The need of the hour: Honesty

After a year of celebratory messages announcing that terrorism was defeated, a new report provides a breath of fresh air for those who are more interested in actually solving the nation’s problems rather than . According to a new report, military and civilian leaders including the Prime Minister and Chief of Army Stafff met and admitted that things are not going as well as PR statements have led some to believe.

Some of the elements of NAP that have long been identified as poor performing include action against terror financing; foreign funding of seminaries; proscribed organisations and sectarian groups; hate speeches; and madressah reforms. The provincial mechanism for civil-military coordination on security issues too has been experiencing difficulties.

Shortly after the meeting, ISPR issued a press release criticising government for failing to uphold its end in the fight against terrorist. Many analysts have noted that this is once again the military pointing fingers at civilians all while demanding a greater role in governance themselves. Even Ansar Abbasi who I rarely agree with has seen such behaviour as inappropriate on the party of the military which constitutionally serves under the civilian government.

However I want to ask another question which is, if it is okay for the military to question the effectiveness of civilian government, why isn’t it appropriate for civilians to question the effectiveness of the military?

Let us take a look at just one point as an example. Army has been carrying out targeted operations against MQM since almost 9 months. Now operations against PPP have begun also. Intelligence agencies have been turning over ever rock looking for any evidence of RAW funding and other connections with political parties. While this is happening, terrorist attacks continue. Daily attacks were carried out that killed dozens of innocents during Muharram. Where was Army? Where was ISI? But the biggest question should be, why is Army pointing fingers at government when it has its own failures to contend with? If “provincial mechanism for civil-military coordination on security issues too has been experiencing difficulties”, is the fault of the civilians only?

These are questions no one is willing to ask. It is a point that no one is willing to make and for good reason. Making such a point carries huge risks. Criticising government is easy. The only thing that will happen is you will be celebrated as a patriot. But point out the same failures in Army – corruption, extremist ties, target killing, failure to stop terrorist attacks…these will have you quickly branded as a traitor.

Things are not going as well as the script writers would like us to believe. The proof is right before us if anyone wants to look for themselves, but first you have to take off your ISPR issued sunglasses. The need of the hour is not just honesty, but honesty without selectivity. Honesty that is willing to give a fair but critical assessment of institutions that hold more power but have almost no transparent oversight. Until that happens, expect more disappointment to come.

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