Shadow Whispers by Shazia Haris
Islamabad is a peculiar and weird city which somehow looks more beautiful as shadows of evening draw down on it especially near the Margalla hills, unfortunately where most of the power corridors are situated in form of houses and offices, a combination of shadows and natural beauty says a lot.
With two shrines of prominent Saints, Bari Imam and Pir Mehr Ali of Golra Sharif at both upper and lower end of the city, some historian’s claim that the city was predicted by one of the saints centuries ago. The prediction was about a city to be build at this place in the name of Islam, off course the prediction did not include the liquor bottles and mujras in parliament lodges of Islamic Republic as claimed by Jamshaid Dasti whose shadowed conscience recently started it’s journey on the righteous path. If you move around there are numbers of shrines right from Islamabad to Rawalpindi giving strength to the belief that since, Pakistan came into being on 27th of Ramadan, it’s a gift of God well protected by shadows and prayers of Sufis and Saints.
It was a sunny morning and we were having usual morning conference, and a number of advertizing companies were invited to present their proposals for making a documentary focusing the journey from devastation of earthquake 2005 to rebuilding the cities of Kashmir and KPK. Suddenly the modern lady who was making a presentation for her company suddenly said, “You know Hazrat Bari Imam has predicted Islamabad to be destroyed by a devastating earthquake”. Quietness filled the formal room and suddenly the chair replied in anger “We Pakistani’s are a strange nation, we go to Mecca, and in front of the house of God we ring Pakistan and tell our relatives to go and say salaam to Data Sahib shrine in Lahore, even right in front of God we need some Saint for our prayers to be answered!”. The last sentence had left an imprint in my mind and today when all the channels are discussing the internal security policy, one does tend to think who was actually taking care of this piece of land for years?
Since 30th Jan when APP news quoted Minister for State for Interior and Narcotic Control Baleegh-Ur-Rehman regarding possibility of unveiling of the National Security Policy in National Assembly, anxiously media waited for the D-Day.
The moment I read the minister ‘s statement that it had been prepared in record five months time having two parts, one “Secret” the other “Strategic”, shadows of doubt started dancing around, smiling, and asking how was the Prime Minister of Pakistan going to share his Country’s National Internal Security Policy with international media when it had a declared Secret part! Some how the word secret does not go well with the word Policy, its use in a policy document which is proudly to be shared with the world is as distasteful as having sushi with custard.
It was the mere word secret that awoke the shadows to life and who prepared this policy was the first question?
May be a team of few hand picked favorites taken on lease from other departments with shades of paranoia to hide things from your own people meaning they were actual breed of this feudal mindset?
Or untrained juniors who would with expertise cut and paste the paragraphs from already approved policies?
Or may be really people lack skills to evaluate the internal security and lay down a policy?
That reminded me of my own situation years ago when for six months I could not understand the difference between background and literature review while writing papers in a gora land. It seems the team who prepared this policy also needs to understand the basic difference between POLICY and STRATEGY. Policy is a simple short document written in easy language and clear words, no hard English to impress others, laying down the aims and objectives, priorities and areas that need to be tackled for internal security of a country, applicable to whole of the country. It identifies areas that might be in future, or are at present real security threat within the borders, any outside influence that could fuel internal security problem, with an overall statement to tackle it.
Strategy, however, is a long document clearly identifying operational, strategic and secret ways to tackle the identified problems and ensuring achieving goals laid down by the Policy document. Strategy need not be discussed with public, however, the Policy is supposed to be a public document. Apparently those who have seen the full document say it’s a 100 page document with lots and lots of Annexure! So does it remain secret any way…the shadows smile, and what if some crazy Pakistani goes to court wanting the document under Freedom of information Act, after all its her or his life government is making a policy about?
The shared eleven pager document on Internal Security has the starting sentence “the first ever Internal Security Policy” great start. So after all we are trying to take charge of the security of the land and do away with the shadows and prayers.
