Ig­nor­ing loop­holes

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Ah­san Kureshi

THERE is con­fu­sion as to how Shah­baz Taseer found his way home. Was his re­cov­ery a com­mend­able yet com­plex act of ef­fi­cient in­tel­li­gence and an equally mas­ter­ful play of se­cu­rity forces or was he sim­ply re­leased by his cap­tors, al­low­ing him to have enough money with him to have a roasted mut­ton af­ter be­ing paid a ran­som of, some say, 2 bil­lion ru­pees? He also seemed to have the num­ber of the con­cerned au­thor­i­ties. It was al­most a planned af­fair.

Usu­ally, I would have brushed th­ese de­tails aside and would have cel­e­brated the re­lease alone. How­ever, th­ese de­tails mat­ter. Just as the fact that Shah­baz was found in the coun­try's own prox­im­ity is of grave im­por­tance. Ear­lier, the rea­sons given by the sup­port­ers of the se­cu­rity agen­cies (and some se­cu­rity per­son­nel aswell) were mostly dom­i­nated by the claim the claim that Shah­baz was in Afghanistan.

Cross­ing the bor­der was not an op­tion. We were not Amer­ica and Afghanistan was re­ally, re­ally an­gry at us. So, ev­ery­one ended up not urg­ing the agen­cies to do more. The mat­ter was out of their hands. Or so it was force­fully im­plied.

Shah­baz was kid­napped in a black SUV in one of the most pro­tected ar­eas of La­hore. The whole city was even­tu­ally locked down in search for the black SUV. The said lock­down came very ef­fi­ciently. Hopes were high, un­til of course, the hopes turned out to be in vain. The black SUV was never found. Shah­baz had sim­ply dis­ap­peared; dis­ap­peared for the next 5 years.

Shah­baz has re­turned to us now and no one with even a tinge of emo­tional sym­pa­thy can deny that this is a big mo­ment; an in­cred­i­bly happy mo­ment. How­ever, as we cel­e­brate his re­turn, we should re­gret that Ali Haider Gil­lani is still some­where un­known. Will he too have the same fate as Shah­baz? Will he be re­turn­ing to us soon with a smile on his face that ex­hibits re­lief of the great­est mag­ni­tude? More im­por­tantly, why is Pak­istan a coun­try where there are Shah­baz's and Ali's in the first place? State and its in­fra­struc­ture act as se­cu­rity agents for the pop­u­lace. The govern­ment pro­vides se­cu­rity in the form of a political and bu­reau­cratic in­fra­struc­ture which seeks to guar­an­tee ci­ti­zen's rights. The courts guar­an­tee a per­son's right to jus­tice and fair­ness. The se­cu­rity agen­cies: the po­lice, the agen­cies, the army, all guar­an­tee the pro­tec­tion of the peo­ple. How se­cure does a com­mon Pak­istani feel in Pak­istan of to­day?

We have al­lowed our in­sti­tu­tions to be­come lazy due to the so­ci­etal ob­ses­sion on ei­ther be­ing ig­no­rant or un­con­cerned. This al­lows th­ese in­sti­tu­tions to rein­ter­pret facts and form con­ver­sa­tions and ver­sions of events that play into their ver­sion of re­al­ity. This also al­lows them to re­main lazy and in­ca­pable and not be blamed for it. The re­cent times of Pak­istan have seen nu­mer­ous such ac­counts.

From ab­surd dhar­nas, to ig­nor­ing of ju­di­cial com­mis­sion de­ci­sions on the model town car­nage or Badlia town re­port are ex­am­ples of the in­ca­pac­ity of the first two men­tioned state in­fra­struc­tures. As far as the se­cu­rity in­sti­tu­tions are con­cerned, we have seen a con­sis­tent show of the army and in­tel­li­gence's ca­pac­ity to pro­vide the ci­ti­zen the pro­tec­tion they have promised to them.

OBL's dis­cov­ery was and re­mains the most em­bar­rass­ing ac­count of Pak­istan's se­cu­rity agency's in­ca­pac­ity. This was fur­ther tainted due to the fact that chop­pers from an­other coun­try were able to pen­e­trate so deep into the coun­try, only a few hun­dred kilo­me­tres from the cap­i­tal and con­duct an op­er­a­tion peo­ple only be­came aware of af­ter it was done. Had the he­li­copter not mal­func­tioned and there was no de­bris, the whole OBL episode would have even been a dream.

APS, the worst scar on Pak­istan's to­tal his­tory was done in a school based within army con­trolled area. The school, bear­ing the Army in its name, was be­trayed at its most vul­ner­a­ble time. There was up­roar against the sit­ting pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments but no one re­ally pointed fin­gers on the in­sti­tu­tions that were sup­posed to in­ter­cept the in­tel­li­gence and pro­tect the school chil­dren. Ra­heel Sha­reef's ef­forts since are com­mend­able, there is no doubt about that. How­ever, there is deny­ing the fact that we only act when the house is on fire. We have be­come ad­dicted to our luck where we are able to kill the fire be­fore it con­sumes us whole. We might not be this lucky for­ever.

Re­turn­ing to and con­tin­u­ing on Shah­baz. It is im­por­tant that an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry is made as to how Shah­baz was put in the po­si­tion in the first place. The gaps in se­cu­rity that en­abled the kid­nap­pers to whisk away a mem­ber of one of the most in­flu­en­tial fam­ily in La­hore need to be ad­dressed. Sim­i­larly, the agen­cies need to be more ef­fi­cient and be able to pro­tect the com­mon Pak­istani man. If we con­tinue liv­ing in fear, we will re­main what we are, a dys­func­tional state and the world of to­mor­row, of the likes of Don­ald Trumps will not be kind to us.

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