Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Imran Khan, State Your Position…

State your position

THE quest for a consensus on the war on terror must continue, though it remains to be seen whether the in-camera briefing by the military to the MPs leads in that direction. Whatever little bit has come out of the closed-door briefing and the senators’ and MNAs’ response to it is not encouraging. The government insists that it is following a three-pronged strategy that combines a selective use of force with offers of talks and the tribal belt’s economic development. The Musharraf government too had been saying this, with little or no sign yet that the back of the insurgency has been broken. In fact the insurgency has spread from Waziristan to all of Fata and even to Swat, and this clearly proves that the three-pronged strategy is not working. The PPP-led government must, therefore, re-examine the flaws in the current approach and come up with a new result-oriented policy so as to prove the opposition wrong when it claims that Mr Zardari and company are merely following the military-led regime’s policies. Clearly, the government is vulnerable here.

Let us recognise one major factor that should serve to strengthen the Taliban’s confidence. America, Britain and Saudi Arabia now seem to be having second thoughts about the war and appear willing to adopt a less jingoistic attitude. Some European leaders too have started thinking on these lines. Against this backdrop, MPs on both sides of the aisle have to rise above partisan considerations and ‘own’ the war on terror. If you do not agree with the government’s policy, you must come out openly with precisely what you have in mind. Some of the government’s harshest critics — Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Imran Khan, for instance — have opted out of the democratic process and are at liberty to talk ad nauseam. But those who are part of the parliamentary opposition have to move away from rhetoric and refrain from playing to the gallery. If they think the government’s policies have entered a cul-de-sac or are in fact counterproductive, it is their moral responsibility not to confine their stance to criticism but to state their position clearly and commit themselves to a course of action they think is in the nation’s best interest.

The tribesmen are now in the picture. This is a major asset for all those who believe that the Taliban are a minority and that they can be cornered and defanged if the vast majority of the people in Fata are made allies in the war on terror. By organising their lashkars the tribal elders have shown that they consider the war on terror as their own, for no one has suffered more from the ravages of war than Fata’s innocent men, women and children.(Dawn)