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Afghanistan yesterday, today, tomorrow Pakistan-US role by Brig.Gen(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja.

Afghanistan yesterday, today, tomorrow

Pakistan-US role

By

Brig.Gen(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja.

Part-One

 

                                      “While we all hope for peace it shouldn’t be peace at any cost but peace based on principle, on justice” Corazon C. Aquino

 

Background

Pakistan and Afghanistan never enjoyed friendly relations since the latter didn’t accept the Durand Line as an international border and laid claims over Pashtun inhabited areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. Afghanistan has traditionally remained close to India and hostile towards Pakistan. Relations dipped during the rule of President Daud after he seized power in 1973 from King Zahir Shah. Insurgents in Baluchistan were provided safe havens and Pakhtunistan movement was fueled.

 

When Afghanistan was occupied by Soviet forces in December 1979, and 4 million Afghans became refugees in Pakistan, Pakistan under Gen Ziaul Haq condemned the invasion and decided to support the Afghan resistance forces. The US and Saudi Arabia came in support of Pakistan led covert war in June 1981. The two provided funds and weapons only. The Soviet forces accepted defeat and pulled out by February 1989 but in the ten-year gruesome war, the country was devastated and two million Afghan civilians lost their lives. Pakistan had to face KGB-KHAD-RAW-Al-Zulfiqar sabotage and subversion.

 

No sooner the US achieved all its objectives, the US not only ditched Pakistan in 1990 and put it under harsh sanctions, but to rub salt on wounds of Pakistan, it made India its strategic partner which was the camp follower of USSR. The Mujahideen eulogized as holy warriors were abandoned as a result of which civil war broke out between the warring groups.

 

 

  

 

The Taliban under Mulla Omar started their Islamic movement from Kandahar in 1994 and after capturing Kabul in 1996, they established Islamic Emirate. Taliban were in control of 93% territory till 07 Oct 2001, and only 7% in the north was controlled by the Northern Alliance (NA) comprising Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazaras. The military wing of NA was trained by the Indian and Iranian military trainers in Iran.

 

 

 

From 1997 onwards, the Taliban regime came in bad books of Washington because of cancellation of oil & gas pipelines project of UNICOL and was put under sanctions. Al-Qaeda under Osama bin Laden that had been created by CIA to fight the Soviets turned hostile and started hitting American targets in Gulf of Aden and African countries.

During the 5-year rule of Taliban, Afghanistan was made free of warlords, crimes and social vices including rapes and drug business. People could leave their houses and shops unlocked since none dared to commit theft. Justice was cheap and quick. For the first time since 1947, Pakistan enjoyed very cordial relations with Afghanistan and its western border became safe and Indian presence in Afghanistan faded. The closeness promoted the concept of strategic depth. After the forcible removal of Taliban regime by the US-NATO forces in November 2001, Pak-Afghanistan relations have strained and Indian influence has bounced back in a big way. It was owing to their social and judicial achievements that Talibanization crept into FATA and Malakand Division in Pakistan and later give birth to TTP and TNSM.   

 

Pakistan-US relations 1954-2000

 

Pakistan-USA relations have all along been transactional in nature and never developed into deep-rooted strategic relationship based on mutual trust and friendship. The 74 years history has seen many ups and downs; the US behaving like an overbearing mother-in-law and Pakistan put on a roller coaster ride behaving like a submissive daughter-in-law, taking her barbs without a whimper. Such an unfair treatment was meted out in spite of Pakistan having put its national security at stake three times and each time suffering a great deal.

 

The US embraced Pakistan for the accomplishment of its objectives in this region and no sooner the objectives were achieved, it was unceremoniously dumped. Each time the US ventured into this part of the world, it found Pakistan to be most suitable and most pliable to serve its ends. Pak-US relations were at their best during Eisenhower-Dulles era after which the US started wooing India and forced Pakistan to lean on China.

 

During the Cold War, Pakistan was reluctantly taken on board by the US in 1953/4 to help in containing communism in South Asia after India which was the camp follower of the Soviet Union refused to become part of the US defensive arc. Pakistan joined the western pacts due to its extreme security concerns from India and Afghanistan, both backed by former Soviet Union.

