Force-multiplying in less than a decade under the most corrupt rulers in Pakistan’s history, corruption has surged to become an integral part of our daily lives. Whatever system is in place, corruption’s proceeds fuels organised crime, that funding is crucial for terrorism. The wording of the law notwithstanding, the superior judiciary must comprehend how to cope with this evil nexus funding organised crime and terrorism. How do the blatantly corrupt easily get bail before arrest at will from the higher courts? On the other hand the recent publication of a list of mega scams submitted by NAB points to belated judicial activism by the Supreme Court (SC) in a welcome move to go after the “untouchables”.
All transactions must be open for detailed public scrutiny in a democracy, this oversight is impossible without allowing elected local public representatives to function. It’s credibility of fair-minded objective reporting and analysis badly eroded, can most of the electronic or print media allow adverse facts to appear against those entities who are paying huge amounts for their advertisements or subverting the integrity of editors/ anchors/media owners? Turning democracy into a farce, this lack of accountability allows corruption to flourish. Widespread tax evasion fuels money-laundering as well as manipulating and monopolizing of financial markets.
The SC put in place a mechanism giving legal cover to the Rangers in Sindh in 2011, this led to capture of a large number of target killers. When the SC interest inexplicably waned, the situation went from bad to worse in Karachi. Why did the SC stop its intervention? With NRO declared a black law, how did its beneficiaries keep functioning as our rulers? Consider Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah’s recent statement decrying NAB and FIA targetting corruption in his administration, why should anyone interfere with such malfeasance being a part of life in his govt? And now this geriatric puppet-on-a-string is threatening to wreck the peace in Karachi by removing the Rangers if they do not stop targetting the corrupt. How does one come to terms with one’s conscience and the responsibility to the citizens in failing to uphold the basic tenets of the Constitution?
Militant gangs using the cover of politics for their lucrative “businesses” promoting organized crime. Terrorist groups cannot be destroyed without striking major blows at sectors funding and supporting their criminal activity. Profit and greed have replaced ideology as the main motivation for some terrorist groups. Huge funds derived from corruption are being channeled into three concentric spheres supporting terrorism. Money provides terrorism necessary logistics e.g. explosives, hideouts, travel and the search and observation of soft vulnerable targets, etc. The inner-most circle consists of terrorists surrounded in their turn by a second wider circle of direct supporters, planners, commanders, religious personalities, etc, i.e. the terrorism infrastructure. The conduct for utilizing this money is organized crime. The third circle is of religious, educational and welfare organizations, this includes business establishments, financial institutions and media houses, laundering money through inflating their expenditures and manipulating information to deter the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) by defaming them. The tragedy is that our “democratically” elected rulers have now openly came out in favour of not only allowing corruption but also decrying those having the effrontery to question this daylight robbery.
A symbiotic relationship notwithstanding, all terrorist acts are not organized crime, neither are all criminal acts terrorism. Organised crime has the capacity to provide explosives, reconnaissance and transportation, thriving in most developed countries with little or no terrorist activities. The sophisticated façade and charm of a family man, suave, well educated, well dressed politician, businessman, industrialist or banker, etc who is the toast of society and member of prestigious clubs, may camouflage the capacity for evil in funding organised crime, in turn facilitating terrorism. Modern terrorists thrive oncallous deeply-imbedded pillars of society with deep pockets.
The civilized world believes that they can enforce the rule of law in a totally lawless environment. No country has a law against cannibals eating citizens because such an act would be unthinkable, but it is time the world brings the unthinkable into the statute books. In his dissertation on the rule of law, Haim Harrari says, “No doubt that civilized society can be strait-jacketed with limitations, but in questioning these limitations, one can always find likely answers?” Can a government listento phone conversations of terrorist and drug dealers? With intelligence agencies frequently listening to private conversations without official sanction, why not? Can one raid a church, mosque or synagogue, serving as a terrorist hideout or ammunition storage? If with sanctity of these religious places of worship compromised, can they be called sacred? If a hospital or a mental hospital is used as sanctuaries or children as human shields, do you return fire? Do you strip every woman because one pretended to be pregnant and carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Can you dismiss a govt which openly protects the corrupt? To prevent innocents from being murdered and sustain peace of mind of our citizens, why not?
Our LEAs must have the ability to, viz (1) detect people organized in terrorist activity, identifying them, and monitoring their movements whoever they are (2) detect the money trail and the supply sources of explosive materials (3) mobilize one’s defense and conducted intelligence capability to recognize and counter specific threats, utilizing both human and electronic intelligence (4) focus means of mass transportation as potential terror targets (5) guard the country’s frontiers (6) target those giving sustenance to the perpetrators, including funds meant for charity and creating adverse perception for the LEAs, etc. Besides draining the country of its precious foreign exchange reserves, terrorist funding comes through foreign exchange dealers and “havalas”. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) must set aside arcane rules and quickly activateelectronic means to accurately document transactions of inward foreign remittances that can dent, if not eliminate, the “havala trade”.
During a recent SC hearing Justice Azmat Saeed Shaikh remarked, “it seems govt has sympathy for the terrorists, why the National Action Plan (NAP) is not being implemented so far?” unquote. The unfortunate hometruth is that NAP has to overcome administrative, social and economic hurdles for implementation in an environment where corruption and organized crime are not only deep-rooted but has powerful mentors in and out of govt.
Understanding the concept of “clear and present danger” annunciated by US Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, the superior judiciary must save our society and the country functioning according to the spirit of the law and not strictly adhere to the wording of law. — The writer, retired army officer, is a leading defence and security analyst.
Corruption, Organised Crime & Terrorism