Of Ego Trips and Terrorism By Lt. General (R) Ghulam Mustafa | PTI | Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

13 February 2017 appears to have faded from nation’s memory as indeed all other such days which took away so many precious lives. Instead we are now riveted on PSL Finals in Lahore as if its success will be the victory we have been promised all along. In a way, yes, it will be. For whom and to what degree, is a moot point. Organizers of the event and those entrusted with its security will have a well deserved sigh of relief once it is over. Those inconvenienced in the process of converting Lahore into fortress will also be pretty happy. Ruling Junta will have a field day taunting its opponents while the rest of us will get back to whatever we usually do. That is, if all goes well. Let us pray that it does. Alternative is too horrendous to even contemplate.

What would we have achieved? Will international cricket come back to Pakistan? Chances are quite minimal because those observing the whole thing would know the cost we have paid and the kind of investment we have made in men and material to achieve this success. They would also know that it cannot be repeated more often. Some of the foreigners involved in the league at UAE have already opted out as soon as the decision was announced. Our response is simple as it is self defeating. Chairman PSL and Chairman PBC seem to be on different frequency here. While the former claims that finalists will be represented by four foreign players each, of what caliber or quality is not known, the latter declared that we will make do with local players instead. Good enough. I am sure the contradiction in terms has not escaped the discerning readers. One off event with local players is not what has been promised to us. And if it is held by drafting new foreign players by paying them extra, the message will not be much different.

What about politics of it all? Punjab Government is in overdrive for the event. Hopefully it is all for the right reasons. Pessimists do not agree. Almost everyone agrees that this kind of enthusiasm was needed to fight terrorism in the first place. It would have saved lot of grief and silenced its critics from Sind, KP and media. Some label it as just another “optical illusion” aimed at muscle flexing to coincide with announcement of decision in Panama Leaks Case; pressure tactics already in play for quite some time now. Will be catastrophic if it is perceived to have worked in ruling party’s favor. Some reports about tickets being sold to carefully vetted party loyalists only, are also in the air with a view to ensuring ”security”. A bit of politics is not so bad if it were in the process. However, as the main objective, it will be as hollow as previous claims about its capability of being able to fight terrorism all by itself.

Army probably did not have a choice. Given a chance, it would have preferred to concentrate on Operation RADD UL FASAD, seeking to destroy JADD UL FASAD. It is now detracted and is focused on providing “foolproof security” for the event, whatever it means. Army should have advised government to desist from getting caught up in mere symbolism. It has maximum to lose. Alternatively, has Punjab Government, in concert with PCB, conned everyone into playing its well orchestrated game? To prove what? That it is in control and can be left to its own devices? Is it worth it, or even necessary in light of damning evidence presented to Prime Minister when he okayed country wide, coordinated sweep against terrorists as well as induction of Rangers to support Punjab Police, although with limited powers.

What about men in the deep, somewhere in New Delhi and Kabul overseeing handiwork of their puppets all over Pakistan? Wouldn’t they be justified in claiming to have brought State of Pakistan down to the level of few terrorists? Wouldn’t they be elated to find the state caught up in its own fears? That, by converting Lahore into a fortress employing its very best, for one odd event, it has accepted sort of defeat against “terror”? Terrorists don’t know defeat. Victory for them is when terror grips the target. Haven’t we played right into their hands? Master puppeteer doesn’t have to do anything except laughing his guts out at the sorry picture we make right now. Our political elite cannot decide how to punish declared terrorists and is at odds over almost every aspect of war against terrorism. Is probably unaware about the nature of war. Has yet to formalize threat perception and broader parameters of our response mechanism. Appears oblivious about dangerously widening gap between us and terrorists. Politics is their only concern. On its part, government has failed to provide requisite leadership to combat the menace it claims to be its No1 Priority, is more interested in optics of being in “control” ,remains steadfastly sluggish in all its endeavors except mega projects and is going about solidifying its vote bank for next elections. One dubious notice articulated as “racial profiling” of a particular community, exposed our fragility and insensitivity like never before; as if existing fault lines weren’t enough.

Much that one wants to view PSL Finals in Lahore as a positive development, the arguments against it are overwhelming. Ego Trips have no place in normal circumstances. In a war, dubbed by many as the most dangerous because of its very nature, one offs shouldn’t even be under consideration. Let’s hope and pray that nothing happens from now till 5th March, and till eternity. What if ——–? And what if nothing happens? What would be our gain in substantial terms? Aren’t we just one terrorist strike away from fear trap? And aren’t we hog tied right now with very little freedom of action? No one should be in this situation, least of all those leading a nation in war of the kind we are fighting right now.

About the Writer::

Lt General Ghulam Mustafa is a Retired General of Pakistan Army, prominent TV personality. He does Defense and Political Analysis on TV/Newspaper.