Re-evaluate NAP’s execution strategy

1 Mar

Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

THE bloody terrorist attacks in Awaran, Quetta, Mohmand, Lahore, Peshawar and Sehwan during the last week have traumatized the entire nation. The resurgence of terrorist activities alarms us about the revival of terrorist networks with the country. Are we losing the battle against radicalised extremists? Even if we are not losing the battle against the terrorism, we are not succeeding in ending the terrorist network. The recent terrorist attacks and subsequent developments manifest that Government of Pakistan needs to reevaluate its National Action Plan’s execution strategy and bilateral relations with Afghanistan.
The Government has adopted both military-centric approach and people-centric approach to destroy terrorist physical and popular centuries. However, the country’s ruling elite has failed to end the political/diplomatic support to the terrorist groups. Hence, despite the successfulof Zarb-e-Azb military operation, terrorist groups were successful to bleed innocent non-combatant Pakistanis. They are having sanctuaries across the border in Afghanistan. According to the intelligence reports terrorist groups have been receiving financial and intelligence support from both Afghan NDS and Indian RAW. Combating the menace of terrorism and quashing terrorist networks necessitate both vigilance, cooperation of the people and convergence of the opinion among the political parties. Secondly, the holistic approach ought to be adopted in the entire country. The government’s reluctance to allow Rangers to conduct an operation against the militant groups in Punjab germinates misperception among the people of Pakistan. The political parties, equally, seem frustrated from the Government’s anti-terrorism efforts. On February 18, 2017, Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Khurshid Shah expressed his reservations on the implementation of the National Action Plan.
Although the terrorist facilitators belong to our own society, yet they are not effective without the external political and economic support. On February 13, 2017, Pakistan’s permanent representative at United Nations, New York, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi while speaking at UNSC asserted: “What Pakistan continues to face today are externally supported terrorists.” The ISPR spokesman categorically stated on February 17, 2017: “Recent terrorist acts are being executed on directions from hostile powers and from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. We shall defend and respond.” Islamabad shared the intelligence information with Kabul and requested it end the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and its subsidiary Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, sanctuaries located inside Afghanistan. The Afghan diplomats were summoned in General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and handed over a list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists by Pakistan Army. The response of Kabul is not encouraging.
The Afghan Government seems disinclined to support Pakistan. Instead of handing over 76 wanted terrorists, the Afghan government issued its own demand list. “The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan once again demands Pakistan to take practical measures and initiate effective counter-terrorism efforts against all those terrorist groups which operate in Pakistan and pose a threat to security and stability of Afghanistan.” Kabul’s hostile attitude obliged Islamabad to take punitive actions for sake of security. It announced closing of border crossings and also ordered to show zero tolerance to illegal crossing. Frontier Corps spokesman announced: “Shooting order has been issued to the security forces for those… found trying to enter… Pakistan illegally from any area of the border.”
Pakistan Army targeted the TTP and JuA sanctuaries located near Afghanistan-Pakistan border on the side of Afghanistan. Admittedly, without these inflexible border management arrangements, checking the infiltration of TTP and JuA radicalised terrorists is difficult. It is equally, however, counterproductive. Is the knee-jerk reaction is haphazard and ill-thought-out? It would not only further deteriorate Pakistan bilateral relations with Afghanistan, but also enrage the people living on both sides of Pak-Afghan border. Thus, the repercussions of border management cannot be taken lightly.
The continuity of mistrust between Afghanistan and Pakistan is in the advantage of terrorist syndicate, which freely use former territory for perpetrating terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Realistically speaking, Kabul has lesser control in the peripheral areas of Afghanistan. Therefore, it may not be able to arrest 76 most wanted terrorists hiding in Afghanistan. Hence, instead of simply accusing we chalk out a practical strategy to engage Afghan ruling elite and convince it to restraint its National Intelligence Directorate from cooperating with Indian RAW and supporting TTP and JuA. It is an open secret that India has been using Afghanistan to support terrorist activities in Pakistan. Former US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel pointed out:” India has always used Afghanistan for its own war and is creating problems against Pakistan from Afghanistan.” Pakistan needs to terminate the nexus between Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies against it.
Simultaneously, one needs to be rational while dealing with Afghan refuges. According to reports the Pakistan’ successfully repatriated 650,000 Afghan refugees. In reality, they are also victim of ‘Great Game in Afghanistan’. They have been living in Pakistan since four decades because of the anarchical situation in their country. The declaring or treating Afghan refugees ‘criminals’ and ‘terrorists’ is neither correct nor wise policy. It does not reflect the correct facts and thereby perilous for Pakistan’s national interest. Precisely, targeting Afghan refuges in Pakistan only divert attention form the actual cause of problem. Therefore, the law enforcement agencies ought to careful in discriminating between criminals and innocents.
In addition, transformation in the global politics is also obliging Islamabad to chalkout a vigilant and realistic domestic and foreign policies for the pursuit of its national interest. Indeed, such a situation necessitates harmonious thinking within the society and state and also obliges ruling elite to take firm and decisive actions against terrorists and their facilitators.
— The writer is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.
Email: jaspal_99@hotmail.com

 

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