 

Although Pakistan earned the title of ‘most allied ally of the US’ and became totally dependent upon the US arms and technology, but the US disappointed Pakistan when its support was needed the most in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India. Pakistan was denied the crucially needed war munitions from the US as well as diplomatic support during the two wars, while India continued to receive arms from the USSR and kept the resolution of Kashmir dispute at bay due to Soviet vetoes. 

 

The US ignored India’s nuclear explosion in 1974 but promptly imposed sanctions on Pakistan in 1979 on mere suspicion that it was working on a nuclear program. However, soon after, when Pakistan’s services were needed to fight the occupying Soviet forces in Afghanistan, it once again hugged it in 1981 and doled out monetary and military assistance.

 

Throughout the 1990s, Pakistan was kept under the leash under the charges of developing an Islamic bomb, nuclear proliferation and cross border terrorism in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Holy warriors were dubbed as terrorists and hounded. Indo-US relations blossomed into strategic relationship during Bill Clinton rule and thereon it kept flourishing leaps and bounds.

 

Post 9/11 events

 

Pakistan was once again taken on board by the US after 9/11 for the achievement of its short-term regional objectives in Afghanistan. From the very outset, the US intoxicated with power ignored the geography, history, culture, sociology and ideology of Afghanistan. It didn’t bother that it had been a graveyard of empires where it was easy to enter but near impossible to exit safely. Not only Alexander the great fell, but the British also failed and the USSR disintegrated.

 

Blinded by rage to avenge the 9/11 attacks and immersed in the pool of arrogance and egotism, the US and its western allies jumped into the inferno of Afghanistan with full zeal and enthusiasm, and vaulted from one plan to another in pursuit of a hollow strategy, which was never changed to correct its course.

 

Gen Musharraf accepted all 7 demands of the US since he was denied the option of staying neutral. To save Pakistan from destruction, he ditched the Taliban and provided airbases, seaport, land routes and intelligence cooperation to the invaders. The US could not have so easily toppled the Taliban regime and occupied Afghanistan in a month if Pakistan had not provided full support.

 

Completely isolated and encircled from all directions, and the traditional fallback position of FATA denied, the Taliban could fight the ground forces of NA, but couldn’t have resisted the massive air bombing for long. Hence they wisely undertook a tactical withdrawal to regain strength and start bleeding the occupiers through prolonged insurrectional war. The euphoric George W. Bush sounded the victory bugles too prematurely and took it for granted that the Taliban were down and out.

 

Mistakes made by Bush administration

 

Much against Pakistan’s advice, the US installed NA heavy regime in Kabul which was pro-India and anti-Pakistan. The puppet regime ignored the Afghan Pashtuns and started giving more space to India to make it the preeminent player in Afghanistan as was desired by the US.

 

Ignoring the heavy majority Pashtuns and relying solely on the minority NA regime was the first mistake made by Bush administration. This blunder was followed by another when it imposed the US tailored constitution upon the tribal based society. 

 

Opening of the second front by USA in Iraq in 2003 without consolidating the gains in Afghanistan was another slip-up, since engagement on two fronts diluted the war effort of the US-NATO and allowed breathing space to the Taliban to regroup in FATA.

 

Yet another error was raising non-Pashtun heavy Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) which turned into a liability.

 

CIA and NATO as well as Afghan warlords indulged in drug business which had almost been eliminated by the Taliban. These distractions loosened the grip of ISAF led by weak military commanders over Afghanistan and enabled the Taliban to recover lost space in southern and eastern Afghanistan and also earn money from drug business for their war effort.

 

Since the two land routes from Pakistan used by NATO containers passed through the Taliban dominated rural belt, the US security contractors and Afghan officials had to pay toll tax to the Taliban for passage of every container which also became a source of income for them.

 

The US dual standards

 

Misled by misconceived victory, over confident Bush instead of fulfilling the promises made to the Afghans by promoting democracy, education and development works, he gave preference to covert operations against Pakistan and forced Pakistan to fight the Al-Qaeda in South Waziristan (SW). That way, Pakistan earned the hostility of Al-Qaeda and own tribesmen.

