IS PAKISTAN DOING ENOUGH TO COMBAT TERRORISM?

Pakistan's Two-track policy

The constant accusation levied against Pakistan for harboring terrorists by U.S. has not discouraged Pakistan from state-sponsoring of terrorism. Afghan officials have alleged that the recent attack launched by the Taliban in Ghazni involved the presence of Pakistan Army and Pakistan’s intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in aid of the terrorist group to sabotage a possible ceasefire between Afghanistan and Taliban and reduce India’s involvement in Afghanistan and expand its influence in the country.

Rise in terrorism despite umpteen ceremonial measures

The National Action Plan introduced in 2015, Pakistan’s permanent membership to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) & The Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), appear to be ceremonial measures which have shown no signs of combatting terrorism.

Also, in the recent years, the Pakistan Army has launched two major operations, namely Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad which have been strategic failures. The powerful military has used the pretext of combating terrorism to set up its own courts that now run parallel to the South Asian country’s civilian judicial system. The military courts have hanged hundreds of terrorists over the past year and a half, claiming that as a “huge blow” to the militant outfits.

The army has also made sure that Zarb-e-Azb & and Radd-ul-Fasaad receive massive media promotion. Consequently, from the ISPR tweets to the military-funded patriotic songs and heaps of praise for the operation from many security analysts, the Pakistani people have been told that peace has been restored all across the country.

However, major flaws in the military’s anti-terror strategy have been exposed.

 Zarb-e-Azb &  Radd-ul-Fasaad a failure

The government has officially acknowledged that IS is trying to make inroads into Pakistan as well. With no details revealed it claimed to avert attacks on Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign embassies, consulates and their staff, Islamabad airport, prominent public figures, media persons and law enforcement personnel. In this situation, many people ask: Is Zarb-e-Azb  & Radd-ul-Fasaad really working?

Aqil Shah, a Pakistani expert and the Wick Cary Assistant Professor of International Affairs at the University of Oklahoma, says that there is a fundamental contradiction in the Pakistani military’s counter-terrorism approach, pointing out that while the army goes after the terrorists who carry out attacks in Pakistan, it patronizes those who attack its enemies.

The army has fought hostile factions of the TTP, but it continues to use other militant groups as proxies against archrival India.  Like the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban, which help maintain Pakistan’s influence over Afghanistan, as well as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which fights Indian security forces in Kashmir.

Arif Jamal, a US-based expert on political Islam, says that the Zarb-e-Azb military operation was never launched to target home-grown jihadists. “Actually, it was aimed at weakening political parties and not eliminating terrorists. Some of the top global terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen’s Yusuf Shah are openly leading public rallies, recruiting jihadists, and fundraising.

International Crisis Group critical of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism measures

 But rights organizations are critical of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism measures. One of the major concerns in a document released last year by the International Crisis Group (ICG) is related to the Pakistani military’s continued dominance over the civilian administration.

“The militarization of counter-terrorism policy puts at risk Pakistan’s evolution toward greater civilian rule, which is itself a necessary but not sufficient condition to stabilize the democratic transition,” the ICG said.

The ICG paper had advised the then PM,  to take matters into his own hands and democratize the anti-terrorism strategy in order to replace an overly militarized response with a revamped, intelligence-guided counter-terrorism strategy, led by civilian law enforcement agencies, particularly the police.

Viewpoint

It is essential that the international community continues its cooperation with Islamabad, but it must not compromise on human rights issues & Afghanistan’s security. Same time it must also keep a strict check on Pakistan Army’s dubious practices in Afghanistan. Decisive movements against terrorism need to be demanded and the suspension of military aid should continue until concrete results are seen on the ground. Pakistan needs to convince the world that it is acting against terrorism and not merely falsifying details of success on ISPR.

 

23 Aug 18/Thursday.              Written by Afsana