So we bleed again

27

Resilience is truly commendable but it hardly warrants sanity and wisdom. This is precisely what we, as Pakistanis, have been exhibiting to our own selves and to the entire world.

We have witnessed bloodbaths by holy monsters that were once created and fostered by our beloved state and its institutions. Year after year the tragedy and misery continue unabated – making us feel like headless chickens.

The Quetta carnage revives the memory of our defective resolve. Yet again, we see the same statements, stereotypical condemnations and some high-profile dash-downs. This is what our tragedies are reduced to.

The convoluted logic that we give to the entire world is that we are fighting and winning. But are we really doing enough to win this war? Are we actually winning this war?

Be it from the army or a civilian law-enforcement agency, my soldier is fighting an existential war to save this country from a domestically created enemy who not only enjoys support from within the country but is now getting some hefty handout from India and Afghanistan as well.

This soldier of mine knows no logic and reasoning. His slogan is to fight and fight till the very end. My soldier neither has the time nor the capacity to shape up the hideously misshapen narrative of my beloved country. But those with the capacity and capability – what have they done to mitigate the disaster?

We try to sell piety and play victim to the world’s most nefarious conspiracies but have we ever realised how we have wronged our own narrative? No, we haven’t.

Even after the loss of thousands of lives of not only innocent civilians but some star soldiers and officers, we still are too shy to do some serious soul-searching. Do we know why the world is not ready to believe us even after this huge emotional and physical damage?

Civilians blame the military for taking policy decisions on their own while the military establishment tacitly reminds the politicos of their ignorance and lack of understanding. Indeed, the irony is unmistakable. This is the time to go beyond the rhetoric and find answers to some fundamental questions.

What type of relationship do we intend to have with the countries in our neighbourhood? The answer should be clear, since our erroneous policies have cost us our fortune in the past. Are we ready to take on jihadi groups who have are present in different parts of our country? As of now, we aren’t involved in any proxy wars so we do not need such loose cannons around.

The state took a bold and a much-awaited step after the Punjab home minister’s assassination. But the state needs to do more to tighten the screw.

Another difficult but important question is: do we have any influence on the Afghan Taliban? If yes, then we need to bring them to the negotiating table with the Afghanistan government. If the answer is in the negative then we need to either oust the Afghan Taliban (Haqqani Network) or eliminate them.

It may not be as simple as a walk in the park but the worsening situation in Afghanistan will have a very heavy bearing on Pakistan. That is why a decision on this must come soon. The answers to all these questions are linked to a very important equation – civil-military relations.

This relationship has become hostage to turf wars and a distinct divide – something that needs to be changed.

The civilian and military establishments have to realise that any attempt to answer the above questions unilaterally will frustrate the entire exercise. It is time the two sat together and evolved a consensus; otherwise we will continue to bleed.