You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of democracy, social justice and the equality of mankind in your own native soil. [Mohammed Ali Jinnah]

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Parliamentary National Security Committee finalises strategy

The Parliamentary committee on National Security has finalised it's strategy with regards to National Security and terrorism. The committee was formed by a joint Govt. and Opposition resolution in National Assembly.

The committee is headed by Sen. Raza Rabbani, while members consist of all the ruling and opposition parties. It was announced by committee that they have reached a unanimous charter, only second time in the history of this military ruled and politically debacled country in 60 years, to counter external, but more importantly, internal threats.

The findings will be presented in National Assembly on 9th April and in Senate on 17th April, and made open for discussion in both the houses, and released to public.

It is widely speculated that, the new strategy's focal point is its toughened position on the infamous Drone Attacks. The drone attacks by NATO forces on Pakistan's tribal belt, bordering Afghanistan, is being viewed as a primary source of resentment of the locals against the Government of Pakistan, and has been a major motivational tool for the likes of Baitullah Mehsud, Mangal Bagh and Mulana Fazlullah's armed militia's, operating autonomously in the Tribal belt and adjoining areas.

Recently, all the major attacks, including the attacks on Sri Lankan Cricket team, the attack on Police Academy in Lahore and the attack on Paramilitary residential quarters in Islamabad have been cited as 'revenge' for the 'drone attacks' by the TTP leader, Baitullah Mehsood.

The biggest problem, for Government to reach an accord with locals for non-assistance to Taliban, have been these drone attacks. In the tribal belt, when a drone attacks the village of a particular tribe, and kills people belonging to the tribe, that tribe, according to the tribal traditions, takes it upon themselves to 'avenge' the death of their fellow tribesman. This is where the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) provides them with a platform to fight the 'agressors'. NATO forces, ( more commonly viewed as US forces) in Afghanistan, and Pakistan Army and Civilian Law and Order agencies as their helpers and co-conspirators in Pakistan.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has reported over 4000 deaths in past few years, not including the death toll of Army, militants, and those killed in Drone Attacks. Add to it the AFP and other independednt news aganecies reported toll of over 350 people killed by drone attacks, in 2008 alone.

While the death toll is humungous, the Pakistan Govt. from the out-set during the Bush administration has been meekish in objecting to drone attacks. Gen. Musharraf's government, not once raised the question of drone attacks on official forums. Things, however, are now shaping up, especially when US envoy Richard Holbrooke is here.

A common person in Pakistan views these strikes as a violation of Nation's sovereignty., an issue most people are sensitive to in their psychological make up. That view is now being represented by the National Assembly. It fans more anti-American sentiments, and makes the Govt. position difficult to openly acknlowdge the threat of extremeists and devise and persue a counter strategy.

While drone attacks have been effective in killing their main targets i.e. high valued Taliban commanders i.e. Commander Naik Mohammad of Waziristan, and the foreigners(Chechen, Uzbek and Arabs) aiding Taliban,but the collateral they bring with them is huge. Only today a suspected Drone attack in a busy Waziristan market, fired a missile on a car parked outside shops. four people including two suspected Taliban and a shopper were killed, while another 4 shop keepers and shoppers were injured. In 2007, a suspected drone missile strike on a religious seminary killed more than 250 people in Bajaur.

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