Giving Sharif Space

By Jahanzeb Khan


I have been listening to various think tanks, intellectuals and political analysts over a period of months, especially since this new government took charge, about what should be this administration’s priorities over what it should deliver in the first 100 days. These rapid suggestions and blame games confuse the common masses as to what is actually the issue or what it is that needs to be fixed.

We have been witnessing a barbaric outbreak of terrorism from all sides ever since this government took charge and sometimes feel feeble in countering them with an iron fist.  Unfortunately this government does not have people like the former federal Interior Minister, with his expertise of knowing things beforehand, or the former provisional interior Minister (Sindh), who is famous for his prophecies about when and from where the ‘game’ begins.

On the other hand, this government has landed on the throne of power and went into severe deliberation over power crises, energy resources, financial budgets, readjusting irregular appointments, electing the Leader of the House, taking onboard political parties for the Presidential appointment, civil military hardline relations, dealing with India and yes, terrorism is still at large. Regrettably, most of our news channel heroes, political gurus, think tank intellectuals and social media exponents ponder that the government is not interested in dealing with and delivering the top most national issue, i.e. the National Security Plan.

I have been in conversation with a few critics from time to time, and have also been hearing them speak non-stop about “what the government must deliver by now or what should be government’s first priority”. Most of them, rather all of them were on the same page, i.e. “NSP” (National Security Policy) ever since the D.I. Khan Jail break occurred. I went through two articles of a renowned journalist and political analysts in a local prominent newspaper regarding the same subject taking the government to the cleaners for not introducing its security policy.

In my opinion I believe that NSP is undoubtedly one of the most important policy documents to be crafted and implemented but NOT the top most to get the full attention.  In my estimation I believe that it’s wise to cure the root cause of the disease rather than dealing with the aftermaths of it, and the root cause is the poor and dummy foreign policy engineered by those who are not related to it.

But the good thing is that PM Sharif has taken it seriously this time, and hence in his recent address to the nation he has spoken liberally on crafting and planning an effective foreign policy.  I believe that we must rectify, reshape, re-craft and utterly revisit our foreign policy. We may even need to terminate pacts and deals that Pakistan has signed over a period of 66 years. We need to understand what most urgent parts of our foreign policy require redressal, and we need to judge and be certain about who our friends and foes are. We need to understand whom we trade with, and we should align our focus towards sharing resources, trade, intelligence and talent.

But what is vital is that we must first decide mutually who gets to craft the new, redefined foreign policy. In the past our establishment has been taking an active part in crafting the foreign policy, whereas the intellectuals, government, and seasoned foreign diplomats were standing by the sidelines. This must change. The parliament is the will of the people and should be entirely responsible for crafting policy in collaboration with seasoned diplomats, the government, parliament and the military establishment as well.

However I do not overrule the idea of the NSP. The United States’ NSP comprising includes an effective Homeland Security framework, which consists of a rapid deployment force and counter terrorism task force working efficiently and effectively. The US NSP is an institution in itself and is governed by their foreign policy.

In my opinion if we start thinking this way, we would no longer be in need of any security policy. We should be firm and obvious that our neighbors are our friends and allies; that they are our trade partners, they are our resources, information, intelligence and talent sharing partners by introducing new lanes of business and economic opportunities, by introducing a resource sharing management framework which includes power, energy and mineral resources. We should introducing sea ports, highways across the country, railway lines spread across and fly zones, attracting business opportunities and establishing economic zones for foreign investors and cheap electricity by different modes of power generation resources. Imagine what heights of employment, economic strength, rise in GDP, new business ventures and strong intelligence sharing we could achieve, enabling us to be the Asian Elephants with tigers to protect all over.

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