Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Inaction Plan



This damning and tragically truthful analysis by a reputable police officer who also happened to be the member of the working group for antiterrorism strategy should be an eye opener for the government. The action plan had to be implemented by two institutions namely Pakistan Army and the civil administration. While the army has done its part producing spectacular results, the civil administration continues to drag its feet. We therefore continue to be a witness and victim to the terrorist acts in cities.  Police force should play the lead role in countering terrorism. Time has passed to look up to the political leadership for any decisive action. Police leadership should take the responsibility for a relentless and sustained action against the terrorists. It is their responsibility and duty to restore order at all cost. They owe it to the country, to the people and to thousands of fallen police officers who laid down their lives fighting the terrorists. We have no time. Tomorrow may be too late.
Afzal A Shigri   

Inaction Plan
By Tariq Khosa

TERRORISTS cannot demoralise the nation. The war will continue till the elimination of the last terrorist. Thus spoke the interior minister recently — after some weeks in hibernation. Reassuring? Or are words all he has?
He was declared the counterterrorism czar in January this year by the prime minister in a meehting to discuss the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) when it was decided that the interior minister would lead the effort to implement the 20-point counterterrorism (CT) strategy and ensure proper coordination with all stakeholders.
It is now time to point out the inadequacies of certain aspects of the CT policy being pursued and also highlight the lack of progress in implementing NAP in its true spirit.

The snake-pit of militancy needs to be cleared.

Firstly, over 100 convicts have been hanged in five months since the Dec 16 carnage at the Army Public School, Peshawar. Has capital punishment deterred diehard terrorists? All I can say with my experience of more than 40 years in law enforcement is that it is the certainty and not the severity of punishment that deters criminals or reduces criminality. As long as loopholes exist in our justice system, death by hanging will not work.
Second, NAP emphasised that no armed militias would be allowed to function in the country. While the interior ministry has banned issuance of arms licences, some provinces are generously distributing licences of even prohibited-bore weapons. There is no policy of firm gun control in any province. No wonder violence cannot be stopped by a state machinery unwilling or incapable of enforcing its writ through effective deweaponisation.
Third, the National Counter-Terrorism Authority was to be strengthened and activated. However, Nacta has not been placed under the prime minister as per the law. The interior minister continues to keep Nacta under his wing, without giving it the necessary professional staff and resources. No wonder the vacuum is being filled by the military establishment.
Fourth, effective measures were required to counter hate speech. Some progress in this regard has been achieved by the Punjab and KP governments. However, the extremist mindset has permeated society and a wholesome strategy is missing.
Fifth, choking terror financing has not met with any significant success. A task force under the finance minister held a few meetings but has failed so far to come up with an institutional mechanism to regulate or block financing for terrorists.
Sixth, NAP required ensuring that proscribed organisations do not re-emerge. The working group had suggested banning the office-bearers and leaders of militant organisations. However, proscribed groups re-emerge with new names; some pose as charitable entities, others simply flout the ban. Therefore, those responsible for creating these monsters need to show resolve to clear the snake-pit of militancy.
Seventh, the plan required “taking effective steps against religious persecution”. This is an area where a long-term strategy is required. What should be the role of religion in matters of statecraft? How should we safeguard the fundamental rights of the minorities? This is a larger debate that this nation cannot afford to ignore.
Eighth, the crucial plan to register and regulate madressahs has stalled. This is where the government has buckled under the pressure of religious parties. It was decided that all madressahs would be registered; foreign students expelled, scores of identified seminaries promoting violence closed down, independent audit of all their funding carried out and all foreign funding routed through government institutions. Eventually, all madressahs were to be brought under the provincial education departments.
Ninth, zero tolerance for militancy in Punjab was to be shown. This is the real battle zone where nurseries of religious extremism, sectarianism and militancy have thrived for far too long. While assuring that all non-state actors would be tackled eventually, the army chief will be tested hard on his commitment.
Tenth, NAP stressed on empowering the Balochistan government for political reconciliation with dissidents through complete ownership by all stakeholders. The political government has not been given a free hand to resolve the issue of missing persons. The kill-and-dump strategy has not been abandoned completely. Security forces are combating the Baloch insurgency through strong-arm tactics. No one is prepared to give peace a chance, at least for now.
Eleventh, an important NAP point dealt with revamping and reforming the criminal justice system, including strengthening CT departments. This is unfortunately not a priority of the state. The government is not willing to depoliticise the police or give them sufficient autonomy and resources. In the absence of all this, the military will keep calling the shots in internal security matters.
This, in a nutshell, is the national inaction plan against the terrorists who want to dismantle our state. Will the CT czar lead the battle against the militants in real earnest?
The writer is a retired police officer.
Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2015

No Country for Nekokaras



 In this land of pure Nekokara committed the ultimate sin to talk about the law and rights of the people. He is a criminal and so are we. I was not  considered once  for an assignment as the boss thought I talked about law too much. An excellent article that unmasks the ugly face of the political leadership and their minions.

