Archive for June, 2004
One of the things common about Pakistan and US has been brought to the surface by the 9/11 Commission, countries fighting the modern version of terrorism need to have far better quality of intelligence than available at present, this must be shared quickly and effectively with the units actually fighting on the ground. The prime requirement of today’s war against terrorism is timely “actionable” intelligence. The accountability inherent in any democracy means that the US is doing something about it, public hearings by a bi-partisan blue-ribboned panel has exposed the in-built weaknesses of the entire US intelligence apparatus. While the creation of a new “Homeland Security” Department have resulted in extensive reforms of the entire intelligence system and the observations of the Commission have force-multiplied these reforms, this process may well take several years. The major finding of the Commission was that while there was a proliferation of sporadic intelligence reports, “actionable” intelligence was not available in real-time. Moreover the intelligence reports crucially lacked the projected date, place and method of attack, the process of the jigsaw puzzle were spread over too many departments which were unwilling to share information due to inefficiency, ineptitude or simply inter-departmental jealousy.
As an important event, the Federal Budget has been overshadowed by rumours fast and furious that the Prime Minister’s crown on Zafarullah Khan Jamali’s head is wobbling precariously, his position being further undercut when PML President Ch Shujaat Hussain volunteered that there are about 50 potential PMs in the Federal Cabinet. Most political crisis in Pakistan take life with the motivated creation of a credibility gap (and widening thereof into mutual suspicion) between the Head of State and Head of Government. As matters stand today, and in the absence of an emphatic denial from Pervez Musharraf, Jamali’s exit is increasingly being proclaimed a fait accompli, even though Ch Shujaat and Pervez Elahi demonstrated a hand-holding photo-ops with the PM. This being Budget season, if something is likely to happen it may happen in July or later, certainly before the shuffling of the Army’s hierarchy in October. In the meantime Pakistan will continue to be subjected to (and buffeted by) rumours and speculation. What’s new?
There are signs that our rulers have started the process of making necessary adjustments in political compromises to secure this city from boiling over into disaster. Karachi’s civic services are normally stretched to the limit, if they are overwhelmed because of civil disturbances disrupting services, mass reaction will make society as we know disappear into a cauldron, not unlike that to which Mogadishu has descended. Ethnic and sectarian clashes are already not a matter of conjecture anymore, sporadic clashes have already taken place. Terrorists have cleverly manipulated the city’s schisms to their advantage. Immediate remedial measures are necessary to restore the rule of law to this great metropolitan city.
What a week, a low intensity explosion went off near a KPT gate followed next day by staggered explosions outside the PACC designed to inflict maximum casualties, rounded off within days by the assassination of Mufti Shamzai. The civil disturbances, including an attack on the Quaid Academy, to protest this horrible murder had not died down when a bomb went off in an Imam Bargah in the evening of May 31 off Karachi’s main arterial M A Jinnah Road, killing 18 and wounding countless others and setting off another chain reaction of violence in Karachi. The present spate of terrorism had started a fortnight or so earlier with the horrific suicide bombing in the Shia mosque in the Quaid’s alma mater Sindh Madrasatul Islam. Given the paralysis of government in Sindh, someone somewhere is playing a deadly game with Karachi’s future, we are rapidly sliding into anarchy. It goes without saying that this will seriously affect the country’s economy.