By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan

From its very emergence in 1947, till to-date, Pakistan is a country which remained in a crisis situation. There has been frequent eruption of the crises indeed, in a series; one after the other. However, despite its short life, enormity of threats, incoherent political system and the glaring issue of the good governance, comparing with many of the countries, Pakistani nation deserve appreciation for managing these crises most efficiently. The term crisis means a situation, which has threatened, or threatening to harm people, property, institution/ organization or country as a whole. It may be attributed to an unstable condition, as in political, social, or economic affairs, involving an impending abrupt or decisive change. As one goes deeper into the history of nations, it would be known that, a crisis is bound to come from time to time. However, “the only way to prevent the same type of crisis from happening again is to learn from it, to debrief after the crisis is over, to understand the root causes behind the crisis, and to take steps to keep them from recurring.”

Nevertheless, the most significant factor is that how the nation and national leadership behaves during and after the crisis. Do they lose control or remain cool to prudently respond to the situation as warranted. For example, the crisis faced by Pakistani nation during the devastating earthquake of 2005, energised and united the people and the leadership to tackle the event as a challenge to face with and come out successfully. Leaving their personnel chores aside, the nation rose to face the challenge, fixed their clear goal; to rescue the affected people, provide them relief and later rehabilitated them on war footings. There was a mammoth international assistance to reinforce this national effort. However, the nation reacted as a whole and crises were handled efficiently. The primary and the most organised contributors; the armed forces of Pakistan got recognition for its astounding services both domestically as well as internationally. There was a repeat of the efforts during the 2010, floods, again an unparallel devastation in the history of Pakistan.  The nation once again stood to the test of the time. The lessons learnt from these crises are; to have a strategic and peripheral vision; to plan for the worst: a united national act: making up of institution to deal with such like crises in the future too and to derive maximum from the right people.

The nation once again confronted a similar type of the crisis situation after the unfortunate incident of Abbotabad raid to haunt OBL by United States Navy SEALs and later attacking PNS Mehran in Karachi, where two surveillance aircrafts; P-3C Orion were targeted by terrorists. As if these incidents were not enough, our adversaries, who were joined in by many domestic elements, put Pakistan and its security forces through a defaming campaign, indeed, worst of its kind. Unlike previous natural crisis, this manmade crisis has put the nation in an extraordinary situation and indeed in disarray. Indeed, the nation felt betrayed from a coalition partner, for whom, Pakistan has done a lot in its entire history. It is because of US that, today we have internal instability, weapon culture, falling apart social filament and indeed now a sense of insecurity. Besides, the country has suffered losses worth $ 71 billion.  

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In the garb of so-called global war on terror, Pakistani armed forces and in fact, the nation is at war since last one decade. Waging of this war was also to benefit the US. The nation stand justified in asking the question that, if this was the reward of what we did for US. Sabotaging the sovereignty and national respect through US actions has made the nation incensed and there developed a sense of absolute hatred among the nation for United States. As per US own assessment, there has drastic fall of US acceptance level in Pakistan ever since of this un-natural alliance took place in 1950s. The nation as a whole feels that, it is about time to say goodbye to this opportunist friend by re-aligning ourselves strategically and asking for a self-dependence.   Sabotaging the sovereignty of Pakistan has put a question mark on the future role of US and many other regional and global actors, who got an encouragement after this incident. Furthermore, the planned propaganda to de-fame Pakistani armed forces and its intelligence apparatus, especially the ISI by Western media and US has reached to a new height. In making the accusations, US State Department and Pentagon joined hands and badly polluted the global environment against Pakistan.  Regretfully, some of the Pakistani media apparatus took a lead from the US media and became its partner in this malevolence de-faming campaign as part of US deliberate agenda. Armed Forces of Pakistan and its premium intelligence agency, ISI are being repeatedly targeted.

All this deliberate media campaign is aimed at creating a wedge between the masses and armed forces. So much so, some of individual acts by personnel of Frontier Corps Balochistan and Pakistan Rangers Sindh were attributed to a planned activity or towards the mindset of the security forces. This all is being done to create a spirit of discontentment in the nation about its armed forces. Indeed, the nation always looked back towards its armed forces at the time of crisis, and by the grace of Allah Almighty, they were not betrayed. On their part, the armed forces strongly believed that, their real strength is the people of Pakistan, who supported their action in meeting the crisis; may be the manmade or natural.  A careful and insightful analysis would lead us that, over the years, the global and regional actors have identified the real strength of Pakistan; the armed forces having strong support of the people of Pakistan. These national entities while acting jointly have been pulling the nation, out of crisis so far, which disappointed the adversaries repeatedly.

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To undo this national strength, over the last few months, there have been massive propaganda against this national power centre to an extent that a man in street was compelled to think differently. Pakistan armed forces and its premium intelligence ISI were projected negatively to the extent of being cruel and brutal organizations. The aim was to pitch the masses against its own security organizations. However, the campaign was initiated by its US and Western media, but soon joined by local actors and propagandists who preferred their personal interests worth of few USD over national interests of Pakistan.  The question arise, despite of their brutalities world over, did any American ever spoke against CIA or FBI.  Those who taken a lead from US officials and its media, should have moral courage to ask them as to who has established torture camps in Guantanamo Bay Guantanamo bye.  Are not CIA and FBI torturing Muslims world over in these camps?  Is it not a violation of human rights? Only those people are being set free from Guantanamo Bay and other centre of tortures who accept a role for themselves against Pakistan or other Muslim interests in other countries or promise to serve the US interests. On daily basis, there are reports in US electronic and print media against Pakistani security forces and its intelligence agency, creating hatred among the masses. These propaganda reports are then taken over by some of domestic media channels, who further thrash, if any aspect is left out from foreign propagandists to degrade these national institutions.  

These external acts and propaganda campaign has put entire nation into crisis. The situation calls for united efforts by the armed forces, media and nation as a whole to tackle it amicable, keeping in view the national interest. Dealing with such a situation would call for a unanimous approach and skills and techniques required to identify, assess, understand, and cope with the situation, especially from the moment it first occurs to the point that recovery procedures start. Since the nation is facing a crisis where its adversaries are all out using extreme means aiming to destabilize and destroy the very basis of Pakistani nationhood and its national power, therefore, crisis management calls for long-term well thought strategy for a successful pulling out, where nation and its armed forces swim together. In this entire exercise, the role of leadership would be very vital.

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The current crisis indeed calls for identification of the real motives behind the scene. Apart from the recognition of the motive, the actors and their respective areas of interests needs a thorough analysis.  No decision should be taken in haste nor there a need for a blame game. The leadership must remain cool and calm while making assessment and strategizing for the future course of action. Indeed, remaining calm but farsighted allows leader to consider various options before you make decisions, even if decisions need to make quickly. The people of Pakistan are to be taken on board all the time for their trust on institutions. Pakistani media has to play a very responsible and constructive role in overcoming the crisis of this magnitude. Rather becoming tool of US media, it must rebuff the global de-formation campaign.  

In dealing with the crisis, we need to be persistent. Surviving a crisis mean you need to keep moving forward. The idea is crawl if you cannot walk and walk if you cannot run, but whatever you do, keep moving forward and do not give up. Flexibility and firmness, rather rigidity, would facilitate the crisis management process. In this process, we have to depend upon our own resources or the time tested and highly dependable friends only. Indeed, the real strength; the people of Pakistan has to be depended upon more than any global actor. While remaining patient, the golden principle of crises management is to be positive and optimistic. This is sometimes the toughest thing to do in a crisis. We have to keep believing there really is a light at the end of tunnel and we will get there.