So we had an APC in Peshawar to deal with the terrible tragedy of the school attack. And by the commentary following the APC it was largely successful especially for the incumbent government. Nawaz Sharif who has not looked like a Prime Minister for months now especially after the Dharna looked quite content and Prime Ministerial.
“The refrain of Parliament is the forum for dealing with state affairs” used often in the Dharna was forgotten and the APC was used to get Imran Khan into a room and use that occasion to develop the image of a “Prime Minister in charge.” Why not Parliament now?
Who was invited and why? Do they have security clearance? How were they chosen?The photograph of the APC shows that these questions were not clearly considered. It was left up to parties and indeed the clever people to wheedle their way in to photo ops to be seated at the table.
How was the meeting conducted? What kind of discussion took place? Was their a briefing by the Interior Ministry, the Army, Intelligence, few if any know. Most likely not. Indeed in such a large crowd with little serious whetting let us hope not.
It was clear by the opening remarks of the PM that there had been little preparation for the meeting. On a momentous occasion such as this the PM should have read a prepared statement that outlined some initial thoughts towards a policy to galvanize a meaningful discussion. Instead we got a few adlib meaningless remarks.
Was there an agenda? Policy options? Plans? We watched carefully for the PM press conference after the meeting so that we could hear a thundering momentous declaration. All we got was 'we all agree terrorism is a problem and we will now form a committee to give us a way forward'. It is easy to see that there was no agenda, no thought and no serious discussion.
No heads rolled. No marching orders given to the security forces to “bring back their heads”. No prices on heads of known terrorists. No curbs on the madrassaahs and the mullahs preaching violence. No summary process for dealing with terrorist cases. No implementation of harsh justice for the hate-mongers. No rollback of legislation and institutional developments that have brought us to this pass.
They put in place the usual commission made up of politicians to give us a plan with no expert back up.
Would it not have been better to give us a longer term commission made up of serous civil society intellectuals to give the nation a serious analysis of this immense issue.
911 commission comes to mind where several former politicians of stature combined with several intellectuals in a well funded process over 2 plus years to conduct hearings and investigations produce a report. Why can this not be done here. After all the issue requires deep analysis.
The meeting was however successful as most commentators and columnists were happy with this. Government got what it wanted a 'photo op' and an end to the criticism it was receiving. No wonder the PM was in a jovial mood despite the somber occasion and cracked a very bad 'point scoring' joke: “if I was not going to the hospital, I would be going to the Dharna with Imran Khan.” Yet he received no blowback from any of our pundits. But it was distasteful!
Surprisingly our parliament is not even scheduled to meet.
Then there are those who love to give our politicians an out by saying what can they do the decisions are with the army. Well with such unimaginative and unprepared leadership, let us be thankful that the army is there.
Well now we can go back to normal mega projects and borrowing which is what governance is to these people. No need to think, legislate or manage issues.
Judge for yourself what did we achieve in the APC!