Restoring the writ of the state
31 March, 2014
By Malik Muhammad Ashraf
Constitutions embody the will of nations and delineate the contours of the course to be adopted by them to achieve cherished goals. Adherence to the constitution and the laws enacted in consonance with the constitution, provide the foundations on which the edifice of a state is erected and the spirit of harmony and unity nurtured among different segments of the society that acts as a catalyst for peace and progress. Any deviation from the constitution leads to chaos, disunity and emergence of the fissiparous tendencies that undermine the very objectives that a nation sets for itself to achieve, besides threatening its security.
Current challenges like terrorism, extremism, sectarianism, the insurgency in Balochistan and a precarious law and order situation in Karachi, are undoubtedly the result of the unconstitutional rules in the country and the consequent political instability with all its negative fall out. People often ask what they can do to overcome these debilitating challenges and remove the threats to national security. The answer lies in going back to the drawing board, rediscovering the contours of the state envisioned by the founding father and making the slogan 'Unity, Faith, Discipline,' a driving force for all our actions designed at nation building. All this invariably comes through adherence to the constitution.
The state cannot survive if the constitutional order is not respected and the rule of law not enforced. The strengthening of Pakistan's identity as a modern and democratic state at peace both with itself and its neighbors and one that is recognized as a responsible sovereign all over the world can be achieved only through strictly following the constitutional course. The discipline of a state is a product of its constitution and is exercised through the fearless implementation of its laws while ensuring the fundamental principles of equality before the law, equal treatment before the law and due process of the law.
It is encouraging to note that the PML (N) government has shown a remarkable sincerity of purpose in dealing with the challenges confronting the country especially terrorism, ensuring the ascendancy of the constitution and restoring the writ of the state. A comprehensive National Internal Security Policy has been drawn up to deal with the menace of terrorism for the first time in the history of the country which, besides giving priority to resolving the conflict through dialogue, and very rightly so, also aims at mounting an ideological challenge to the dogma of the TTP. It removes the causes of terrorism and also strengthens the security and intelligence apparatus of the state to enforce the writ of the state in case the dialogue initiated with the TTP fails to produce positive results.
Pakistan has suffered the most in the war on terror. The revival of the economy, ensuring peace and security and constitutional rule in the country are inextricably linked to an early resolution of the problem. Dialogue, arguably, is the best option to resolve the conflict. It is a proven fact that countries which resorted to an over-reliance on military response to terrorism and insurgencies, actually aggravated and prolonged the conflict and consequently the suffering of the people. The government, despite the frequent hiccups and continuation of terrorist acts, has shown an unswerving commitment to ending terrorism through dialogue in recognition of historic realities.
The dialogue must be given a fair chance to succeed. The government has made it abundantly clear that parleys would be held within constitutional parameters only with elements willing to shun terrorism and the non-conformists would be dealt with the full might of the state. The parleys however, can prove productive only when the other side also realizes the futility of their actions and expresses willingness to respect the constitution and what it stands for. Nevertheless, it is satisfying to note that some positive signals are emanating from TTP quarters with regards to settling the issue through dialogue. The TTP has distanced itself from the recent terrorist acts and even indicated to take action against the dissident terrorist outfits. The government also seems upbeat about the chances of success of the dialogue process.
Terrorism is a complex issue which cannot be resolved by any one party or one institution. It demands a concerted effort by all political parties, state institutions and the entire nation. Unfortunately, it has both internal and external dimensions due to the involvement of the Kabul-India nexus. No person in his right mind can begrudge the dialogue initiative if it really leads to smoothing out the ideological differences between the TTP and the state of Pakistan and ushers in an era of peace, so vitally needed to put the country back on track.
The government has rightly accorded top priority to dealing with the issue of terrorism and taken positive initiatives to restore peace in Karachi. These policy initiatives have already started showing some encouraging results and would certainly take some time to create a wholesome effect. The problems are so convoluted that there is no quick fix solution for them. Still, the most important thing is that steps have been taken in the right direction.
The writer is a freelance columnist.