 

Ironically, while Washington waged war in Iraq and Afghanistan to bring democracy, it stoutly upheld Pakistan’s military dictatorship.

 

While Pak security forces fought the Pakistani Taliban and Baloch rebel groups in FATA and in Baluchistan that were funded, trained, equipped and guided by RAW-NDS combine to destabilize Pakistan, they didn’t confront the Afghan Taliban whose struggle was entirely confined to Afghanistan and they never fired a bullet against Pak forces.

 

Pakistan started taking measures to protect its national security in 2008 once it learnt that CIA-FBI had gained complete sway over FATA with the help of TTP formed in Dec 2006. Blackwater was inducted in 2008 to bolster CIA-FBI in urban areas of Pakistan. Nexus of CIA-RAW-NDS-MI-6-Mossad-BND in Kabul supported anti-Pakistan proxies in FATA and Baluchistan.

 

In order to keep the supply routes to the TTP open so that it could indulge in terrorism in FATA and KP, the US rejected Pakistan’s proposal to fence the western border, or to increase number of border posts on Afghan side to prevent infiltration.

 

A coordinated Indo-Afghan propaganda campaign backed by the west was launched to defame Pakistan and its premier institutions.

 

Obama’s Nightmare era

 

Based on Obama’s Af-Pak strategy of anvil and hammer, managed by Richard Holbrook, ISAF failed to provide the anvil when Pak forces delivered the hammer in SW in 2009, thus letting the TTP militants under Hakimullah Mehsud to flee to Afghanistan. Pak forces managed to retrieve 17 out of 19 administrative units under the influence of TTP and confined its presence to the last bastions of North Waziristan (NW) and Khyber Agency.

 

But for Pakistan which nabbed over 600 Al-Qaeda senior leaders and operators and handed them over to CIA, the ISAF couldn’t have dismantled and defeated them in Afghanistan as claimed by Obama. Bulk of Al-Qaeda fighters had otherwise shifted to Iraq in 2004 and formed Al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsula after the US-NATO forces occupied Iraq in May 2003.

 

Two troop surges in 2009 raised the strength of ISAF (an amalgam of 48 military contingents) to near 1,50,000, but it proved futile since it resulted in heavy casualties of the occupiers. Adoption of rearward posture and abandonment of boots on ground strategy by ISAF after suffering setbacks in battles of Helmand and Nuristan and putting ANSF in the forefront, and thereafter putting heavy reliance on airpower, was a wrong decision made by Gen McChrystal. It enabled the Taliban to snatch the initiative and build momentum of offensive, which couldn’t be reversed by the occupying force.   

 

Tensions between the US and Pakistan kept increasing when the US adopted a highly discriminatory policy of blaming Pakistan for the failures of ISAF-ANSF, and instability in Afghanistan; subjecting it to drone war; insulting and penalizing it and constantly pressing it to do more against Haqqani Network (HN) and Quetta Shura, and at the same time covering up the sins of India and Kabul regime and going out of the way to reward them. Extreme pressure was mounted to flush out HN from NW. Discriminatory policy brought in element of distrust.  

 

2011 was the worst year for Pakistan in which Raymond Davis, Abbottabad attack, Memogate and Salala attack took place which forced Pakistan to cut off military cooperation with the US and stop the two NATO supply routes for six months.  

 

The reason behind the discriminatory behavior was that while Indo-US-Afghan-West-Israel are strategic partners and work in collusion to achieve their common objectives, Pakistan doesn’t fit into the US security paradigm or the Indo-Pacific strategy, and as such was accepted as a tactical partner to fight terrorism both inside Pakistan and in Afghanistan.

The points of friction which kept the Pak-US relations dysfunctional are Pakistan’s nuclear program, the CPEC, its closeness with China, hostility against India mainly due to unresolved Kashmir dispute, its refusal to recognize Israel, and its refusal to fight Afghan Taliban.

Initiation of peace talks by Obama in 2011 which led to opening of Taliban’s political office at Doha in mid-June 2013 lacked sincerity since whichever Taliban leader came forward for a peace deal, whether from TTP or the Taliban, was droned. Wali, Baituallah Mehsud, Hakimullah Mehsud, Akhtar Mansour, were all killed by drones. Fight and talk strategy was aimed at dividing Taliban movement.  

