Now the present rulers have accepted for the first time that terrorism existed in Pakistan before 9/11. This means that the 9/11 attack has been planned and executed from Pakistan. Now similar plans are being made and being executed by terrorists, who are enjoying full support of the rulers. Here the question arises why these people are indulging themselves in terrorism? The simple anwser to this question is that they have been earning dollars through terrorism.
The information minister on Tuesday referred to a series of terrorist attacks on the lives of two former prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, in the 90s (much before the 9/11 happened) to establish that this was very much Pakistan's own war.
The in-camera session was held here on Tuesday at the Parliament House in which Information Minister Sherry Rehman briefed the MPs about the three-pronged policy of the government on Fata which includes dialogue with those who lay down weapons, economic and social development of the tribal areas and military operation against militants which would be exercised as the last resort and would continue till the objectives are achieved.
Benazir Bhutto's revelation in her last book "Reconciliation - Islam, democracy and the West" was also referred to in the briefing to show how a plot was hatched by the militants to murder her during a visit to Clifton, Karachi, to prove that the terrorists had started targeting the Pakistani leaders much before 9/11.
Top level sources said the bomb attack on former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on his way to his residence in Raiwind during his second tenure was used by the Information Minister Sherry Rehman to convince the MPs of the PML-N that the terrorists had started to target the political figures much before the current war on terror began.
The purpose of this reference was to make PML-N MPs realise that they also needed to understand that at one stage even their own leader was the target of attack by these militants. The sources said the PPP government also wanted to tell PML-N MPs that it was wrong to assume at this stage that only the attacks on the twin towers brought Pakistan in the forefront of the war against terror.
One source claimed that dramatic change in the tone of the PML-N on Tuesday, after attending the briefing, also had something to do with the very fact that Sherry Rehman reminded its MPs that they should not forget how their own leader had narrowly escaped a bomb attack. One militant group had accepted the responsibility of attacking Nawaz Sharif.
The sources said Sherry gave a very impressive briefing to the parliamentarians, presenting a long list of terrorist attacks, which established that Pakistan had become victim of terrorism even in 1993 when a plot to kill Benazir Bhutto in Karachi was hatched by some terrorist organisations.
She said the terrorists were out to destroy Pakistan much before the Americans attacked Afghanistan. In this regard, she mentioned the names of Ramzi Yousuf, Amel Kansi and others who were operating in Pakistan but were later arrested and handed over to the Americans.
The present rulers are themselves responsible for terrorism. Can they be able to control this menace? The tribesmen, who have been killed and maimed in large number now have no confidence in Pakistani rulers. These corrupt rulers cannot control terrorism. Though they are posing to the world that they have been working for enacting law for the areas, but practically they have still been supporting terrorism.
"We cannot rein wild horses with silken braids," wrote John William Kaye, secretary of the political and secret department of the India Office, justifying the special set of laws he helped draft to control the unruly tribesmen of Fata. Modernity may finally have caught up with the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) though. A report in this paper on Monday revealed that a federal cabinet committee has recommended "drastic changes" in the FCR. While this is a step down from Prime Minister Gilani's pledge to repeal the FCR, the proposed changes go some way in blunting the worst effects of these draconian laws.
For one, it has been recommended that the power of the political agent--whose decisions were constitutionally shielded from judicial review--be pared down. The recommendations have not gone so far as to suggest that the constitutional ouster of the jurisdiction of the high courts and the Supreme Court be amended. However, it has been suggested that a three-member tribunal, with high court-like powers and consisting of members familiar with tribal administration, be set up to review decisions of political agents or district coordination officers. Moreover, it has been suggested that if the parties to a civil dispute agree, the matter should be settled by a council of elders, albeit one selected by the political agent. These compromises should go some way in curbing the most persistent criticism of the FCR: that the political agent is a power unto himself. The second set of important changes that have been recommended focus on extending the constitutional guarantee of fundamental rights to the people of Fata. In addition, the political agent's right to arrest minors, women and the elderly under collective punishment rules will be curtailed. Again, a compromise straddling the dialectic of custom and statutory law has been mooted: the political agent will retain the right to arrest immediate male relatives of persons suspected in subversive acts against the state.
It appears then that the government has not been able to decisively break from the traditions of the past. There is some merit to the argument that given the security situation in the tribal areas, now is not the time to be experimenting with administrative codes that are untested. However, there is no doubt that a permanent solution to the crisis of militancy in Fata must include political and administrative reforms. One way of balancing the security needs of the moment with the genuine human rights demands of the tribesmen would be to issue a firm timeline for the process of fully incorporating the tribal areas into the political and administrative mainstream of the country. If we expect the tribesmen to give up the ways of their ancestors, we must be ready to hand them the protections of modernity.