Pakistan needs big ideas like Einstein’s to fight terror; not a kindergarten of little Einsteins who whizz around the presidency, the PM House and parliament pretending to stall the march of the Taliban.
Last week, the 170 million Pakistanis were handed down their death sentence. We were told that twice a week we would be in the line of fire by the Tehrik-e-Taliban. This was our punishment, said Hakimullah Mehsud, for the drone attacks conducted by the Americans. Pat came the presidential response: “I will not let the Taliban win,” vowed Zardari who prefers first-person pronoun. In these murderous times the singular ‘I, me and myself’ hardly comfort. His predecessor was equally lackadaisical. The cigar-toting Musharraf secured his own space so that no suicide bomber could get to him. He lived and enjoyed life. For the rest of his citizens – well they could go take a hike.
Even Benazir Bhutto was left unprotected and allowed to die.
Prime Minister Gilani in his latest designer suit with matching tie and hanky assembled his Spartan warriors. Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar (the man who said that drones land here but don’t take off from Pakistan); Information Minister Kaira; Interior Adviser Rehman Malik, the four chief ministers, chief secretaries, police chiefs and FIA and IB heads: together they ‘brainstormed’ on how to lick terrorism. A light bulb came on! The geniuses in the parliamentary committee on national security were tasked with terror fight. The Mian, Maulana, Sardar, Professor and Khattak are commissioned to bring forth an encyclopaedia on terrorism covering all its aspects – from A to Z. These men are our last defence against the Taliban. And the most important decision of all is that they will meet ‘every month’. Wow! Gilani and his little Einsteins then retired for a hearty meal, I guess.
The president meanwhile waited anxiously at the presidency on the outcome of this momentous moot. The prime minister gallantly charged off to tell his boss the great plan.
Wait… more is on its way. We are told that Rehman Malik ‘informed’ PM Gilani about forming a ‘special anti-terrorism force’ because the police are ‘ineffective’. This bit of good news should make citizens sleep easy at night and walk the roads like lions in the day. Twenty thousand strong will be around to protect us when a suicide bomber strikes. That evening the TV titans – the same pinheads you hear nightly – debated vacuously on the efficacy of the force. A retired general in charge of interior during the caretaker government is in hot demand by the channels. He holds forth as if he’s addressing a corner meeting at Mochi Gate, Lahore. But he talks sense often.
Did you notice the body language of Holbrooke and Mullen at the press conference? They were the archetypical ugly American wanting to ramrod their plan. Pakistan said no. Drones once again took centre stage. Why can’t the US look for alternative routes to eliminate the ‘foreigners’ in FATA without killing innocent women and children? Can we move beyond the ‘drone’ dragnet that’s stifling solutions to save us from the Taliban?
Otherwise, let’s drone on!
What we need is a war room at the PM House, open 24/7 to the anti-terrorist experts manning it. I know most of you will scream out if I dare suggest that we follow the formula Israel has adopted to stop suicide bombings. Yes, they have the latest weaponry and the most sophisticated intelligence systems, but they have trained their people to fight terrorism like professionals. We can train our special force that Rehman Malik promises to raise with 21st century warfare. America will be happy to host the training and provide us the wherewithal. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Will it compromise our sovereignty? No way!
Meanwhile, the seating plan at the presidency needs a makeover. It doesn’t look proper for the president of a starving nation to be on the throne like Emperor Haile Selassie holding audience with guests crammed on leather loveseats on either side. Flanking the president are two portraits of his wife along with giant flags of Pakistan and the presidential emblem. All know he’s the president; he doesn’t have to remind himself.
The writer is a freelance journalist with over twenty years of experience in national and international reporting. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org