After withdrawal of bulk of ISAF forces by Dec 2014, the Taliban rapidly captured more territory and gained a military ascendency over occupying forces and the ANSF. Demoralization set in among the occupiers and collaborators; green-over-blue attacks as well as suicide cases increased; rate of desertions in ANSF accelerated.

Installation of a unity regime in Kabul in 2016 by Obama regime was a bad decision. Due to poor governance, corruption and power tussle between Ghani and Abdullah, writ of the government got confined to Kabul.

The Taliban gained dominance over 56% rural territory through which major supply routes pass; its influence stretched to well over 80% area where they installed shadow governments; could strike any part of the country; developed war economy; had sound command, control & communication infrastructure; fair judicial system and dedicated fighters.

The Taliban succeeded in breaking their isolation and were wooed by China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Qatar, UAE, KSA, and Germany. China signed a $ 3 billion development project with the Taliban. It reduced the clout of Pakistan over them.

Writ of the ANSF backed by the US led Resolute Support Group got restricted to capital cities which are often attacked by the Taliban.    

   

Landmark peace agreement

After maximizing force against the Taliban and pressure against Pakistan, Donald Trump reopened the stalled peace talks in July 2018 and finally inked the historic peace agreement with the Taliban on February 29, 2020, in which the Kabul regime was excluded. The UN, Russia, China and Pakistan endorsed the agreement.

The Taliban agreed not to allow Afghan soil for terrorism against the US/allies, reduce violence, desist from attacking western targets in Afghanistan, sever ties with al-Qaeda, and to open inter-Afghan dialogue for a comprehensive political settlement. The US agreed to pull out all troops by May 1, 2021 and to refrain from attacking the Taliban. 5000 Taliban prisoners and 1000 ANSF prisoners were to be released within 3 months after start of intra-Afghan talks on March 10, 2020, and Taliban leaders removed from the UN blacklist. 

Intra-Afghan dialogue got delayed due to Ashraf Ghani’s reservations and foot dragging over prisoner exchange. Firefight between the Taliban and ANSF supported by the US continued in which former had an upper hand.

Trump was keen to end the longest war and make a clean break from Afghanistan and he reduced the US troop level to 2500 only.  

To be continued

The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, 6th book under publication, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, takes part in TV talk shows. Email: asifharoonraja@gmail.com     

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Progress achieved by Pakistan in counter-terrorism Brig.Gen(R) Asif Haroon

Cold Start AF-Pak Fifth Generation War Doctrine Pakistan Facing Simultaneously

Progress achieved by Pakistan in counter-terrorism       

Brig.Gen(R) Asif Haroon

 

 

In the wake of the US war on terror initiated by the USA in end 2001, Pakistan which was made a US ally and a frontline state to combat terrorism have borne the brunt of terrorist attacks that have killed more than 70,000 people including women and children. Not only has Pakistan suffered in terms of losing precious lives, it has also sustained economic losses in its fight against terrorism that has risen to $126 billion in 2017-18, which is more than what the country has suffered in its wars with India. No other country, not even the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, can claim to have suffered such tremendous loss, both in terms of lives and money.

When Fazlullah made Swat-Malakand region into a state within a state in 2008/09, it led to Operation Rah-e- Rast on April 2009. A terrorist attack on GHQ on October 10 that year led to Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan. 17 out of 18 administrative units in the control of TTP were retaken after launching series of operations in six tribal agencies. A terrorist attack on Jinnah terminal at Karachi on June 9, 2014, led to the launching of Operation Zarb on June 15 in North Waziristan which had become the safe haven and strongest base of operation of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) affiliated with 66 proscribed militant groups.  Following the vicious terrorist attack on the Army Public School (APS) on December 16, 2014, which resulted in the death of 149 people including 132 school children, Pakistan clamped down hard on the terrorist networks in the country through sustained counterterrorism operations, as part of the National Action Plan (NAP).

