt is quite lethargic if not dubious – and revamp it with a view to making it result-oriented.