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In the recent past, new wave of terrorism in Pakistan’s province of Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa killed several innocent people, while various terrorist outfits such as the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) and the affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) claimed responsibility for these brutal acts. TTP based in Afghanistan have its connections with ISIL and other terrorist organizations and affiliated terror groups, including Baloch separatist elements and is promoting the anti-Pakistan agenda of the foreign entities to destabilize Pakistan. These terror outfits are misguiding the general masses by misusing the concept of Jihad and provoking them for suicide assaults.
Besides other similar terror attacks, at least 15 innocent men, women and children were killed in and around 80 people were injured on February 13, 2016 when a suicide bomber struck outside the Punjab Assembly on the Mall Road (Charing Cross) in the eastern city of Lahore during a peaceful protest of the chemists and pharmacists against a new law.
The affiliated faction of the TTP, the TTP-JA or JuA took responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing in Lahore.
In this respect, the rebuttal of the Shuhada Foundation of Lal Masjid to the claim of TTP-JuA that Lahore Charing Cross attack was perpetrated to revenge the killing of Abdul Rasheed Ghazi is surprising; however, it depicts growing abhorrence for terrorists in our society. Every religious scholar of Pakistan condemned the TTP for this attack by the Shuhada Foundation, which also manages media campaign of Maulana Abdul Aziz, is a major upset for TTP. TTP attributes its genesis of Lal Masjid Operation and it often publishes articles and statements on this issue in its magazines to provoke general public. The outrage of people associated with Lal Masjid against TTP is, therefore, a major defeat of faulty narratives of terrorists in Pakistan.
Maulana Abdul Aziz is a person of dubious character and people under his influence are also not constant in their thinking. In the past, they have been supporting TTP’s terrorism in Pakistan and they allegedly expressed allegiance of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and DAISH. We hope they will adhere to their statement that leaders of TTP-JuA are agents of Indian RAW and they are killing innocent Muslims in their anti-Islam activities in Pakistan. Reportedly, the son of late Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, Haroon Rasheed Ghazi has also condemned TTP’s terrorism and has asked for a political settlement of issues in Pakistan. Such statements are positive omens and reflect that the space for violent extremist Jihadi narratives is even shrinking in religious groups.
The nexus of Al-Qaeda, DAISH, and TTP has killed 55 thousand innocent Muslims in their terrorist attacks in Pakistan so far in the name of Jihad. Militant leaders like Fazullah, Mohammad Khorasani and Ahsanullah Ahsan with their unholy hearts and evil minds defend their attacks like that of Army Public School of Peshawar and that of Bacha Khan University in which only little children and students were brutally massacred. Pakistan’s military and civil high officials strongly condemned the attack and recent terror attacks by pointing out their connections in Afghanistan.
It is notable that as part of the dual strategy, CIA, RAW, and Mossad are in connivance with the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other terrorist groups. With the latest capture of six NDS supported terrorists in Balochistan, the number of NDS backed terrorists arrested and killed by Pakistani intelligence agencies has crossed over 126. These external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP is behind the fresh wave of terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has also become the center of the Great Game owing to the ideal location of Balochistan. These intelligence agencies, especially Indian RAW is trying to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
After the recent terror assaults in Pakistan, a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that senior Afghan diplomats were summoned to the General Headquarters (Of army) over the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and asked to ensure that immediate action was taken against the Pakistani terrorists living in safe havens in their country.
The army, which took the lead in dealing with Afghanistan over the terrorist sanctuaries there, had announced the closure of the border crossings with Afghanistan citing security reasons.
According to the statement of the DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, on February 17, 2017, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa appealed to the nation to stay calm by saying, “our security forces shall not allow hostile powers to succeed…each drop of nation’s blood shall be avenged and avenged immediately…no more restraint for anyone.”
Gen. Javed Bajwa had called Gen John Nicholson, commander of the US’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan to protest continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan perpetrated from Afghanistan, saying that they were testing Pakistan’s policy of cross-border restraint.
Gen. Bajwa told Gen. Nicholson that recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan had been claimed by terrorist organizations whose leadership is hiding in Afghanistan, and asked him to play his role in “disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support”.
In a terse message, during the conversation with Nicholson, Gen. Bajwa also informed him of the list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists handed over to Afghan authorities earlier—operating from Afghan territory or hand them over to Pakistan for trying them over their involvement in terrorism.