These military operations have substantially improved the overall security situation in the country. All bases of operations and safe havens of militant organizations in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) called PATA (provincially administered) have been dismantled and flushed out. The handlers, facilitators, financiers of terrorists spread in all parts of Pakistan are being systematically dealt with by the military through countrywide intelligence based Operation Raddul Fasad. Likewise sleeping cells are being eliminated. Another tangible step that has been initiated is the fencing of the western border to prevent cross-border infiltration. Border management is also being improved.  

Continuous intelligence-based operations and the stringent measures introduced under NAP including the re-institution of the death penalty, new cybercrime laws, the renewal of the Afghan Refugee Registration, the revival of the Pakistan Automated Fingerprint Identification System (PAFIS), and the establishment of the Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) to check cross-border infiltration of terrorists have today significantly eradicated terrorists, their networks and safe havens in the country.

To fix loopholes and strengthen the judicial system, a holistic approach was taken towards legislation for strengthening Pakistan’s anti-terrorism efforts.  Special military courts were established through the 21st amendment in the constitution of Pakistan for the purpose of speedy trials and to protect the judges who prosecute the terrorists. Eleven military courts were established and 388 cases have been transferred to these courts and their decisions have been forwarded to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of Pakistan Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa for his approval of the award of the death sentence.[1] Military courts in Pakistan have sentenced 186 terrorists to death and issued verdicts for more than 300 terrorism-related cases.[2]

Another milestone achieved by NAP was strengthening of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) – an anti-terrorism institution established by the parliament in 2013 with the sole mandate of countering extremism and terrorism in the country. Regrettably, it remained un-effective until it was made part of the NAP. Following the zero-tolerance policy after the APS attack, NACTA pursued its mandate and jurisdiction with unparalleled vigour and etched the policies addressing the state’s goals in countering terrorism. A special budget of Rs. 1545.5 million was allocated in 2016-17, and in 2017-2018 Rs. 1643.019 million was demanded, however only Rs. 530.839 have been released. A Joint Intelligence Directorate has also been staffed in NACTA for the purpose of enhancing coordination and intelligence sharing mechanism among the provinces.[3]

The NAP which has a 20-point agenda has also taken a rigorous stance in dealing with the matter of sectarian violence, religious intolerance and extremism. As a result, 1373 cases were registered after 2014 regarding hate speech and publication of literature inciting religious sentiments. Around 2,566 persons were arrested against 1373 cases and 70 shops were sealed. Moreover, 19,895 cases have been registered pertaining to misuse of loudspeakers, 20,679 persons were arrested and 8,759 pieces of equipment have been confiscated.[4] Sectarian violence surged in the country in the last two decade, sacrilegious and hate speech were the main causes of creating sectarian violence. NAP ensured the misuse of loudspeaker would not be tolerated and fiery speeches were banned. It is the fruit of NAP that in 2012, 185 sectarian attacks were recorded while in 2018 only two attacks were witnessed on the mainstream.[5]

Steps have also been taken to check terror financing. Before the inception of the NAP, there was no robust mechanism available to monitor terrorist funding activities. The terrorists could freely manipulate huge funds received by their sympathizers and stakeholders. They could receive huge sums of money through charities, NGOs, and international fund transfers, narcotics trade, and extortion. In an effort to overcome this drawback, NACTA took an initiative to choke the funding activities of terrorists and established a Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT) in every province and it became an integral part of investigations. Furthermore, HUNDI/HUWALA transactions were also monitored and 919 cases were registered, 1209 persons were arrested and Rs. 1489.918 million was recovered. Another 426 cases were registered and 574 were arrested under money laundering charges.[6]

NAP took effective measures to counter the re-emergence of proscribed organizations. Until now, 66 organizations have been declared as illegal and 4 are under observation, while 7,966 individuals have been placed under section IV of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. The government has so far frozen 4,962 accounts with over Rs. 93,980 million. Over 2,052 persons are also facing travel restrictions.[7]

NAP provided a strong mechanism to establish skilled anti-terrorist force in all provinces with an aim to reduce the burden from the police and to combat terrorists. Presently, out of 7200 sanctioned force, 6,038 security personnel are working all around Pakistan in different provinces.[8]

Effective steps have also been taken to promote pluralism and diversity. The federal government has directed all the provincial governments to protect the lives and honour of all non-Muslims minorities. Their shops and places of worship are now secured by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA’s), and all discrimination and biases have been expunged from the curricula.

