Political consensus on terrorism.
Mohammad Jamil


After 5hour meeting of parliamentary leaders chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reached consensus on all points of National Action Plan including establishment of military courts. Credit goes to the prime minister for bringing all the parties on one page, of course with the support of the COAS General Raheel Sharif. However, PTI Chairman Imran Khan's contribution is equally important in creating an atmosphere due to his decision of ending dharna and postponing public meetings after terror attack on Peshawar school.

Anyhow, a joint declaration issued after the marathon session said that the country's top leadership endorsed the proposed amendments in the Pakistan Army Act to extend its jurisdiction for speedy trial of cases under specified acts, and provide the constitutional cover with a timeframe of two years from the date of enactment.

The participants also reiterated the commitment to dismantle and destroy all terrorist networks operating within the country. Addressing the meeting, Nawaz Sharif said that there is no need for debate in the Parliament, as leaders of all parties have approved the draft bill, which will be voted upon in the National Assembly on Monday the 5th January and in the Senate on Tuesday. In the parliamentary leaders held on Wednesday, it was unanimously resolved that the 20 points enunciated in the APC Resolution of December 24, 2014 shall be acted upon expeditiously. After the meeting of parliamentary leaders on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had addressed the nation in early hours of Thursday outlining the government's strategy and stating the government's intention of uprooting terrorism, adding that the terrorists' days are numbered.

Whereas the national media have acted positively and hailed the national consensus, on Saturday leading English daily's main headline read: "Politicians give in on military courts".

The same day, in its editorial captioned 'A sad day', leader writer stated: "In the end, our political leadership proved unable to defend the constitutional and democratic roots of the system or resist the Generals' demands". He suggested the government and the parliament should urgently strengthen the existing legal system and judicial process. The writer seems to be oblivious to the urgency and sensitivity of the matter, as it could take months or years to remove lacunae from the legal system and to improve and strengthen it. It was in this backdrop that COAS General Raheel Sharif stated that establishment of military courts was not military's demand, but result of the extraordinary situation faced by the country.

In the past, a lot of time had been wasted in holding All Parties Conferences; and this was the reason that timely action could not be taken against the terrorists who gained time to reorganize. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's decision to end moratorium on the execution of death penalty has been well received by all strata of society. As suggested by KPK government, federal government should take up the matter of Afghan refugees with the UN and Afghan government, who are staying in Pakistan for more than three decades. All Afghan refugees should be sent back immediately, which would lessen the work of monitoring them by the provincial administration. KPK government has also passed a resolution condemning the barbaric act by the militants that killed 145 people including 135 students.

Media should be sensitized to play its due role in the fight against terrorism. It should not glorify terrorists' acts, and avoid demoralizing the nation at this crucial juncture. Extremists like Maulana Abdul Aziz and Hafiz Saeed should not be given undue coverage. Whereas military has successfully decimated the infrastructure and network of militants, civil administration should rise to the occasion and play its role.

Provincial civil administrations have to gird up their loins to fight terrorists in its domain; it should start search operations and identify terrorists as well as those elements that aid and abet them in terror acts.

Of course, it would require revamping of CID, special police and other intelligence networks under the civil administration because it is their responsibility to take care of the streets and bazaars of the city. However, the police should be upgraded to make it an effective force.