Taking cognizance of the terror assaults, Pakistan Army targeted a training camp of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and militant hideouts located close to the Pak-Afghan border in areas adjacent to Mohmand and Khyber agencies.
In a similar message to Kabul, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz called Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar to call for strong action against JuA and terrorist’s sanctuaries in Afghanistan.
The Foreign Office of Pakistan said that Afghanistan had been asked to address concerns about the presence of terrorist groups on its soil, which are behind the latest wave of terrorism in the country.
It is notable that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, while addressing a press conference on February 17, this year claimed that the suspects involved in planning an
d carrying out the Feb 13 suicide bombing on a protest at Lahore’s Charing Cross belonged to Afghanistan. Sharif also announced the arrest of the facilitator of the attacker, Anwar-ul-Haq who he said belonged to Fata’s Bajaur Agency which neighbours Afghanistan. The suspect’s confessional statement was aired during the briefing. The suspect stated: “I was associated with Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and they trained me”, adding that he has visited Afghanistan around 15 to 20 times.
Nevertheless, TTP related terrorist groups and extremist religious leaders, having connections in Afghanistan are following the agenda of enemies against Islam and Pakistan with the aim to create fear and panic in the society to weaken the whole country. Therefore, all eminent religious scholars and Grand Muftis have already rejected the deviant ideology of terrorists and declared that unjustified killing of innocent people is entirely prohibited in Islam. All brutal acts of terrorists are aimed at discouraging general masses from challenging their existence and their radical religious views. Unity of whole Ulema (Religious scholars) of Pakistan has proved that people of Pakistan will never bow down in front of heinous crimes of terrorists and will win the war against terror.
Hawkish US Think Tanks
Brig(R) Asif Haroon Raja
(War veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan,DG Measac Research Centre.)
The two leading US think tanks namely ‘Hudson Institute’ and the ‘Heritage Foundation’ have advised the Donald Trump administration to adopt tough measures against Pakistan.
In their view Pakistan is not doing enough in controlling terrorism and is making its soil available for export of terrorism into Afghanistan, thereby threatening the US vital security interests in the region. They have suggested a critical review of intelligence on Pakistan’s involvement in supporting terror since in their view the previous administrations have been taking a lenient view. In their estimation, Pakistan is not an American ally and has been playing a double game by cooperating occasionally and partially.
In their recommendations they have stated that Pakistan must be firmly asked to fully share the US counterterrorism objectives, end its support to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network (HN) and given stern warning that failure to do so would deprive it of the status on non-NATO ally within six months and result in declaring Pakistan as a State sponsor of Terrorism. In their assessment, China and Gulf Arab States share the US concern about Pakistan’s tolerance of terrorist organizations/individuals. They hasten to add that Pakistan being an important country should also be induced by offering a mutually beneficial trade and investment package, while continuing humanitarian and social assistance programs.
It is a well-known fact that there are 1984 think tanks in USA with 350 in Washington. Both Heritage and Hudson are among the 50 most influential think tanks. Other important ones are American Enterprise Institute, Centre for Security Policy, Foreign Policy Research Inst, Institute of Foreign Policy Analysis, Brookings Inst etc. These institutes are required to provide research solutions to a variety of world problems and then lobbying for policy changes. Perceptions are built and the US policy makers influenced to formulate foreign policies or make changes in policies, and frame responses to external challenges.
These intellectual institutes are however mostly controlled by the Far-Right Zionist lobby which is pro-Israel and guided by American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPIAC). Of the 30 top executives of the major think tanks, 19 are Jews (63%), whereas Jews are mere 2% of the total population. 94% of American Jews live in 13 key Electoral College State, who play a predominant role in the election of US president. Zionist lobby is closely aligned with Indian lobby in USA. The two lobbies besides having influence over think tanks and media, also have strong influence over the US Congress and play a big role in the election of each member. It is therefore quite logical to assume that like hundreds of anti-Pakistan reports dished out by the US think tanks, US Congress, New York Times, Washington Post and Voice of America, this report was also manufactured by these lobbies that are hostile to Pakistan. Purpose is to influence the new administration to pursue old policies to keep Pakistan in the dock.