Approximately 32,272 religious seminaries were functional all around the country. To address the issue of illegal seminaries, NACTA in collaboration with Ittihad-e-Tanzim-e-Madaris Pakistan has streamlined the Madrassas. The registration and data forms have been generated to keep a record of Madrassas. Islamabad Punjab and Sindh have already carried out 100% geo-mapping (Special software technology that records data with visuals) on agreed parameters, while Baluchistan (80%), FATA (90%), and KPK (95%). Geo-mapping of all places of worships has also been undertaken. [9]

FATA became a stronghold of the militant organizations like TTP. Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched to eliminate terrorism and bring reforms in the region. Army played a key role in managing internally displaced persons lodged in makeshift camps and in the resettlement of over 15 lacs displaced people and in the reconstruction of destroyed houses and property. The recent merger of FATA with KPK and abolishment of Frontier Crimes Regulations is a milestone achieved by all the major political parties of the country as well as the Army. Only Fazlur Rahman led Jamiatul Islam and Achakzai led PkMAP to have reservations about the merger.

Cellular technology was also exploited by the criminals, terrorists and affiliated organizations. There was no restriction on a person from having a number of Sim cards and the registration process was inadequate to meet the standards. NAP’s point 13 deals with dismantling communication network of terrorists. A colossal exercise was conducted and 98.3 million unregistered and illegal Sim cards were blocked.[10] A new system was introduced by the authorities to streamline the Sim card registration process by working closely with NADRA and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. NACTA has also been granted special permission to block mobile services on special occasions.

NAP has also successfully addressed the growing issues of social media and electronic crime. In order to filter the social media and enable a strong vigilance, a special act of ‘Prevention of Electronic Crime’ was passed in 2016. Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and NACTA are now working closely to monitor the internet traffic, monitoring electronic crimes, and trace and shut down the sites that advocate extremism. Till March 2018, approximately 1447 websites have been blocked which exhibits extremism and hate.[11]

During the 1980s and 1990s, Punjab witnessed a lot of bloodshed and sectarian violence because of fallout effects of 10-year Afghan war followed by civil war in Afghanistan. The growing Punjabi militias also had deep connections with Al-Qaeda and TTP. It was an alarming situation and required a special attention to protect the citizenry of Punjab and other provinces. NAP has shown zero tolerance to these groups in Punjab, and according to the Punjab Home Department Reports, a total of 91,666 combing operations were conducted between 2014-March 2018 all across Punjab, 400 terrorists were hanged under Pakistan Penal Code, 275 terrorists were killed in encounters with Police/CTD/LEAs, 897 were arrested by Police/Counter-Terrorism Departments and 68,957 terrorists were entered in Digital Databank of Police/CTDs.[12]

Metropolis like Karachi was also bleeding at the hands of terrorists and criminals, thanks to MQM-PPP unholy collaboration and involvement of RAW. Sindh Rangers backed by Army and intelligence agencies and NAP have worked hard to bring the Karachi operation to its logical conclusion. The post 2013 era in Karachi witnessed growing peace and stability. In three years only, target killings  decreased by 97%, murder rate decreased by 87%, robberies were decreased by 52%, terrorist activities were decreased by 98%, and the bank robberies  decreased by 72%, overall robberies decreased by 52%.[13]  

Baluchistan also witnessed a policy shift by Islamabad towards it, since the province was lagging behind in literacy, health and other basic facilities. Terrorists, extremists, separatists and other militants filled this developmental vacuum and started exploiting Baluchistan and curbing the state’s writ. In 2009, Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Baluchistan package was launched by the government to ensure Baluchistan’s representation in public institutions and fulfil its demands. For this purpose, scholarships have been allocated to the Baluch students, 13,200 Baluch youth have been inducted in the army and many others were inducted in FIA, Utility Store Corporations, Civil Defence Department, Planning and Development Department, Anti-Narcotics Force and Ministry of Defense. A special quota has also been reserved for the Baluch in all employment. Baluchistan Frontier Corps assisted by Army, other paramilitary forces and police played a commendable role in smothering the dangerous agenda of separatism backed by foreign powers.

