EDITORIAL: Condemnation that merits concern - Sunday, March 20, 2011

Source : http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\03\20\story_20-3-2011_pg3_1

The sudden release and departure of Raymond Davis, the
deadly drone attack in Datta Khel and the harsh criticism that has been voiced by the highest echelons of the land; this certainly has been an eventful time in Pakistan. Of all these, the event that baffles the most is the tremendous amount of concern and objections that are emanating from the highest offices in the land after the Datta Khel drone strike where, reportedly, some 40 tribal elders were killed. The Foreign Office (FO) summoned the American Ambassador, Cameron Munter; he has been told that the US should not take Pakistan “for granted” nor should it treat the country as a client state. The FO has made it clear that Islamabad expects nothing less than an apology from Washington. In an unexpected outburst, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani condemned the attack by calling it “a complete violation of human rights”. Prime Minister Gilani followed suit by saying that the attack was unacceptable. Not just limiting their condemnation to mere words, officials in Islamabad have announced that Pakistan has pulled out of an upcoming trilateral meeting with Afghanistan and the US scheduled for next week. It is because of all these actions that we find ourselves once again asking: why now?

FATA, which is a part of Pakistan, has been at the mercy of drone strikes for quite a few years now, with a death toll of over 2,000, and never before have we heard even a whimper of protest from the government (cosmetic condemnations notwithstanding), the army or our intelligence establishment. Never before have we seen Pakistan being audacious enough to pull out of a meeting with the US (the last trilateral meeting saw the US pull out because of the Davis affair). Never before has the Pakistan Army positioned itself as a champion of human rights like it has now. So why the change of stance? If insider reports are to be believed, the target of the drone strike was not as innocent as some would have us believe. It is being said that a commander of the Haqqani network was among the dead in this strike. Yes, there was some collateral damage but, apparently, there were significant militant deaths also. Datta Khel is a known Taliban hub in North Waziristan, a place that has, so far, not been touched by the Pakistan Army.

It is common knowledge that drone attacks cannot be coordinated effectively without the active involvement of Pakistan’s intelligence establishment. It is also no secret that there may be targets that the US is keen to obliterate but is not given the help (and go-ahead) they need from an establishment that has made clear differentiations between what it deems as good Taliban and bad Taliban. Could it be that the loud condemnations are due to the fact that this strike was carried out without the establishment’s green signal? Could it be that the US, finally sick and tried of the dual policies of the establishment, have decided to go it alone when it comes to effectively rooting out the militants? Could it be that our military/intelligence system has been left out in the cold by a US that is now on the warpath? These are questions that cannot go unanswered. It is plain to see that Islamabad and the army have over-reacted to a situation they should have been condemning right from the beginning but did not.

It would be foolish of us to think that the Americans will feel differently towards the war on terror after the Davis release. Their only objectives are rooting out militancy and terror and they will do it with or without our help. Pakistan has not triumphed in the Raymond case. It will not triumph until it drops its support for the Afghan Taliban — the prime US target. It is time we see these over-reactions for what they may very well be: condemnations by the increasingly isolated. *

SECOND EDITORIAL: DMG: privileged in bureaucracy

The police arrested more than 77 government officials, including the Provincial Management Service Association’s (PMSA’s) office-bearers, who had gathered at the Punjab Civil Secretariat (PCS) to protest against the arrest of two section officers, Rana Ziaullah and Imran Sial. Those arrested included female officers, gazette officials, magistrates, sections officers, deputy secretaries and additional secretaries of provincial prime cadre. More than 700 officers came out to protest against the arrest of the two section officers. Mr Ziaullah and Mr Sial were arrested when they were distributing pamphlets calling for a strike on March 21 to protest against the illegal and unconstitutional Inter-Provincial Co-ordination Committee (IPCC) formula under which the District Management Group (DMG) has appropriated almost all the top positions of the province. They were detained for two hours.

It is quite surprising the way the Punjab government and the top order of the bureaucracy handled this issue. It is the democratic right of all citizens of Pakistan, including the civil services officers, to hold a peaceful protest. This right is enshrined in our constitution. Instead of addressing the grievances of the PMSA officers, arresting two section officers and later arresting more than 77 government officials does not make any sense and only shows the heavy-handedness of our authorities. Had the authorities allowed a peaceful protest, surely the heavans would not have fallen. Our authorities need to realise that suppressing dissent causes bad blood and is not the right way to go about handling such issues.

There is no doubt that the DMG is indeed hogging most positions in the country. The PMSA statement said that due to the IPCC formula, “a total of 800 DMG officers are usurping 65 percent posts of grade 21 in the provinces while more than 4,000 provincial officers have been given only 25 percent posts”. These statistics seem to be genuine and the Punjab government should examine them. Why is the DMG being given so much special treatment at the cost of creating anarchy in the bureaucratic circles? Favouritism is not good in any walk of life, be it personal or professional. The government should listen to the complaints of the PMSA officers and find a solution to this issue for a smooth running of the bureaucracy. *

No comments:

Post a Comment