On July 30, over 200 Talibans dressed in police uniforms broke into the Dera Ismail Khan prison adjacent to the troubled Waziristan region. It resulted in freeing over 300 inmates, including 35 high-profile militants. The prison, according to Pakistani authorities, was extremely well guarded and regarded as incapable of being stormed. Yet it happened. And that was no doubt owing to the infiltration of jihadi elements in the prison system and the collusion of some jail officials. This incident has perturbing implications. It establishes that al-Qaida-inspired Taliban militants have grown in strength and influence. Two weeks ago, suicide bombers attacked the local headquarters of the ISI in the northeastern city of Sukkur, reducing the complex to rubble and killing its local head Major Zeeshan Suddle. Over 40,000 Pakistanis, including 4,000 security personnel, have been killed in the past 12 years of the so-called war on terror.
The recent statements of Taliban’s reclusive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar are significant. He warned against keeping US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan after the coalition’s military mission ends next year, saying insurgents will fight on until all foreign soldiers go home. He stressed that even the presence of a small number of foreign troops would be considered a violation of Afghan sovereignty and vowed that Taliban fighters won’t disband their legitimate struggle so long as the occupation is still in place, regardless of material or political promises. Mullah Omar also called on members of Afghanistan’s security forces to turn their guns on foreign troops and to join the insurgency, raising the specter of insider attacks.
The jail break in Dera Ismail Khan is an instance of the specter of insider attacks. In my earlier musings, I had highlighted the necessity of enacting and implementing effective measures to ensure that no part of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falls in the hands of the Taliban. US military officials have testified before the Congress about the security, or the lack of it, of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and the threat posed by loose nukes, that is nuclear weapons or materials outside the government’s control. Pakistan authorities have all along asserted the safety and security of their nuclear arsenal. The recent developments, however, cast serious doubt about Pakistan establishment’s ability to secure its nuclear arsenal from infiltration by Taliban militants. The cumulative effect of these developments causes a serious worry about the Taliban gaining access to Pakistan’s N-arsenal. The apprehensions are not alarmist but real. These Taliban elements would not have the slightest compunction about targeting India along with the US and Israel with nuclear strikes. State sovereignty and international law are no doubt important. Survival of humanity is equally, if not more, important. Safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is of paramount concern and must be ensured by any means.
Regrettable Lack of Decorum: A regrettable phenomenon which has emerged is the utter lack of civility in public discourse, especially in parliamentary proceedings and debates. No doubt, debates have to be vigorous and hard-hitting to be effective, but decorum need not be jettisoned. Some of the speeches in Parliament remind me of Dr Johnson’s famous quip: “Sir, when a man has run out of arguments, he has recourse to abuse.” This did not happen during the early years of our parliamentary democracy which witnessed lively speeches and debates while maintaining basic decency. For example, the speeches of Shyamprasad Mukherjee and Pandit Nehru.
Regrettably, this lack of civility is also emerging in arguments in courts, including our Supreme Court. Apparently, a notion has developed that raising voices is essential for the successful outcome of a case. Our judges owe it to the dignity of the court and its proceedings to make it clear that law and logic, not lung power, are the indispensable attributes of dignified and effective advocacy.