Who is responsible for Charsadda attack by Abdul Q Kundi

It seems the wave of terrorist attacks is emerging again after it subsided for some time in 2015 after the launch of operation Zarb-e-Azb. After each terror attack we engage in a predictable behavior. As usual there were statements of condemnation issued by everyone who has a social media account including myself. A debate ensued between those calling themselves liberals versus those that claim to be champions of the religion. As usual fingers were pointed at a foreign hand and demands made to stop any dialogue. As usual Prime Minister and Chief Minister were out of the country and VIPs rushed to the scene to become a hindrance rather than facilitate the operation but at least made political points. Once again provincial government blamed federal government for its failure to protect while federal government hide behind 18th amendment to blame provincial government. No official will resign or lose their jobs for failure of their duties and mediocrity will continue to be the hall mark of governance both elected and career. Talk shows will have a field day in engaging in meaningless debate again confusing the people rather than shed light on facts and help form a consensus on a line of action.

The blame squarely lies on military establishment, federal and provincial governments that have failed to protect the citizens. Instead of issuing statements of condemnation government authorities should inform people what they have done after attack on NADRA office recently to prevent further high profile attack. They should inform us how effective the formation of apex committee has been which met on January 14th to discuss the security situation. These authorities should inform us, that after the APS Peshawar attack, what changes were made in operations of law enforcement and collaboration increased among various state functionaries. They should tell us how many people lost their jobs because of failure to discharge their duties. Military establishment seems to be more concerned and interested in the international situation rather than focus more on its professional commitments of protecting the borders and improve counter terrorism intelligence especially those that involve international non-state actors. We need to be informed what improvements are made in the operation, capability and resources of police. Media outlets instead of engaging in sensationalism should dedicate resources to prepare an investigative report or a documentary about the root cause of the continued terrorism and fundamentalism. But these should be based on facts and expert views rather than sensational and based on fiction. Politicians instead of leading by example are engaged in a power tussle. Almost all of them belong to upper classes of the society and have no real appreciation or understanding of the issues faced by the citizen. They are mostly incapable to deal with these crisis of governance because none of them rose through the ranks over a long period of political struggle.

Along with short term measures suggested above we have to also prepare a long term plan to overcome the social issues that gives rise to fundamentalism and terrorism. The damage starts from our public schools on which most poor families rely to educate their children. The formative years of ages 5 to 10 is when the damage starts. Most grades 1 to 5 teachers, in public schools, are neither qualified nor equipped to engage in character building of children. This results in scares and gaps in personality that usually remains for the life time. When these children reach adulthood they experience another form of abuse that they encounter in various government offices when they need documents that are their right as citizen for instance birth certificate, driving license, national identity cards etc. This further develops frustration and anger. The treatment of police during routine traffic stops are also demeaning as well as demanding small bribes. If any of these poor citizen are engaged in a property or any other dispute the treatment of judiciary is even worst. They keep circling session courts for years without getting a verdict which further builds frustration and resort to fundamentalism. When these angry men go to mosques, for some spiritual relief, the Imam’s instead of guiding and inspiring them build up their anger against the society and instigate them to take violent action.

In other words I am suggesting that our whole society is so broken that routine life builds frustration and anger among poor citizen who are majority. On the other hand those with money and influence can get away with anything. There has been widely reported news of corruption by son of former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry; former President Asif Ali Zardari; former PML N MNA Hanif Abbasi; Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif use of office to grow business thereby engaging in conflict of interest; Khawaja Asif involvement in Nandipur Project, Aleem Khan corruption in EOBI case, Malik Riaz corruption in development schemes, Ziaullah Afridi arrest in mining corruption etc. but none of these were ever convicted. They still enjoy protocol, protection of police and live in luxuries homes. This growing class divide between citizens is another cause for frustration and fundamentalism.

The long term solution lies in developing a new social contract. The next general election should be for the installation of a parliament that should thoroughly review the 1973 constitution and make extensive amendments into it. These amendments should define the role of religion in running of the state and politics. Roles and division of responsibilities of federal and provincial governments. Our system of election which is currently based on first past the post system (fptp) to explore whether we should move towards proportional representation. We should also consider whether presidential form of government is more suitable or we can shift some responsibilities to the office of President while maintaining Prime Minister as head of government. We should improve monitoring and regulations of political parties to convert them into institutions rather than allow families to control them. It is also important to develop a better balance between legislature, judicial and executive arms of the government. The limits of military interference in politics and running of governments should also be considered. The status of FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan and other areas should also be resolved so that there is uniformity of constitutional authority throughout the country. These are all important issues to consider and resolved because present conditions cannot continue.

Many expert suggest operational improvement of education, health or police departments. But these operational aspects can only produce results when there is a creditable team installed at the top to run government. These have to be installed through a democratic process but would require a good constitutional framework to deliver. It is for this reason I am suggesting that next general elections should be for a parliament that has the mandate to review the whole constitution and remove anomalies, contradictions and ideological confusion from it. Two nation theory was valid for securing independence and has delivered on its promise. Now we need a new ideology and when forming it we must keep in mind that a state does not have a religion although it has to respect the religious values of the majority while ensuring protection of rights of the minority.

It will take us another 15-20 years to improve our condition if we start walking on the path today. But I am convinced that without reviewing the constitution of 1973 to remove anomalies the foundations of any reform efforts will remain shaky and unreliable.

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