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Pakistan Today Editorial – 15th May 2016

Helping Sindh police

Involving the army

The Sindh government’s decision to add a 20,000 strong, army trained, contingent to its police force is welcome. The backdrop is important. The Karachi Operation, despite coming under the microscope for a few reasons, has reduced everyday, and serious, crime to a large extent. And while Rangers displayed discipline and dedication, the Operation also revealed some of the police force’s limitations that have been public knowledge for a long time. That is precisely why this is the perfect time for such an initiative. Criminal networks are on the defensive. And since the police force needs to be upgraded, there could not be a better window.

Such initiatives need to be followed in other provinces as well, especially Punjab. Nobody needs reminding of how the Chotu incident recently exposed the Punjab police’s incompetence and also embarrassed the provincial government. Only days before had the CM proudly boasted that his province did not need a Karachi style operation since the police force was more than capable. Now, there’s a new reality to be confronted. The Operation will, sooner or later, come to Punjab. So the sooner the police goes to the army for Sindh style training the better.

Nobody seems to realise though – at least not the government – that this is a reverse arrangement at best. The army, usually, has no business policing cities. Even now it is only doing so because the police is simply incapable. The urban insurgency, at least, would not have grown this big if the police were up to the task in the first place. But since the army is doing the bulk of the work in this long war, it might as well also train the police. Sindh’s decision to beef up, all else remaining the same, is the right thing to do.

Pak-Us ties

A realistic appraisal

Pakistan-US relations have been a subject of controversy since Finance Minister Ghulam Muhammad, the arch advocate of free market economy in Pakistan, nudged Liaquat ali Khan to proceed to Washington ignoring the Soviet invitation. Subsequently the relations between the two countries passed several ups and downs. In early Ayub era it looked like a honeymoon. The anti-climax came when Ayub Khan decided to put an end to the Badaber CIA base and developed second thoughts about the utility of the Seato and Cento military pacts. Under Yahya Khan Pakistan was instrumental in helping Henry Kissinger hold US-China secret talks leading to the historic visit of Richard Nixon to Beijing in 1972. The relations deteriorated under Bhutto but revived again under Zia as the military ruler helped the US wage proxy war against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The jihad helped the US avenge its defeat in Vietnam though it left a highly negative legacy the country is still trying to cope with.

More recently Pakistan-US relations flourished under Musharraf. These came to a standstill however in 2011 because of Raymond Davis affair, Abbottabad Operation and Salala killings. Come 2013, and these witnessed an upward trajectory once again. Recently the relations have come under stress for thee reasons: the refusal by Pakistan to release Shakil Afridi, concerns raised by Washington regarding Pakistan’s expanding nuclear arsenal and the support avowedly provided by Rawalpindi to the Haqqani Network

A section of the super-patriotic media would like Pakistan to cut off all ties with the US, a position taken by a section of the religious parties also. But this is thoroughly unrealistic. The US remains Pakistan’s biggest trade partner and the country’s principal export direction. US scholarships to Pakistani students are of great value to the country. The US also remains a vocal supporter of democracy in Pakistan. While giving priority to Pakistan’ national interests, there is a need to maintain friendly relations with the US.

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