Under the Microscope

The New York Times reported yesterday that US officials are asking Pakistan to provide more data on travelers. While the government is resisting this request, the attack on Ahmadis last week followed by yesterday’s attack on Jinnah Hospital in Lahore are a reminder that the terrorists in our midst have placed us under the microscope, and we no longer have the luxury of ignoring our problems.

According to the New York Times article, the American government is,

“pressing for information on Pakistanis who fly to other countries, to feed into databases that can detect patterns used by terrorists, their financiers, logisticians and others who support them, the officials said.”

Obviously, this creates great privacy concerns for innocent citizens who are merely going about their regular lives. Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani has been pushing back on this issue, telling the New York Times that this is not how you treate an ally.

“Terrorists are enemies of both Pakistan and the United States, who need to discuss how to enhance cooperation and that is what we are doing,” Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, said in a text message on Sunday. “Pressuring an ally is not the way forward, and both sides understand that.”

To understand the Americans mindset, though, it appears that they are not asking us to ‘do more’ but saying, ‘if you can’t track the terrorists – for whatever reason – we will do it for you.’ As frustrating as this is, we actually do have a problem with our system of collecting intelligence on militants and seeing them brought to justice.

Please read Vidya Rana’s excellent article in Daily Times. In the article, it is pointed out that there is a failure in the system by which we track, arrest, and prosecute militants.

No one knows who is primarily responsible for the internal security of a front-line country against war on terror as an insignificant prosecution rate of hardened terrorists, largely due to the absence of a joint strategy by police and legal departments, has become a worrying factor for those being targeted with regular intervals.

While terrorists continue to fight on both psychological and physical fronts, our law enforcers are heavily relying on a reactive mode of physical fighting only, thus, leaving the psychological front unguarded.

Not only this, the traditional buck-passing seems to have taken roots among various agencies entrusted with ensuring internal security as one hardly finds any Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for arresting, investigating, and finally producing a terrorist-suspect in the court of law.

The terrorists are fighting with a well thought-out strategy to implement the nefarious agenda of destabilizing the state and instilling fear in the minds of citizens in the length and breadth of Pakistan. At the end of the day, they get out with smiling faces by defeating the prosecution.

Our Ambassadors overseas can continue to resist requests to turn over more information about our fellow citizens, as well they should. This is too wide a net to cast for such a small group of miscreants. But the only way that we will finally stop these requests from happening in the first place is if we fix the broken system of tracking and bringing to justice militants. This should be done, of course, for our own benefit. For it is not until we correct this broken system that lets militants go free that we will stop seeing our fellow citizens brutally murdered while they pray. But it is also true that until we do this, we will remain under the microscope.

 

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