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Monday, January 04, 2010

ANP’s clear stance

Daily Times Editorial: ANP’s clear stance

Seemingly beleaguered President Asif Ali Zardari could not but be pleased by the clear and unequivocal support to him by coalition partner Awami National Party’s (ANP’s) president Asfandyar Wali Khan. Addressing a press conference, Asfandyar said his party would not support any unconstitutional removal of President Zardari. He went on to question why the president was being asked to resign on moral grounds when nothing had been proved against him in the cases for which he was incarcerated for long years. As for the army chief, General Kayani, Asfandyar was certain that he would not derail democracy. Those seeking the president’s ouster, he said, should have recourse to the method for the constitutional removal of a sitting president, i.e. impeachment, for which the requisite votes were just not available in the electoral college. Asfandyar felt that all institutions should work within their constitutional framework, and all political forces should unite against the non-state actors referred to in the president’s speeches and who were responsible for the spate of terrorist outrages against the citizens of the country. He revealed some interesting and hitherto unknown details about how the party’s senior negotiators, Afrasyab Khattak and Mian Iftikhar Hussain were threatened by the presence behind them of two suicide bombers when the militants were exhorting them to sign the Swat peace accord. Despite not being in a position to refuse, the ANP saw the agreement unravel soon after because of the escalating intransigence of the militants, Asfandyar reminded us.

Ever since the Supreme Court’s verdict on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), this question about the proper ambit for each institution and the speculations about a possible clash between or amongst institutions have been doing the rounds. It is a line of thought that stubbornly seems not to be going away, despite assurances from the highest to the lowest that there is no clash going on. Even the prime minister felt constrained to state once again that there was no rift between the government and the army, let alone any other institution. He used the occasion of a visit to the families of martyred policemen to reiterate his government’s commitment tot the repeal of the 17th Amendment and the will and resolve to combat the terrorists’ agenda.

If the leader of the ANP and the prime minister’s reiterations were not enough, President Asif Ali Zardari too weighed in once again with a vow to fight internal conspiracies against democracy and external conspiracies against the country. These repeated assertions are understandable from the perspective that these leaders are trying to keep the public focused on the task at hand, i.e. the struggle against terrorism. But by now these repetitions are becoming a tad tiresome. What the people of this country want is action, not more words. So far at least, whereas they are on the retreat in Swat/Malakand and South Waziristan, the militants seem to have the better of the security forces in their bombing spree in the cities. Admittedly, built up large cities provide ideal cover for this kind of campaign, but protestations of helplessness on the one hand and vows to crush the terrorists on the other no longer satisfy. The government must act post-haste in bringing all the intelligence and security agencies under one roof if the struggle against terrorism is to have any chance of success. The National Counter-terrorism Authority must be empowered to coordinate the separate agencies in their efforts to gather and pool intelligence on the terrorist networks so that suicide and other bombers can be pre-empted before they embark on their deadly missions. Once launched, it is virtually impossible to stop a determined terrorist or human bomb. *\01\04\story_4-1-2010_pg3_1

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