Pakistan’s security and the NWFP peace plan

The government of NWFP proposes to place before the next session of the provincial assembly a comprehensive peace plan. This plan has been prepared by the ANP Task Force and is now under discussion at the national and provincial level.

The plan favours a multi dimensional approach instead of focusing only on a military solution. However, the success of this plan will depend on implementation of a similar intervention in Fata.

Peace and security cannot be achieved in NWFP, without first having it in Fata. Secondly, NWFP cannot implement reforms in Malakand, unless this area is excluded from the purview of Articles 246-247 of the Constitution. It places Malakand, outside NWFP’s control.

The forthcoming debate on the peace plan provides an opportunity to positively influence the security policies of US in this region. If global security requires Pakistan to remedy a socio-political crisis emerging from an Islamist movement in Pakistan, then in all fairness, it must be ensured that an indigenous Pakistani plan is used for solving the problem.

Only a few days ago, the US accountability office criticized the US executive branch and stated, The United States has not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close the safe haven in Pakistan’s Fata. It then went on to say that the US relied on the Pakistani military to address US national security goals.

Three conclusions can be derived from this statement. Firstly, it establishes that the goal of fighting terrorism was established by the US. It is not known whether Pakistan was consulted in the formulation of this objective? It is apparent that had Pakistan been engaged, the goal would not have been the destruction of the terrorist threat but the transformation of Fata into a stable society.

Secondly, the goal of destruction implies the use of military force alone. In the typology of counter insurgency, it signifies reliance on coercion and a shift away from a rule of law approach; this invites further radicalization.

Thirdly, it is evident that the present crisis of the Pakistani state is mainly a consequence of the implementation of a security policy based on the use of military force alone. The use of force and violence results in a Faustian transformation of the state with adverse results.

For example it has led to the creation of new issues relating to violation of human rights by implementing a policy without legal over-sight. It is widely known that removal of the chief justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudary, resulted from his insistence that the government should account for the missing persons, who had been arrested by the military.

It is learnt that under the cover of stamping out terrorism, Pakistan arrested scores of Baluchi tribesmen, especially Marris and Bugtis. They and others languish in jails for expressing ethnic grievances. It is to be noted that when intelligence agencies fail to prove a terrorism charge, the accused is retained in jail in other false cases. Intelligence officers, when asked why they acted in such a manner replied that, If we release a person arrested for terrorism for lack of proof, it is considered a failure on our part and affects our future carriers.

Secondly, by concentrating on Fata, the US began a spoiling action conducted by the Pakistani military. This operation attracted all the hard core radical elements like Uzbeks, Afghan Taliban and the Kashmiri Jihadis into Fata. In a sense it is like the corralling of wild horses. The trap was now set. However, the February election conflicted with the launching of a major operation. Had this operation occurred we would have lost substantial control over NWFP districts.

Briefly, a spoiling strategy is not meant to solve a crisis but to deflect it away from the US mainland. Presently, there are five such major spoiling actions under way; they are in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines / Indonesia and Peninsular Arabia.

US military strategy since World War II has relied on this approach  Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are all examples. Under this strategy there is no outright victory but a highlighting of an issue and its transformation from a grievance into the crime of terrorism!

A major after effect of a spoiling operation is institutional damage caused to the country in which it occurs. Signs of institutional break down are clearly visible in tribal areas and in NWFP.

This approach has thus created a security McCarthyism. Instead of the proverbial fear of a communist hiding behind every bush we now have a terrorist. This paradigm is conceptually flawed. Sadly, what makes the threat of terrorism a self fulfilling prophecy is the structure of the US security system and it’s slicing of the world into five military regions – acronymically called cincs – CENTCON is the best known to us.

It is natural, that if the US views the world from a military paradigm alone, then proposals meant to solve issues would be channeled through the same military  institutions. Such a security philosophy means permanent war, tension and global instability.

Since Pakistan now has a political government she should begin a meaningful dialogue with the US leading to a change of the paradigm and instead persuade it to rely on a transformation strategy for dealing with radical violence. Securing peace will not be easy given the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, which has always been anathema to the Afghans. But an attempt must be made.

The NWFP has been discussing a comprehensive peace plan. It is a mid-term three years proposal costing about $ 4 billion and aims at reducing the insurgency by 30%.

Its other objectives are the reduction of attacks on security forces, sharply curtailing suicide bombings, the retrieval of physical space lost to the militants and re-establishing the writ of the state.

Some of the highlights of the plan are: an increase of fourteen thousand men in police and constabulary, establishment of permanent regional religious peace conferences, and regulating the entry and qualification of prayer leaders.

A Rs. 600 million rural endowment fund will be established for mobilization of four thousand village peace committees. Besides their role in securitization of rural areas, they will work in tandem with other rural organizations for distribution of micro credit and other services.

Five hundred Madrassas will be upgraded for imparting marketable skills to students. One of the core programs is the rehabilitation of twelve thousand former militants. To reduce poverty, seven thousand new jobs per annum are planned for the educated youth. More than ten thousand new daily wage jobs will be provided through implementation of infrastructure projects.

The main threat to the plan comes from the worsening financial position of the country. Rising inflation and a looming fiscal deficit will endanger its implementation. Thus dependency on external resources is inevitable. There are some indications that assistance may be provided by Saudi Arabia, the US and Pakistan’s other donor friends.

While the plan is given shape, the NWFP peace process has started with the signing of an agreement between the government and the leadership of the TSNM on April 20th. It is too early to say whether the agreement will change the ground situation immediately; however, it is an opening which can be fruitfully used for reduction of violence.

Confronting insurgencies is a long term effort, which may last from fifteen to twenty years. However, social and political reforms coupled with effective empowerment and democratization will go a long way in re-establishing peace. NWFP has indicated the will to change the situation. Pakistan’s future is linked to the success of this strategy.