Figures will prove Pakistanis, not Indians responsible for terrorism: Editorial

April 20th, 2009 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, April 20 (IANS) If the correct facts and figures are presented in parliament, they will prove that Pakistanis themselves and not Indians are responsible for a rash of terror incident across the country, an editorial in a leading English daily contended Monday.
“Put the facts and figures and reports before parliament. Let the people’s representatives see for themselves how often the evidence points towards the Baitullah Mehsuds and the Lashkar-i-Jhangvis and how often towards the Indians or Americans,” Dawn said in the editorial, headlined “Shutting parliament out”.

It also lamented that the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, has been extremely lax in dealing with the 1,395 lives lost in 1,841 terror-related incidents that have occurred in the 14 months the present government has been in power and has not even sought a single report on the scourge.

“Democracy, the politicians seem to forget, isn’t about form over substance,” Dawn said.

Noting that when there isn’t a National Assembly in place or its “composition” is jigged to please a strongman, the politicians are rightly up in arms.

“But once a relatively freely elected and representative National Assembly is in place, the government of the day seems to regard its mere existence as enough for the democratic project. It is not,” Dawn said.

This was particularly so when it comes to militancy and its roots - about which there is still a disastrous lack of consensus - “the government must do everything it can to involve parliament,” the editorial maintained.

What then, could parliament do, Dawn asked, and provided the answer.

“At the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency level, it can assess what has gone wrong in the state’s response and what to do about it,” it said.

Pointing out that the terror incidents had occurred across the length and breadth of the country, the editorial said: “What happens in southern Punjab is connected to what occurs in Swat which is connected to what happens in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) which may, perhaps sooner than some realise, be connected to a surge of terrorism in Karachi.”

At the tactical level, the fight against militancy in Pakistan’s cities, for example, will no doubt have to largely be fought by the provincial governments, but the National Assembly too has an important role to play, the editorial maintained.

“Consider the fact that even when the police do capture militants and their leaders, successful prosecutions are rare. This happens for many reasons: the police investigations are conducted unprofessionally, the prosecutors rely on tainted evidence and witnesses or the law needs to be updated,” Dawn said.

Thus, where more resources are needed by the provinces, parliament can look into the matter and devise a national response.

“Where the legal side needs to be revamped, parliament can enact the necessary laws. But if the National Assembly isn’t seized of the matter of terrorism generally, if even the details of terrorist acts are not laid before it, it can hardly be expected to develop a response, let alone a credible, coherent one.”

Dawn also noted that last October, a special joint session of parliament was convened on the security crisis and a special parliamentary committee on national security was formed to develop a strategy to counter militancy and terrorism, a strategy which has now been presented before parliament.

“But, absence of a consensus on the threat from militancy, policy recommendations will inevitably be what they are: weak and desultory. Empower parliament with information before expecting it to reach the right conclusions,” the editorial contended.

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