Rather than focusing on foreign policy and security issues, these think tanks work on tutored themes and burn midnight oil in justifying the crimes of USA, Israel and India against humanity, painting the targeted Muslim countries particularly the radical groups in black and blaming the victims of aggression as terrorists or sponsors of terrorism. Pakistan has been the biggest victim of Indo-US-Israeli propaganda since 2005. Since none of the sinister objective against Pakistan could be accomplished through covert means, the propaganda continues unabated and this report is in continuation of the malicious campaign.
I may like to ask the wise guys of the two think tanks some probing questions:
Whether their counsels helped USA in winning the war on terror, or at least in improving their image. If not, have they ever prepared a paper highlighting why the US has failed to achieve its stated and hidden objectives after fighting the longest war in its history and spending over $ 1 trillion, where the US went wrong and how could it make amends to restore its lost prestige. (I have).
Instead of the next door neighbor Pakistan feeling insecure, how come the US located 7000 miles away and across the seven seas feel threatened by the chaos in Afghanistan which it had intentionally created?
I want to know as to what are the accomplishments of the US-NATO forces and in what way they have fared better than Pakistan to ask it repeatedly to do more? In my reckoning, the US need to do a lot more.
Can the US deny that CIA in league with RAW, NDS, MI-6, Mossad and BND been exporting terrorism into Pakistan since 2003 with the help of its proxies created in FATA, Swat, Baluchistan and Karachi? Can it deny that RAW and NDS are still supporting them?
Why the ISAF withdrew bulk of 1, 30, 000 troops from Afghanistan in December 2014 without eliminating its principal objective of eliminating terrorism?
Was it because of resurging Taliban power which it couldn’t defeat, or the sagging morale of ISAF soldiers due to mounting war casualties, suicides, in-house attacks, huge number of post stress disorder cases and uninspiring military leadership?
Isn’t it true that the morale of occupying forces drawing handsome salaries drooped because they had no cause and that they were fighting a wrong war for selfish motives of the elites?
When the US accepted in principle that the Taliban could neither be defeated on the battlefield nor cowed down and decided to quit Afghanistan by December 2014, what was the need for keeping behind a token force along with airpower? Did it really expect that what the combined military force of 48 countries couldn’t achieve, would be accomplished by ANSF rived in so many discipline problems?
Isn’t it a fact that rather than accepting defeat in good grace and quitting honorably, the US military brazenly blamed Pakistan for all its failures? Can the prestige and honor of the sole super power be restored by making Pakistan a scapegoat?
Pakistan security forces and ISI on the other hand successfully broke the back of terror network and demolished all the sanctuaries, communication and command infrastructure from FATA and settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, enfeebled foreign backed separatist movement in Baluchistan and demolished the militant structure of MQM in Karachi. All this was done single-handed against all odds and astounded the world. USA is among the ones acknowledging Pakistan’s spectacular successes.
If Pakistan had fought the war with ill-motives and without a genuine cause, could it have achieved the miracle?
It is now an open secret that the US had occupied Afghanistan under a preconceived design and with sinister objectives against Pakistan and other regional countries. It has been calculatingly inflaming terrorism in the region and particularly in Pakistan and at no stage made any sincere effort to quash terrorism.
Had the US been sincere and serious in eliminating terrorism as professed by George W. Bush and his successor Barak Obama, it would have made Pakistan its strategic partner and banked upon it based upon its astounding performance in the war against the Soviets in the 1980s.
The US relied upon India which has nothing in common with Afghans and is a far distant neighbor. Driven by acute animosity against Pakistan, India kept pressing US military to focus on Pakistan rather than on consolidating its gains in Afghanistan. Gen Mc Chrystal, Gen Petraeus and former Secretary Defense Chuck Hegel publically declared India as a problem child.
Wasn’t it a big mistake on part of the US to sideline the Afghan Pashtuns that are in big majority, and instead rely upon minority Tajiks, Uzbeks and others in Northern Alliance and unpopular and inefficient regimes of Karzai and of Ghani?
One may ask as to why the US has been striving hard since 2011 to have dialogue with the Taliban who are supposed to be the foes and are still vying to make them agree to talk? And why Pakistan is being asked to stay away from them? Concept of good and bad Taliban is the brainchild of USA and not of Pakistan. In its view, all those agreeing to talk are good and those refusing to talk are bad.
