The right move
It is needless to emphasise that terrorism is the gravest and the most formidable challenge facing the country at the moment which requires impregnable resolve and commitment by the government, security forces, law enforcing agencies, politicians, religious scholars and the masses so that the terrorist entities do not succeed in their nefarious designs to harm the country. This war has to be fought against the internal enemies of the country both physically and ideologically by developing a counter narrative to the dogma that the terrorists are preaching and trying to implement as well as the external players who are sponsoring and abetting terrorism in Pakistan. In fact it is the external dimension to terrorism that makes it quite difficult to effectively deal with it. There is also an imperative need for the people, media and other stakeholders to understand that the phenomenon of terrorism cannot be eliminated in a short span of time as there is no quick-fix solution available to tackle it. The nation might have to brace for continuation of such attacks till the time the last vestige of the terrorists is taken out and the machinations of the foreign forces are neutralized.
Under the prevailing circumstances, it is encouraging to note that the government, security and law enforcement agencies which have rendered unparalleled sacrifices to defend the motherland against the onslaught of the terrorists, have not shown any sign of fatigue or frustration and seem more determined than ever before to get rid of the menace of terrorism. Their valour and sangfroid are exemplary. Operation Zarb-e-Azb and NAP in spite of the sensitivities involved have surely led to decrease in the terrorist attack by 80% which by any reckoning deserves unqualified accolades for the government and the security forces. The job is not finished yet, as is evident by the recent spate of attacks carried out by Jamat ul Ahrar which is based in Afghanistan and also enjoys Indian support.
It was in the backdrop of the recent terrorist attacks and the available intelligence with the government and the security agencies that a vigorous country wide crack-down against the terrorists, their supporters and facilitators was launched and training camps of the terrorists on the Afghan soil along the border were pounded to scuttle their ability to resort to retaliatory attacks within Pakistan. But it is indeed regrettable to note that certain elements are not happy about it and are terming it a knee-jerk reaction and some political elements are also trying to do politics over these tragic incidents. The government and the security agencies are faced with a situation of “Damned you do it, damned if you don’t”. It were the same elements who have been taking umbrage at the government and the agencies for their alleged inability to ruthlessly strike against the terrorists after every attack that has been happening and now that it has been undertaken, they are critical of it. Some have even termed the action as a parade of foolishness and an emotive reaction to spate of terrorist attacks.
Such responses by the governments are not uncommon whenever a tragedy of enormous proportions like Sehwan Sharif or APS occurs. We have seen the reaction of the European countries in the backdrop of terrorist attacks in France and elsewhere. It is important to raise the ante against the terrorists in the wake of such attacks and to send a loud and clear message to them that they will be made to pay for their egregious crimes. Operation “Radd ul Fasaad” is a right move to deal with the terrorists elements, along with fighting them on the ideological front.
The situation in Pakistan on the internal front is indeed very convoluted and tricky. The Jihadi and militant culture which was encouraged and allowed to penetrate the social fabric for well over three decades, is now well entrenched. The terrorist outfits now fighting against the state have emerged from the womb of those jihadi and militant organizations and undoubtedly have a wide-spread following and support for their narrative in the country. That is why it is important to deal with the phenomenon ideologically by developing a counter narrative to their dogma which will entail a long term effort on the part of the government and all segments of the society, particularly the media and religious leaders.
It is wrong to suggest that the government lacked the will and commitment to eradicate terrorism and that it had no well considered and nationally owned policy to deal with the curse of terrorism. It is conveniently neglected by the critics and avowed detractors of the government and the security agencies that the government does have a framework of NAP to deal with the terrorists on the internal front and it was drawn up by the government, the security establishment and all the political entities. There might be certain areas and elements of the plan where the pace of implementation is not as quick as desired due to a number of debilitating factors but it is absolutely unfair to claim that NAP has not been or is not being implemented by the government. The government agencies and ISPR have from time to time been making public the achievements of the security and law enforcement agencies in regards to implementation of NAP as well as intelligence based operations against the terrorists, their supporter and facilitators. The campaign against the terrorist continues unabated. In fact operation “Radd ul Fasaad” also falls within the ambit of the NAP.
Since almost all the terrorist entities involved in terrorist attacks in Pakistan are based in Afghanistan, we need to enlist its cooperation. It is encouraging to note that despite the revival of the blame-game between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the wake of the Sehwan Sharif attack, the military commanders expressed their willingness to work with the Afghan government to fight against the common enemy. Similar vibes have also come from the Afghan side as well. The COAS also spoke to his Afghan counterpart. The reality is that Pakistan and Afghanistan are both victims of terrorism and cooperation between them is indispensable.
We have also seen commitments being expressed to work together to fight the menace of terrorism in the past and agreement between the intelligence outfits of the two countries to share information with each other and to work together for decisive action against the terrorists. But all those commitments have become a casualty of the permeating ambience of mistrust between the two countries. There is a need for sincerity of purpose on both sides to remove the element of mistrust and evolving a collective strategy to deal with terrorism as well as to nudge the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan. Pakistan must do everything within its power to allay misgivings of Afghanistan to engage it in a meaningful dialogue and cooperation on the issue. Afghanistan also needs to realize the gravity of the situation and join hands with Pakistan in its own interest.