- ISPR DG says military has come to the conclusion that terrorism cannot be fought until accomplices and facilitators of terrorists are not eliminated
- Army presents ‘facilitators’ of Bacha Khan University attack before media
The Pakistani military on Saturday said that it had come to the conclusion that terrorism cannot be fought while there are accomplices and facilitators of terrorists present in the country, as it presented the ‘facilitators’ of terrorists involved in the attack on the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda earlier this week.
The suspected facilitators were brought before the media after which Lt General Asim Bajwa, the director general of the military’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) shared details of the probe into the January 20 brutal attack on the university in which at least 21 people, including 18 students and a professor were killed by four AK-47 wielding Taliban gunmen affiliated with the TTP’s Tariq Geedar Group..
The press briefing began with a recorded telephone conversation between the ‘terrorists and a reporter’ with the militants claiming responsibility for the attack.
The reporter was receiving the call from a Pakistani phone while the call came from an Afghan phone and an Afghan SIM, according to the DG ISPR who added that, “This attack involved four terrorists, all of whom were killed, and four accomplices.”
‘Attack preparations done in Afghanistan’:
Lt Gen Bajwa said the terrorists did their preparations near Torkham checkpost area in Afghanistan, then they crossed the border using public transport and travelled to Mardan —looking like “common people”.
He also presented a map of Mardan and Charsadda showing the alleged movement of the attackers.
“After entering Mardan, these terrorists were received by Adil and Riaz,” the DG ISPR said while showing the location of the “two men’s houses/hideouts on the Mardan-Charsadda road, where the terrorists were kept”.
“Adil is a labourer. A few days ago he was doing some masonry work in the university, and made a map of the university so he could explain it to the attackers. He also helped the attackers figure out their way into the university.”
These facilitators helped the terrorists embark a rickshaw and travel to nearby Imbrahimzai University, where they dismounted and then travelled to Bacha Khan University, the ISPR director general said.
Bajwa said that progress has also been made in identifying the finance trail, which he said will be shared once the investigation is complete.
Society must play its part:
“We have come to the conclusion that terrorism cannot be fought while there are accomplices and facilitators,” Lt Gen Bajwa adding that, “terrorism is a problem being faced by the whole world, but all societies play their own role.”
He also requested people to be aware of their surroundings. “All institutions must play their part, all societies must play their part.”
Responding to a question, Bajwa said that at no point had the Afghan government been blamed for the attack. “We only said that the attack was planned and handled from Afghan soil.”
Answering another question regarding the Pak-Afghan border he said that, “Border management is an issue. Border management issue is brought up every time we have a meeting with Afghanistan. We have to work on it.”
“Even developed countries like United States have these challenges — look at the US-Mexico border. Our border management will improve with time, we are working on it. We are also talking to people in tribal agencies and asking them to remain vigilant.”
The January 20 attack was claimed by mastermind of the APS Peshawar attack, Umar Mansoor, of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Geedar group.
A spokesperson from the TTP, Mohammad Khorasani, on the other hand had issued a conflicting statement shortly after Mansoor’s claim, in which Khorasani condemned the attack, terming it “against Shariah”.
Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif later telephoned Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and shared with him investigation details of the Charsadda attack and also asked him to help in tracing the attackers.
Gen Raheel also shared the details of the attack with Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and commander of Resolute Support Mission and United States Forces in Afghanistan Gen John Campbell.
Earlier in the day, Army chief General Raheel chaired a ‘special security meeting’ at the Corps Headquarters, Peshawar, according to a statement issued by the ISPR.
The meeting reviewed operations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) as well as the `Intelligence Based Operations` (IBOs), Pak-Afghan border management and the progress into the attack on the Bacha Khan University.
The meeting was attended by Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman, Director General (DG) Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar, DG Military Intelligence (MI), director general of military operations (DGMO) and DG ISPR among other high-ranking officials of the Pakistan Army.