Since 2008, the Taliban are constantly gaining ground in Afghanistan and are striking targets in all parts of the country including Kabul and northern and western parts. Their resurgence became menacing after 2014 and coming spring offensive will prove highly perilous for the unity government in Kabul and for the 3, 50,000 ANSF supported by 12000 Resolute Support Group that have failed to stem the tide. So how come Pakistan is responsible for their dismal performance particularly after it cleared the last stronghold of North Waziristan in 2014 where HN was based?
The US has been suspecting and distrusting Pakistan from the outset since it was never made an ally. Marked as a target, friendship was a ruse to deceive Pakistan, make it complacent, weaken it from within through covert operations and then extract its nuclear teeth at an opportune time. This feat if achieved would have justified its most expensive Afghan venture. So who has been playing a double game??
Rather than learning lessons from past mistakes and blunders and taking corrective measures by working out a face saving formula, the two think tanks have suggested the same old remedy which will prove counterproductive.
Pakistan has been kept on the leash all these years. So, what tough measures are now being suggested? The threat of declaring Pakistan a terrorist state, or to make the financial assistance condition based, or drone war are coercive tools in use for over a decade.
What is so new suggested by the sages and that too at a time when Pakistan has weathered all the pains, its armed forces are fully battle inoculated and have proved their mettle, its nuclear and missile programs are vibrant and in safe hands, it has overcome its energy and economic crisis, it is no more isolated, it is a coalition partner of ascending power and has other options as well? On the other hand, USA is a declining power ruled by controversial, unpredictable and unpopular president, annoying everyone including the Americans other than the most detestable Israel and India. How has the Trump administration responded to Iran’s tough response? It is on a weaker wicket to threaten nuclear Pakistan.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre. firstname.lastname@example.org
|Pakistani Taliban’s indoctrinated child bombers|
Most children used by Taliban as suicide bombers are from poor families who are indoctrinated through religious schools.
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2012 08:31
“Once in the hands of the Pakistani Taliban, brainwashing of the sheltered, naive and suggestible young people for the organisation’s military goals proceeds,” says author [EPA]
|“While adult suicide bombers may experience some ‘existential grappling,’ young children are unable to process the meaning of ending one’s life, especially if rewards are promised in the afterlife.” (Indoctrinating Children: The Making of Pakistan’s Suicide Bombers)In the late afternoon of April 3, 2011, in the Pakistani city of Dera Ghazi Khan, an annual Sufi Muslim religious festival at the shrine of the 13th century saint Ahmed Sultan was hit by twin suicide bomb attacks which killed over 50 people and left more than 120 wounded.
As an eyewitness described the immediate aftermath of the bombings, “people started running outside the shrine. Women and children were crying and screaming. It was like hell”.
The bombers had struck a few minutes apart, instantly turning the atmosphere of festivity and prayer into a scene of carnage and horror. As crowds of worshippers fled in terror, an elderly woman ran into a young boy out of whose hands dropped a grenade. His name was Umar Fidai, a 15-year-old, and he was the third intended suicide bomber that day.
Umar’s explosive vest had failed to detonate and as his handlers had instructed, he was attempting to kill himself and as many others as possible with the grenade they had provided him as a backup.
In his own words in an interview later given to the Pakistani media, “There were three policemen standing close by, and I thought if I killed them too, I would still make it to heaven… At the time I detonated myself, thoughts of my family were not in my mind, I was only thinking about what the Taliban had told me.”
Umar was shot and wounded by police and failed in his mission, but he is only one of the hundreds of other children it is believed that the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) have brainwashed and utilised as suicide bombers in their ongoing war with the state.
Brainwashing of young people
Most are impressionable children from poor families who are indoctrinated through networks of religious schools which provide the only hope of advancement in isolated regions poorly served by the Pakistani government; although many are also procured through outright kidnapping and coercion by armed gangs.
Once in the hands of the TTP, the brainwashing of these sheltered, naive and suggestible young people for the organisation’s military goals proceeds. In Umar’s words, “I thought that there would be a little bit of pain, but then I would be in heaven.”
A significant majority of suicide bombers in Pakistan are believed to be between the ages of 12 and 18, with some studies putting the number near 90 per cent. Pakistani Taliban commander Qari Hussain has boasted that his organisation recruits children as young as five years old for suicide attacks, saying that “Children are tools to achieve God’s will, whatever comes your way you sacrifice it”.
