Written By: Muhammad Azeem
Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad aims at cleansing the society from the menace of terrorism and uprooting the terrorists’ sympathizers, facilitators and remnants. This noble cause would need comprehensive and wholehearted participation of the society to achieve the desired end state. Operation Zarb-e-Azb, launched in June 2014, has already achieved significant successes in fight against terrorism in North Waziristan in particular and the FATA and other parts of the country in general. With the clearance of the Shawal Valley, the last stronghold of terrorists in North Waziristan Agency, Operation Zarb-e-Azb reached its culmination, though the terrorist threat has transited to our urban areas with implicit support of few elements of the society and full backing of foreign intelligence agencies. In order to counter the threat which is imbedded in the public and lies beyond the police capacity, Radd-ul-Fasaad is the way forward to stabilize the security situation. As stated by ISPR, operation Radd-ul-Fasaad will be jointly conducted by Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, Rangers and other Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), focusing on the ingress of the terrorists in the society. Scope of such a large operation demands active public participation to achieve the desired results. Systematic inclusion of society in this endeavour of national significance would be of paramount importance.
During pre-partition era, the British established a well-orchestrated system of public participation in running state affairs. In comparatively settled areas, Zaildar and Lumberdari system was established for revenue collection and their appointments were also used in extending the writ of the state to the far flung areas. Village headman was de-facto state representative in the village. While dealing with the tribal society particularly in Balochistan, the British invoked the most powerful institution of Sardars and Nawabs. These tribal heads were assisted by an elaborate mechanism at every tier of tribal society, starting from the Nawab to the Chief of tribe, Muqadam, Mir, Wadera and finally, till the lowest tier of Sirtakery (village headman). Levies Force was authorized to them for enforcing the state writ within their tribal jurisdictions.
After independence, these local community based institutions lost their importance due to lack of state patronage. Politically motivated local government system could not replace this very effective lowest tier mechanism of governance, however, the potential benefits of such a system should not be lost especially in an environment demanding security consciousness. Based on my experience of serving in Balochistan and FATA, there is a vacuum of governance at the grassroot level through community participation. The proposed system shall replace the colonial system of community participation in governance and help in establishing the writ of the state. Proposed system should be fine-tuned in the existing local government system with least financial effects. This will help achieve the objectives of operation Radd-ul-Fasaad and make the gains sustainable in the long term. As envisaged, neighbourhood communities shall be created and registered at street/mohallah/village levels comprising 10-40 houses. The clusters of neighbourhood should be grouped under Ward Councilor in the existing local government system and the tier of Ward Councilor improved to include the security aspects. In addition, National Guards formed under 1973 Act, shall also be integrated in this concept.
In this concept, neighbourhood refers to a small community (10-40 houses) which is living in the same contiguous locality. The residents of this community may or may not be relatives or from the same ethnic or sectarian/religious background. Every neighbourhood member/house shall register with their mutually nominated elder. Neighbourhood elder should maintain the complete profile of his neighbourhood and record any changes within his community. He should report to his Ward Councilor in case of any unusual happening which is not in line with the NAP or government policy laid down from time to time.
Responsibilities of neighbourhood elder should include maintaining profile of his neighbourhood community and submitting monthly report to his Ward Councilor for any change in profile. As the system matures, various phone applications can be developed for updates. He should also report any unusual happening in his neighbourhood to the authorities. Every house of the neighbourhood should be registered with neighbourhood elder and each house should have the following tag on his house gate:
The proposed system will help in extending the writ of the state. Neighbourhood elder, being part of the community, can keep an eye on his neighbourhood. Any unusual happening leading to an act of terrorism/human-induced disaster involving people from his neighbourhood should make him answerable to the state apparatus. LEAs will have an established contact person (neighbourhood elder) in each neighbourhood. Any household which refuses to abide by the laid down policy would be liable to questioning by the LEAs.
In the cities, neighbourhood community may not be homogeneous and may resist registration. Therefore, legislation and motivation by local leadership/LAEs will be required to make them part of this system. Ethnic/sectarian division in the society may also impede the implementation of this concept. Proposed system must ensure that special provisions are made to ensure protection of vulnerable members of the society/neighbourhood. Neighbourhood elders should be made responsible for ensuring safety of vulnerable community members living in his jurisdiction.
Structure of Proposed System
Implementation of this concept should involve the local community in sharing their responsibilities toward establishing the writ of the state. LEAs will be facilitated and chances of incidences like Osama Bin Laden compound going unnoticed will be minimized under the proposed system. As a pilot project, proposed concept can be introduced in Tehsil Kalar of District Rawalpindi. Being constituency of the current Interior Minister, implementation of concept is likely to be facilitated.
The writer is a Disaster Management scholar.