The reason for abrupt pause in Karachi Operation is well known. The duration of special powers given to Sindh Rangers to carry out operations in aid of civil power has ended and further extension is not being granted by Chief Minister Sindh. He has rather decided to take the matter to Sindh Assembly. And the Provincial Assembly is clearly dilly dallying and delaying any discussion on the subject. The reasons are obvious, as the two large political parties in the assembly perceive the Ranger Operations primarily directed against them and their senior members. Federal government, or at least the Interior Ministry is all for the resumption of the operations. Rangers, FIA, NAB etc., are advising the Federal Ministry that any interruption would cost the Nation dearly, as the terrorists and criminal elements may rebound. MI is advising COAS that the task is not finished as yet and all sacrifices by various agencies and the people may go waste. ISI must have given its clear inputs to Prime Minister as he is also for the continuation of operations till their logical end. A lot of wrangling is going on at political level as which way to proceed. There seems to be an impasse. A great majority of the populace is expecting a move by the Armed Forces or Supreme Court to resolve the issue. But both these institutions have no legal or constitutional authority to intervene. Thus the Rangers and Armed Forces after giving their inputs and recommendations to the right quarters are anxiously waiting for the orders. And their anxiety is well-founded as they would not like to see all their efforts and sacrifices going in vain, and Karachi, once more sliding back to its chaotic situation.
So where is the opportunity that the topic of this scribe suggested? The sitting central government wants continuation of Karachi operations till the logical end (and let us leave out the definition of ‘logical end’ ). Peoples Party desires that such operations be expanded to Punjab also, corollary being that it should expand to the length and breadth of the country. MQM is asking to expand its jurisdiction to rural areas also, corollary being the same as above. PTI is already crying hoarse to arrest high level criminal corruption as it corroborates with extremism and terrorism. So, it means, political parties individually want the Karachi type operations in certain areas where their opponents are in power. And if we add up their total desires, they want such operations everywhere. But if asked to vote collectively they will all want no operations anywhere! Thus, a strange contradictory tangle. But if we ask the people of Pakistan, they will overwhelmingly want such cleansing everywhere. Ladies and gentlemen here lies the opportunity for the people of Pakistan. Supreme Court should be approached to evaluate the seriousness of this constitutional knot and order a referendum on the subject. Simple question: “Should Karachi like anti terrorist operations be undertaken everywhere in the countrys?” The only caveat being whether the law enforcement agencies with the help of Rangers and Armed Forces can undertake such a venture? This exercise of evaluation should be given to the COAS by the Supreme Court. Maybe they can carry out such operations in phases.
All political parties shall be happy as all their political opponents will come under stress one by one. Collectively they should not oppose as all constitutional institutions remain in tact. Federal and provincial governments keep performing their duties and the superiority of parliament and political government should not be challenged. Only the rogue elements, terrorist and their financial and political abettors will get eliminated. What a good sign for the country. A total win-win situation for all. If the government wants to avoid embarrassment, alternatively, the Prime Minister may call the All Parties Round Table Meeting, and place this proposal of across the board Karachi like operations, throughout the country. Political endorsement will give full authenticity and a free hand to law enforcement elements, to operate against terrorism and their supporters, remaining within special powers and law of the land.
Only two prerequisites are needed; initiative by Supreme Court in a peculiar situation to devise a legal method or initiative by Prime Minister; no move by political parties to protect the black sheep in their ranks. The country will emerge successful with the people of Pakistan, irrespective of their political affiliations, happy to get rid of the ugly menace of terrorism and broken law and order. , the law enforcement agencies, Armed Forces and the people of Pakistan will further remain engaged and may face further losses. But that price has to be paid to secure our beloved Motherland against the evil designs of our internal and external enemies. Is the nation (including all institutions and political forces) ready to rise to this occasion? There could be no better opportunity!
Writer is an ex-senior military officer also served as Federal Secretary Defense.