In November 2017, a ‘Khushal Baluchistan’ initiative was launched to improve socio-economic as well as security conditions in the province. The government of Baluchistan has also initiated a dialogue with the exiled Baloch separatist leaders. A large number of separatists have given up their weapons, while their reconciliation and rehabilitation is still in process.

Repatriation of Afghan refugees was also a major challenge for the NAP to address. The last federal government approved the Repatriation and Management Policy in February 2017 and NADRA was assigned to identify the illegal Afghan refugees and register an accurate number of refugees present in the country. A tripartite agreement for voluntary repatriation program (the largest program ever recorded by the UNHCR) was also initiated.  Till March 2018, 176,000 cases of illegal immigrants were identified and 1.38 million Afghan refugees were recorded and under Tripartite Agreement around 4.3 million have returned to their homes since 2002.[14]

NAP is being implemented with full commitment and vigour in coordination with all provinces, security agencies and other stakeholders. The effective implementation of NAP has registered significant improvements in overall law and order and internal security situation in the country, including a nose dive decline in terrorist incidents from a high of 2060 terrorist attacks in 2010 to around 370 attacks in 2017. A lot of sweat and blood has gone into this herculean effort. Ordinary Pakistani citizens have also stood behind their police, military and their intelligence agencies, never faltering in their resolve to defeat terrorists and their twisted ideas. While terrorists have been pushed back and areas reclaimed, efforts to defeat militant mindset have already begun as per the vision of the National Action Plan.

While Pakistan Army and ISI fought the war on terror singlehanded under extremely adverse conditions and achieved laudable results in spite of extensive foreign interference, tense civil-military relations, political instability, weak economy, ethnicity, religious divide, lack of rule of law, defects in criminal justice system and sold out media, the US led ISAF in Afghanistan that had military contingents from 48 countries of the world including 28 countries of NATO and had resources in abundance, failed to deliver. Pakistan military helped the ISAF in incapacitating Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan by handing over more than 600 leaders and operatives to the USA.

The US strategic partners India, Afghanistan and Israel have a big role in pushing the US military to the precipice of defeat in Afghanistan and in making the USA the most hated country in the world responsible for making the world a dangerous place to live. Whatever semblance of prestige that was left has been soiled by Donald Trump. He is not only a security risk to the USA but also to the world at large.    

Today, the US and its puppet regime in Kabul are in dire strait and unable to confront the onslaught of spring offensive launched by the Afghan Taliban. Their policy of achieving objectives through the use of excessive force has boomeranged. To cover up their embarrassment and hide their ineptness, fiascos and botches, Pakistan has been made into a convenient scapegoat and is held responsible for all their failures. Continued instability in Afghanistan is attributed to so-called safe havens of Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban in Pakistan. So far not a single hideout has been pointed out since there is none. To maximize pressure, India has kept the Line of Control in Kashmir hot, is breaking all records of human rights violations in occupied Kashmir and has resorted to water terrorism. Kabul has been poised aggressively toward Pakistan.

‘Do more” mantra was sung by the USA for years and Pakistani leaders did its bidding obediently, naively thinking that by doing so it will make Pakistan safe. Gen Bajwa put an end to it by refusing to play their dirty game aimed at bleeding Pakistan and making it a failed state. He said that Pakistan has done enough and will not do any more and its now the turn of others to do more. His defiance is being described as ‘Bajwa doctrine’.

Finding themselves in a big dilemma, Pakistan was constantly threatened by Indo-US-Afghan nexus of dire consequences if it didn’t change its defiant stance. India and USA have been making efforts to place Pakistan on blacklist by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) this month so that the US and UN could impose sanctions.   And when Pakistan didn’t budge, the belligerent regimes in Washington and Kabul descended from their high horses and entreated Pakistan to help in achieving temporary peace in Afghanistan.

