Revitalizing the National Action Plan

By Sadia Kazmi

The National Action Plan (NAP), which came out on December 24, 2014 as a result of a heinous massacre of school children in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 was even though a delayed action but a right one in the right direction. Since the very beginning its success depended upon the commitment and dedication of the civil and military leadership.

Hence it was witnessed that the All Parties Conference was attended by all and sundry, including the opposition parties, political parties in the government, and large number of military leadership too. From the onset it carried positive vibes about its purpose and the fact that it was unanimously being pursued by all the stakeholders, gave it a positive thrust. The 20 points agenda was approved in the meeting, which was indeed a well thought-out blue print identifying the main areas of trouble that were undermining the internal security of the state. It was being expected that same commitment would continue for the prime purpose of rooting out the menace of terrorism and extremism from the society, and eventually to establish the writ of the state.

However after much positive and hopeful beginning, the further development on the plan is still lacking. The impetus that it was expected to gain, was somehow lost on the way and now after almost 2 years one doesn’t see much deliverance on the 20 points agenda deliberated upon in 2014.

The fact that the civil-military equation on various matters has always come in clash with each other, was even though not that obvious in this particular matter, but the force with which military had taken up this cause was seen missing on part of civil leadership. There are also some instances where one sees that the civil leadership expressed some reluctance in adopting a stern stance against the extremist organizations and the convicts. This very dimension did cause a major slowing down of the progress on materialization of set milestones. The establishment of military courts did compensate the slackness of civil leadership, but it did require renewed pledge by the civil leadership too.

At the same time even though the “problem areas” had sufficiently been identified but they were not supported by any framework as to how to go about achieving those goals. Probably the involvement of army was being seen as “delegation of responsibility” instead of “sharing of responsibility”, a thought that needs to be reviewed.  One can also point out another very important area which is required for the successful achievement of NAP goals and that is the civic responsibility. There is an ever growing need that the civil society takes utmost care in curbing down extremist sentiments. It should refrain from getting involved and showing sympathies to the factors which invoke sectarian and ethnic rifts. Also there is a need to indoctrinate people in this regard so they could readily condemn any such instances. This could be done through responsible role of media. Regular programs and shows should be relayed on religious harmony. Pakistan’s diverse ethnic and cultural richness could be telecasted on regular basis so that the people should feel connected cross culturally.  The role by military leadership by conducting operations like zarb-e-azb will be complimented and supported immensely by a parallel measures taken through soft policies.

Having said all that, it was high time that the NAP should have been revived. The meeting convened for the purpose of implementing the NAP is once again a right move. The body supervising the progress on NAP contains some high profile names and once again there is a lot of hope attached that it will finally deliver. It should not face the same fate as NACTA. Finally the political will is there and the supervisory committee should be able to make the goals meet. With the help of 29 new wings of the Frontier Corps for border management, a lot of suspicions cross border activities could be kept under check. At the same time process of mainstreaming the tribal areas is going to positively help in pacifying the grievances of locals against the government and its policies. The government also should realize that it doesn’t have to wait for tragedies in order to move ahead with progress on such projects. Previously Peshawar school attack became the reason and now the tragedy in Quetta which killed 75 people, finally was able to wake up the authorities from their slumber. A special emphasis should be given on making NACTA functional as is already outlined in the 20 points of NAP. Now is the time that the momentum should be maintained, so that the NAP doesn’t become just another document of 20 points which no body had clue what to do with.

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Sadia Kazmi

Sadia Kazmi works as a Senior Research Associate at the Strategic Vision Institute in Islamabad. She is a PhD candidate at the National Defense University

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