Though a step in the right direction it needs a right hand to rewrite it, as the Prime Minister will be mentioning it every where as one of the achievements of PMLN. Though the 100 page document is not available, may be because of the secret portion is not to be shared with an illiterate nation, however, it needs to be kept in mind that no country can achieve internal security goals without its masses.
It seems the Policy presents NACTA as a remedy, NACTA in other words to be Hajmola of a house hold, curing headache, stomach ache, bad feeling or any symptoms that just don’t feel right, in other words they will do miracles and they will be blamed by the end, as me and you are out of it. What it has done is generate a negative debate in media, for something actually good done by the government, some claiming government is wanting to make another ASF of Bhutto, which is not the case as one thing that needs to be appreciated is that Mian Nawaz Sharif has actually grown much wiser than is opponents are able to assess, and its first time that civilian control seems to be working, may it be a Shakespearean scene, its any way being well played.
The global world today adopts winning hearts and mind strategy highlighting other ways to win wars instead of physical fighting. While opening doors to non physical methods to invade a country and start non violent plus violent demonstration as a weapon to over throw a government, it demands a new look at countering internal security issues than simply raising new departments. Like it or not Pakistan is no exception being part of the global world, and will always be a victim to this undeclared war which will not happen on borders but within our borders. But the question is are we incorporating these factors in the policy for internal security and are we able to handle it, rather do we understand the complexity of psychological and mind warfare where aim is to disable the top decision makers decision making powers? Since the 100 page document is a sacred secret so can’t comment on it, however, the eleven page documents totally ignore it.
Analyzing the internal security situation in Pakistan over past ten years, as a common citizen, if one identifies hazards to security of Pakistanis and Pakistan, just a few threats that come to mind include; Natural disasters as non traditional security threat, i.e., inflow of foreign donor agencies and internal migration of populations, Cyber crime and Fraud, porous Borders, narcotics and drug mafia, land mafia, human trafficking, refugees, illegal occupation and kachi abadis (slums) , quasi military organizations and interprovincial harmony, cross border terrorism and infiltration, vulnerable groups hired that can be hired for creating a mess, sectarianism, out sourcing security to private guards, lack of mass awareness and media, housing societies and rentals.
Not to mentions gang wars and communication, judicial system and human rights with respect to earning an honorable living and access to basic amenities of life, safety of the important buildings like airports, hospitals, diplomatic buildings, colleges and schools and defense related buildings are also major issues. Oh forgot the shrines and mosques because after all the shadows are going to come for help…
Yes terrorism is a menace but just like one of the few mentioned and by stopping terrorism neither can I stop natural disaster, nor control birth rate to check population boom, nor can I stop Shia Sunni conflict which is any way a proxy war conveniently being fought on our land.
What we need to realize is that terrorism is a term which is not well defined and there is no universal definition for terrorism. However, the world agrees that any act of force that causes irreparable harm to lives of people or property due to conscious act of group of people who either want to impose their ideology on others, or want political, social, economic or political gain fall under the category of terrorism. But then, this is a full fledge field and can not be mixed with other internal security issues, for which NACTA should work and that too under the Prime Minister to keep it safe from becoming another white elephant working on whims of a group of job searching individuals as is the case with most of the authorities in Pakistan.
Profile of Shazia Haris
Educated from Government College Lahore, trained Clinical Psychologist, educationist and researcher has worked for over 25 years in government organizations. She served as Registrar Fatima Jinnah University and was the first Pakistani Women Researcher invited by Ministry of Japan to work in Higher education for females. Having numerous international publications, she has supervised nearly 100 research papers and thesis of master’s level. She represented Pakistan as Gender and IT expert at United Nations, UNCTAD meeting in Geneva.Having taught at University of Sydney, trained in advance data management courses (NSW) and advance training from Manhattan New York in effective media handling, writes on social and security issues. Her focus is on social psychological aspects of development and counter terrorism. She received commendation letter from the Prime Minister of Pakistan for effective media handling during 2006 and 2008. A mother of two sons, and wife of an eminent scientist who was awarded POP and Sitara-e-Imtiaz, left them in 2011 due to cardiac arrest, is a hawkish Pakistani woman.