Obituary: National Action Plan

The National Action Plan (NAP) was arguably conceived a decade too late. Memories of violence during the years leading up to its much procrastinated birth, and the accompanying reign of terror, are still etched in memory. No surprise then that NAP’s premature demise doesn’t feel quite as jolting as it otherwise would have.

The lack of mourning is primarily because we’re all broadly divided into two camps: those failing to acknowledge that NAP is dead and those who were certain that it was never born to begin with. Sandwiched between the delusional and the misanthropists are those who perceived anything from a glimmer to bright sunshine in the past 12 months. It is those ‘realists’ who shall be hosting the low attendance funeral, while cremating their optimism alongside.

One man who shall definitely give the funeral a pass is Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan. Nisar obviously believes his baby is alive and well. Even though he has hinted at psychological downs, the universe would collectively fail to convince him over the offspring’s deteriorating health, let alone, its demise.
Nisar’s chums suggest that he was grooming the baby to take on Abdul Aziz eventually. He was waiting for it to be sufficiently beefed up. It’s a pity no one informed him that NAP couldn’t have survived alongside Aziz. Or maybe he knew it all along and continued to choose fear over fight.

But it would be unfair to try Aziz for NAP’s murder. He has dealt with foes far more resilient, and coped with challenges far more demanding, than an unfortunately christened, half-hearted lollipop.

No, Aziz alone could never have killed NAP. Had NAP been nourished properly, the naysayers could’ve braced themselves for a final showdown with an Abdul Aziz significantly less menacing than his halcyon days. While Aziz was the perpetual anathema to National Action Plan’s sustenance, NAP was actually killed elsewhere.

A week after arguably its biggest show of strength at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, NAP was first targeted in Pathankot. Its godfathers had the choice to take down the hunters, and let NAP grow. They chose to stall the action, sugaring the pill in Bahawalpur. NAP was hence diagnosed with indecisiveness.

NAP was then targeted at Muzaffarabad, the capital of a disputed territory the caretakers of NAP overenthusiastically call Azad Kashmir. UJC chairman Syed Salahuddin further damaged NAP’s health in the local press club. Salahuddin had confessed to being the Pathankot hunter. Hunting him down would’ve improved NAP’s health. Dillydallying had now begun to spread in the patient's upper body.

NAP was then targeted in Charsadda. Again, it wasn’t the attack that wounded NAP – even the harshest cynics would’ve conceded the impossibility of permanent damage control. NAP continued to ail with lack of action. It suffered from shying away from the elephant in the room.

The responsibility of NAP’s health was then passed on to schoolchildren and teachers, who themselves were being vociferously targeted. Those who get killed while defending the ailing NAP were promised martyrdom, anniversary events and commemorating jingles. It was seeing toddlers as its last line of defence that pushed NAP to the brink. The indecision had spread all over the body.

What finally killed the National Action Plan was Masood Azhar. His being cleared from involvement in Pathankot was the final blow. That he was guilty or not was irrelevant. That he continues to be prized and shielded was not.

The immunity enjoyed by Azhar, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed has laid bare the illusion that National Action Plan was. Anti-Indianism was picked over Pakistani interests. The conditions that necessitated NAP’s birth were rigidly restored to suffocate it to death.

It was thence revealed that NAP’s preterm birth was to complement its elder stepsibling Zarb-e-Azb. NAP was to cover for Zarb-e-Azb. It was to divert attention from the elder sibling’s shortcomings. It was supposed to answer questions that Zarb-e-Azb couldn’t.

When the questions became unbearable, NAP had to be made the scapegoat. NAP was allowed to die so that Zarb could live on.

Zarb’s parent wouldn’t compromise on anti-Indianism. They wouldn’t compromise on anything short of complete household control. This means no accountability and complete authority. This would allow Zarb to continue going after those that had betrayed its parent, leaving little thought for the home’s sustenance.

While NAP was being nourished to address the foundation, Zarb only wants to drill the surface. Because it’s the surface that shows. Now the drilling would continue, while the foundation remains exposed.

Some of us would still be fostering delusions of NAP’s reincarnation at its funeral. We don’t want the building to collapse amidst all the drilling.

But it’s evident that for NAP to be born again, Zarb would have to go out of the limelight. Its egoistic stubbornness and vengeful destruction would have to be put to one side to help conceive a stronger, fitter NAP. Zarb’s bratty tendencies might not allow that to happen.

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid is a former member of staffHe can be reached at Follow him on Twitter

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