There are estimated to be roughly 2,000 madrassas in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, a small yet significant percentage of which are believed to be involved in the brainwashing and indoctrination of young boys into militancy.
Students in these schools receive free board and education; something which on its face appears to be a remarkable opportunity for poor and isolated children whose parents cannot afford to send them to good schools, but which ultimately comes at a terrible price to both them and Pakistani society.
In one high-profile incident in early 2012, a convoy of cars carrying children, some as young as six, was intercepted while it was en route to religious schools where the children were allegedly to be trained as suicide bombers – the rationale for their utilisation being that they were “gullible” as well as less likely to be physically searched by police at checkpoints.
In a recent study by Hussain Nadim for the Islamabad-based National University of Science and Technology, several interviews were conducted with rescued child suicide bombers whom he described as being “not particularly religious, nor motivated by supposedly Islamic ideas, and had no substantial animosity toward the United States or the Pakistan Army – they knew very little about the world outside their small tribe… The lack of access to TV, Internet, and formal education meant they were almost completely oblivious to such massive events as 9/11, and as such they were unaware of where and what exactly the United States was.”
In this context, such isolated and impressionable young people were highly susceptible to intensive brainwashing by Taliban militants who would make young recruits spend weeks watching videos of atrocities and of foreign troops raping women and girls – a fate which they said would await their own female relatives if they did not carry out suicide operations against Western and Pakistani government targets on behalf of the TTP.
‘Fear of losing mothers and sisters’
Furthermore, Nadim’s study concluded that most residents of the tribal areas where the Pakistani Taliban operate have little understanding or knowledge of the “War on Terror” being fought in their region, and are themselves allies of neither the Taliban, the West, nor of the Pakistani government.
Those young people who have agreed to take part in suicide bombings have in many cases done so particularly “out of fear of losing mothers and sisters”; a fear impressed upon them by their militant handlers’ extensive psychological manipulation.
Unbeknownst to them when they enrolled their children in what were ostensibly religious schools, parents are denied access to their children once in the hands of the Taliban – a separation which is coercively enforced when parents realise that their young sons are being indoctrinated by their religious teachers in preparation for militant operations.
One parent of a child described how he repeatedly pleaded with the Taliban to return his child but was denied. “We were threatened and told that the kids are working for a noble cause.”
Cut off from parental contact, young, isolated children are easily susceptible to the influences of surrogate authority figures such as religious clerics in their madrassas. Many are told that they are acting in the name of Islam and will receive the reward of heaven if they successfully carry out their missions.
Studies of those rescued have also shown that most suffer from “[physical] injuries, nightmares and trauma”. Indicative of the expendability and cynicism with which they are exploited by militant organisations, child suicide bombers are often sold to other groups and individuals wishing to carry out attacks for prices starting at US$7,000; a grotesque financial utilisation of manipulated children by armed gangs.
In the words of Lahore-based researcher and psychologist Anees Khan, “These young boys are as much the victims of terrorism as those they kill. They are victims of the most brutal exploitation.”
For Umar Fidai, despite losing his arm and suffering extensive burns to his body, he is glad that he survived and did not successfully carry out his bombing mission.
After it was explained to him the true nature of the acts he was carrying out and the mainstream Islamic perspective which stands unequivocally against both suicide and the murder of innocent civilians, he would say from his hospital bed to a Pakistani reporter: “I am so grateful, because at least I have been saved from going to hell. I am in a lot of pain, but I know there are many people in hospital even more severely injured than me and I am so sorry for what I did… I now realise suicide bombing is un-Islamic… I hope people will forgive me.”
Murtaza Hussain is a Toronto-based writer and analyst focused on issues related to Middle Eastern politics.
Follow him on Twitter: @MazMHussain
The horrific incident at the Peshawar school jolted the nation and the civilian and military leadership came together to reclaim its neglected priorities. We were assured that now there is a broad consensus among political parties, and between them and the military, to combat terrorism. Hopefully, the concept of consensus as envisaged by the civilian leadership does not remain confined merely to reacting to the army’s demands, but to take initiatives and demonstrate the ability that it is a part of the transformation process. So far, the army has taken most of the major decisions. Lately, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is trying to seize the initiative and the broad-based action plan to fight terrorism covering both the ideological and the security aspects is a manifestation of the government’s commitment. Of course, people will be closely watching the plan’s implementation because our history is full of grandiose plans that were seldom executed or at best partially implemented.
