Sacrificing Our TODAY for the World's TOMORROW
FATA is "Federally Administered Tribal Area" of Pakistan; consisting of 7 Agencies and 6 F.Rs; with a 27000 Sq Km area and 4.5 m population.
MYTH: FATA is the HUB of militancy, terrorism and unrest in Afghanistan.
REALITY: FATA is the worst "VICTIM of Militancy”. Thousands of Civilians dead & injured; Hundreds of Schools destroyed; Thousands of homes raised to ground; 40% population displaced from homes.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dismal record of Pakistan's federal cabinet - By Ansar Abbasi (The News, 12 May 2011)

Courtesy: Daily "The News", 12 May 2011
The dismal record of the federal cabinet
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet under Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani met around 70 times during the last three years but not even once it exclusively reviewed the post-9/11 Musharraf’s policy on war on terror and its fallout and the growing incidents of breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
A glance at the issues as discussed in the cabinet meetings under Gilani and reflected by the media following the government’s own press briefings or press releases, shows that this top decision making body of the government has little or no interest in critical issues which are said to be entirely delegated to the defence establishment. The question of war on terrorthough did crop up in some of these cabinet meetings, not for the purpose of reviewing the strategies but mostly in reference to its negative impact on the country’s economy.
Extremely on rare occasions, the media was told about the cabinet’s discussion on drone attacks but there has never been any strategy announced how to get these drone attacks stopped to restore the sovereignty of Pakistan. The cabinet did not say even once that these drones must be stopped forthwith. The cabinet also never showed any interest to ask for the covert deals between Pakistan and Washington agreed following 9/11.

In one of the cabinet meetings, it was claimed that the cabinet discussed the proposal to tap all diplomatic sources to stop the continuing drone attacks inside the Pakistani territory but without any follow up. Later the cabinet was never told about such diplomatic efforts or their outcome.
In one of the cabinet meetings, the prime minister was reported to have told the cabinet that the government would formulate its strategy on preventing the drone attacks on the recommendations of the parliamentary committee on national security but even this assurance of the prime minister evaporated in the air.
In one of the cabinet meetings, the cabinet did say that the drone attacks constitute attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty and these are counter-productive to the objectives of fight against terrorism but it never condemned the US for these attacks.
Terrorism otherwise has though been discussed in these cabinet meetings but mainly surrounding the major terror incidents but without much outcome. For example in the wake of terrorist attack on the Marriott Hotel, Islamabad, Prime Minister Gilani showed his dissatisfaction over the overall law and order situation in the country and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to fight terrorism. He urged for an effective strategy to deal with terrorist incidents in a more coordinated manner in order to provide an environment of peace and security to the people of Pakistan.
Later in another cabinet meeting of 2008 the cabinet decided to constitute a special squad to counter terrorism and the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacts) would be exclusively tasked to counter this menace. In 2011, following a cabinet meeting the information minister announced that the cabinet had disapproved a draft of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority bill and called for improvement to make it more acceptable.
In 2009, the cabinet decided to institute Prime Minister’s Special Fund for Victims of Terrorism with an initial contribution of Rs20 million from the cabinet members. The cabinet members also announced to contribute their one-month salary to the fund for the victims of terrorism in Swat
The cabinet also decided to contact all the political forces and members of the civil society to hold peace marches in different parts of the country against terrorists and terrorism. “It has been decided that the group of ministers would meet political leadership to muster their support for the cause, which the government is pursuing in the larger interest of the country,” the prime minister added but rarely such peace marches were witnessed.
In mid-2009, the cabinet was informed that the economic growth rate at present was mere 2.5 percent mainly because of heavy expenses on the war on terrorism and it was a source of concern for the government. Later in another cabinet meeting, it was said that Pakistan was fighting its own war against terrorism and it would continue till the elimination of terrorism from the country.
In some of the cabinet meetings the incidents of bomb blasts and suicide bombings in different cities including Lahore and Karachi were condemned with usual resolve that the government with the active support of the people would continue to wage a struggle against the menace of terrorism. The cabinet has been paying rich tributes to members of law enforcing agencies for their sacrifices in this war.
In one of the cabinet meetings, the prime minister took the credit of his government having successfully fighting a war against terrorism with the help of valiant security forces and the people of Pakistan.
It was in 2011 following the killing of the then Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti that the cabinet decided to reshape the government’s counter-terrorism strategy and remove all the security loopholes to take more offensive measures against the terrorists, who have changed their strategy by adopting the new trend of target killings. But it was never disclosed to the people what strategy was actually evolved later.
In that particular cabinet meeting the routine agenda was suspended by the prime minister, who issued directives to the Interior Ministry to beef up security of ministers, top politicians and the parliamentary heads of political parties in parliament, and affirmed in clear terms that no security breach of the top political leaders would be tolerated at any cost.
On one occasion Prime Minister Gilani during the cabinet meeting showed his dissatisfaction over the overall law and order situation in the country and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to fight terrorism. He again urged for an effective strategy to deal with terrorist incidents in a more coordinated manner in order to provide an environment of peace and security to the people of Pakistan. The required strategy, however, was never shared with the people.

Note: The viewpoint expressed in this article is solely that of the writer / news outlet. "FATA Awareness Initiative" Team may not agree with the opinion presented.

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