Afzal A Shigri



No Country for Nekokaras

by: Saad Rasool.
Pakistan is a country of clashing extremes. It is a land of euphoric highs, and abysmal lows. It is a place of deep disappointments, and soaring hopes. Embedded somewhere in this conflicting myriad, we are a people who watch, in silence, as our Davids are slain at the hands of our Goliaths, and then proceed to construct (futile) heroic monuments, in remembrance of the martyred.
 In the latest and perhaps the most striking episode of this recurring saga (which is Pakistan), the political establishment of PML(N), in collusion with their loyalist civil “servants,” have “dismissed from service” an honest, upright and intrepid police officer, SSP Muhammad Ali Nekokara, on fallacious charges of “inefficiency and misconduct.” SSP Nekokara’s story is the perfect example of piercing hope (on part of this admirable officer), in the face of dictatorial oppression (on part of the government functionaries).
 As it transpired (and is evident from the available record), SSP Nekokara was serving in ICT, during the fateful days of PTI’s long march and dharna against the PML(N) government, in August of 2014. Through successive moves of political incursion, as PTI and PAT supporters started to inch towards the Parliament and Prime Minister House, SSP Nekokara was ordered, by his (partisan) political superiors, to “use force” against unarmed protestors, ostensibly in order to protect the political fiefdom of the PML(N) government. In fidelity to the cardinal principle that PSP officers are “servants” of the State (and the people), as opposed to any one political party, SSP Nekokara exercised his independent judgment to recommend that ‘use of force’ may result in unnecessary damage and loss of life.  To this end, on 26th August 2014, in light of the events of Model Town tragedy, SSP Nekokara recommended to the Secretary Interior, in writing, that he did not support using force, by the law enforcement agencies, against a crowd of over 30,000 people, including women and children.
However, disregarding SSP Nekokara’s professional recommendation, on the fateful night of 30th August 2014, the Deputy Commissioner of ICT ordered the use of force, including tear gas, for dispersing the gathered PTI and PAT supporters.
 The following morning, on 31st August, 2014, Secretary Interior telephonically directed SSP Nekokara to use additional force, in order to disperse the remaining protestors. Deeming this to be an unwarranted use of State power against hapless citizens, SSP Nekokara refused to carry out these orders, and instead requested to be transferred or sent on leave.  Almost immediately, he was removed from his post, and left to face the unrelenting wrath of political superiors.
 In the aftermath, owing to the loss of life that resulted from State barbarity on the night of 30th August, 2014, despite SSP Nekokara’s professional advice to the contrary, he was nominated in multiple FIRs that were lodged by the protestors.
 Ironically, on the other hand, the government (irked by his defiance) suspended SSP Nekokara, and initiated an enquiry against him, which culminated in a report by the Inspector General of Police, Baluchistan, Mr. Muhammad Amlesh, recommending “dismissal” of SSP Nekokara from Police Service. Based on this (tainted) enquiry report, Mr. Aizaz Chaudary, the Foreign Secretary (Authorized Officer), recommended SSP Nekokara’s dismissal, which was duly processed and notified by Secretary Establishment, on Wednesday.
 Interestingly, in violation of established principles of our jurisprudence, and in particular, Article 10-A of the Constitution (Right to Fair Trial), SSP Nekokara was not afforded the full spectrum of due process of law throughout these proceedings, and his dismissal was recommended without having sought a complete reply from him, or having afforded him a personal opportunity of hearing by the Authorized Officer.
 In the land of the pure, this is (depressingly) the fate of a Civil Servant who swears allegiance to the empire of our Constitution, the spirit of our laws, and the interest of our people, instead of bowing his head, in ignominious surrender, before the political masters of our time.
 The blatancy of government’s monstrosity in dismissing SSP Nekokara finds no justification in our democratic ethos or the Constitution. To begin with, Article 4 of the Constitution requires every individual (including SSP Nekokara!) to be “dealt with in accordance with law”. And this, not only entails the right to due process of law, but also to be judged in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Services Act, 1973, the Police Act, 1861, the Police Order, 2002, and most importantly, judgments of the honorable Supreme Court. These laws unequivocally state that a police officer is only bound to obey “lawful” orders of the superiors (e.g. Section 3(m) and Section 4 of the Police Order, 2002). The honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan, expounding upon these principles, explicitly stated, in the case of Zahid Akhtar vs. Government of Punjab (PLD 1995 SC 530), that Civil Servants “must not” follow orders from the superiors, which violate the letter and spirit of our laws. Furthermore, in the case of Anita Turab (PLD 2013 SC 195), the honorable Supreme Court went a step further to declare that Civil Servants “are not subservient to the political executive”, and must take decisions “only in accordance with law in the public interest”.
 Additionally, Article 5 of the Constitution deems loyalty to the “State” (note: not to the “government”), and “obedience to the Constitution”, to be a “basic” and “inviolable” duty for us all.  And the ambit of this incontrovertible command of the Constitution encompasses SSP Nekokara, as well as members of the inquiry commission, Secretary Establishment, and the political superiors. How then can members of the inquiry commission dismiss SSP Nekokara for abiding by the command of Article 5, is beyond justification.  In fact, it can be argued that, in dismissing SSP Nekokara, members of the inquiry commission, the Secretary Establishment, and the political elites, have all acted in contravention of Article 5 of the Constitution.
For over six decades, the defenseless people of Pakistan have suffered, excruciatingly, at the hands of a bureaucracy that has become nothing but a pliable tool in the hands of partisan politics. The fabric of our history is stained with innocent blood, spilled as a result of bureaucratic excesses, from Model Town to D-Chowk. As a result of this disgraceful paradigm, today, we are a State that cultivates Gullu Butts and thrashes the blind. A State that protects Shahrukh Jatoi, and punishes Rimsha Masih.  One that dismisses Nekokara, and rewards its loyal “servants”.
 SSP Nekokara is being punished for ‘disobeying’ the political masters, and instead staying loyal to the interest of the people, and the mandatory command of our laws, as enunciated by the honorable Supreme Court.  If we allow, in criminal silence, for his dismissal to persist, we will all be complicit in stamping a perverse brand of politics onto the spine of our Civil Services.  If we allow him to be punished, we would all have added our breath to that sinister wind which is likely to extinguish all hope of an independent bureaucracy in Pakistan.
 If what Nekokara has done is a crime, let us all muster the courage to step forth, and be counted among criminals.
 The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore.  He has a Masters in Constitutional Law from Harvard Law School.  He can be reached at: saad@post.harvard.edu, or Twitter: @Ch_SaadRasool