Monstrous Fazlullah who was enjoying the hospitality and patronage of CIA, NDS and RAW since July 2009 was droned on June 14 in his safe haven of Kunar so as to earn the goodwill of Pakistan. His death will make little difference since another monster Mufti Noor Wali Mahsud has replaced him and safe havens at Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar are still intact, while Khalid Khurasani heading Jamaatul Ahrar, Faqir Muhammad heading TTP Bajaur chapter and Mangal Bagh heading Lashkar-e-Islam are under their good care.

Besides the fractured TTP, the US has brought in Daesh (ISIS) to reinvigorate war on terror in Pakistan. Fencing of the border is being objected to and fence erectors often fired upon. Pakistan is also subjected to 5th generation war to create divisions in society, inject political instability, chaos and anarchy and foment civil war.  The focus of enemies of Pakistan is on Pak Army and ISI, the two institutions that could not be penetrated.

The sole aim of sponsored Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) led by Pashteen Mehsud is to undermine the achievements and sacrifices of the Army and to discredit it in the eyes of the Pashtuns in particular. PTM is being backed by India, Afghanistan, USA, West and Israel as well as by Asfand Wali led ANP, PkMAP, NGOs and liberals in Pakistan.

The effects of the 5th generation silent war are being felt by the people of Pakistan that have largely been mind-cloned through media war. Intolerance levels have peaked, while polarization among the mainstream parties has climaxed. Despite the sustained bashing of PML-N and the dice is heavily loaded in favour of PTI, the former bereft of its leader is still intact and ready to contest the elections.  For the first time, there is infighting among all the major political parties over the distribution of tickets for general elections due on July 25. With the political temperature touching boiling point, it is feared that there might be bloody clashes during the election campaign and on polling day or after the announcement of results. Analysts are not ruling out the possibility of occurrence of a political logjam due to a hung parliament, or the losers refusing to accept poll results and opting for strikes and arson.

What makes things ominous for Pakistan is the dangerous agenda of enemies of Pakistan which under no circumstances would allow nuclear Muslim Pakistan knotted with China due to CPEC and other mutually beneficial geo-strategic interests and inclined to get aligned with Russia to become militarily strong and to achieve political stability and economic prosperity. The CPEC is isolating USA, India and Afghanistan and is paving the way for the emergence of China-Russia-Pakistan-Iran-Central Asia economic bloc. Under the circumstances, it is vital for the interim government under Nasirul Mulk to hold timely, transparent, fair and free elections and for the Army to ensure law and order and smooth political transition.

References    

[1]       The sun has set on Pakistan’s military courts — here’s why it should never rise again, https://www.dawn.com/news/1306792, Mar 06, 2017.

[2]       More than 180 convicts sentenced to death by military tribunals in Pakistan since 2015, March 18, 2018

        https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/03/18/more-than-180-convicts-sentenced-to-death-by-military-tribunals-in-pakistan-since-2015/

[3]       Directorate Office of NACTA.

[4]       Cultivating Peace National Action Plan, NACTA Report, 21 March 2018.

[5]       Ibid.

[6]       426 cases of money laundering registered: NACTA,https://timesofislamabad.com/03-Feb-2018/426-cases-of-money-laundering-registered-nacta, 03 Feb 2018

[7]       Cultivating Peace National Action Plan, NACTA Report, 21 March 2018

[8]       Cultivating Peace National Action Plan, NACTA Report, 21 March 2018

[9]       Rukhshan Mir, 100 % Geo-mapping Of Religious Seminaries In ICT, Punjab, Sindh Completed, , https://www.urdupoint.com/en/pakistan/100-geo-mapping-of-religious-seminaries-in-257202.html08th February 2018.

[10]     Saad Ahmed Dogar, What has NAP achieved so far?

        https://tribune.com.pk/story/1307640/nap-achieved-far/January 30, 2017

[11]     Cultivating Peace National Action Plan, NACTA Report, 21 March 2018

[12]     Directorate office of Punjab Home Department

[13]     Cultivating Peace National Action Plan, NACTA Report, 21 March 2018

[14]     Ibid.

 

The writer is a retired Brig Gen, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist and author of five books. He is Vice Chairman Pakistan Thinkers Forum, Director Measac Research Centre and member of Executive Committee Tehrik Jawanan Pakistan. Email: asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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