The greatest challenge today is of transforming mindsets. In this, the role of clerics, madrassas, media, political parties and the mainstream education system is critical. How is the government going to deal with those madrassas that are known for spreading hatred and resist any scrutiny? Research institutes dealing with madrassas have assessed that about 10 per cent fall in this category, which is a substantial figure close to about 30,000. These are operating as autonomous units and are like sanctuaries that have remained outside the ambit of law. The prime minister’s action plan is emphatic that these madrassas will be reformed. In the enforcement of its writ, the government’s resolve will be measured. In addition to reforming madrassas, the government should open additional schools on a countrywide basis and make them attractive enough for parents to prefer to send their children to them. After all, what does the future hold for those students who continue to be subjected to rote learning and are deprived of modern education except to be exploited by the jihadi market? How can they contribute to society when their education fails to relate to the demands of the employment market, where physical and social sciences are key subjects and form the foundation of a progressive nation? With such acute limitations, they will continue to be exploited by unscrupulous forces as is happening now. We find that the very forces that are attacking the Pakistani state are those elements that were once nurtured by the state. Similarly, the religio-political parties that are supportive of radical madrassas may find that their students turn against them for being not sufficiently jihadist in the years to come. Moreover, if madrassa managements have nothing to hide, then why are they avoiding government oversight? The reality is that some of these seminaries have become dens of militants in urban centres.
The decision to establish military courts to handle cases pertaining to terrorism and lifting the moratorium on the death penalty has invoked criticism both inside and outside the country. The government’s position is that extraordinary conditions demand special measures. There is no doubt that these are unusual times and the civilian courts have miserably failed to provide justice for reasons well known — the state unable to provide protection to judges, witnesses and prosecution lawyers. As a result, the entire judicial machinery, fearing for its life, has been practically paralysed while many acquitted terrorists are roaming around freely, committing multiple murders of innocent citizens. And those who are awaiting trial are languishing in jails for years. The army is justifiably very disturbed and insists on setting up military courts for expediting cases. But there is a flip side to this proposal that cannot be overlooked. The civilian leadership, by its inadequate response to terrorism and other related matters, is gradually yielding space to the military that already heavily dominates the political and security landscape. Civilian leadership has to rise to the national challenge if the current ‘consensus’ has any substance. If consensus translates into handing over most major responsibilities of law and order, dealing with terrorist cases, taking decisions on strategic matters to the army, then it should be noted that such a state of affairs will have its own dynamics — militarisation, further weakening of state institutions and a playback of our history. In this cycle, democracy would be the first casualty and militant and radical forces the likely beneficiaries.
The prime minister’s current resolve is encouraging. History will, however, judge him and the provincial chief ministers on how they contribute towards strengthening civilian institutions, developing a national policy, improving governance, and above all, tackling terrorism. The leadership and courage that has been demonstrated by General Raheel Sharif has been inspiring. But it would be a folly to overload the armed forces with tasks that plainly fall in the domain of civilians, whether these pertain to the development of areas cleared by the army in Fata, resettling of internally displaced persons and dealing with the appalling law and order situation of Karachi and other major urban centres. It is through bank robberies and hostage-taking that criminal activity and terrorism feed each other.
A significant improvement in relations with Afghanistan has also been steered by the army leadership. The major military operation in North Waziristan and a paradigm shift in our policy of denying space to the Taliban, the Haqqani network and Hafiz Gul Bhadur have helped in improving relations with Afghanistan and the US. Recent plans for coordinated operations with the Afghan military to clear sanctuaries on both sides of the border, if conducted without any past prejudices coming in the way, should put pressure on the TTP and Afghan militants.
If we would also abandon support to the Jamaatud Dawa and focus on dealing with Kashmir and other issues with India politically, we will unlock tremendous potential and resources in fighting terrorism and militancy. It would be unwise to allow radical and extremist elements to flourish to keep the Kashmir cause alive. This strategy has not worked in the past and will not be beneficial in the future. We need to revisit our major policies to be at peace with ourselves and with the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2014.