Fighting terrorism By Malik Muhammad Ashraf

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While there are no two opinions about the fact that our valiant security forces and law enforcing agencies have broken the back of the terrorists and cleared Pakistani territory of their outfits, they still retain their ability to stage attacks on symbols of state power and civilians. Of late, Balochistan seems to be their preferred target. The province has been in the grip of sectarian and separatist terrorism for a long time. The cold-blooded murder of 11 miners belonging to the Hazara community carried out by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in collaboration with Daesh was preceded by the attack on an FC post in Harnai on the night of December 26, 2020, in which 7 FC soldiers were martyred and an assault on a convoy of security forces in Omara in October in which several soldiers and security guards were martyred; this suggests that the fight against terrorists is not yet over.

These incidents, however, in no way reflect on the dedication and commitment of the nation and its security forces to eliminate this scourge. DG ISPR, in a presser revealed that during the last twenty years, 1200 operations were conducted to root out terror outfits killing 18000 of them besides eliminating and capturing 1100 Al Qaeda operatives. Pakistan also shared intelligence with 70 countries. The effort, according to him, cost the country 83000 lives including civilians and security personnel and financial loss to the tune of $126 billion. He also asserted that over 3,71,000 intelligence-based operations were conducted under operation Radd-ul-Fasad and resultantly, terrorists’ support bases, their facilitators, abettors and financiers have been eliminated and no organised terrorist infrastructure exists in Pakistan. He claimed that terrorist incidents had declined by 45 percent and over 50 percent terrorist threats were averted during the last year. Similarly, Karachi has witnessed a decline of 95 percent in incidents of terrorism, 98 percent in target killing, 99 percent in extortion and 98 percent in kidnapping for ransom.

The dilemma is that terrorism in Pakistan has both internal and external dimensions. As for as Balochistan is concerned, it is India which is supporting the insurgency and acts of terrorism in the province. Indian involvement was corroborated by Kulbushan Sudhir Jhadav, a serving commander in the Indian Navy who was arrested on March 3, 2016 in Balochistan while crossing over from Iran in a counter-intelligence operation. He was found in possession of a valid Indian passport with a fake name of Hussain Mubarak. During the investigation, Jhadav confessed to the Indian intelligence agency RAW being involved in destabilising Pakistan and he was a serving officer of the Indian Navy working in Pakistan at its behest. He also acknowledged that he launched covert operations against Pakistan from the Iranian port of Chabahar for which he used to get instructions from Joint Secretary of RAW Anil Gupta. According to him, RAW had been funding the Baloch separatists for carrying out their insurgency operations. Kulbushan also admitted that he had been directing various activities in Sindh and Balochistan on directions from RAW since 2013 and had a role in the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi.

He was awarded the death sentence by a military court after due process of law. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at Hague announced its verdict on the Kulbushan Jhadav case; while rejecting Indian plea for annulment of the military court decision of awarding death sentence to him and ordering his release and repatriation to India, it observed, “Though Pakistan had been found in violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Access it is not the conviction and sentence of Mr Jhadav which are to be regarded as violation of Article 36 of Vienna Convention.” The verdict was a confirmation of the Indian involvement in supporting and sponsoring of terrorism in Pakistan.

RAW, in collaboration with the Afghan intelligence agency, NDS, has also been helping and supporting the TTP in carrying out acts of terrorism in Pakistan. Irrefutable corroborative evidence exists about the use of Afghan soil concerning APS and Badaber Airbase attacks.

The situation left no choice for Pakistan but to take a unilateral decision to fence the entire border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and set up watch posts to check cross-border movement of the terrorists. Reportedly, 83 percent of the fencing of the 2611 km border with Afghanistan has been completed so far and the rest is likely to be completed mid-year. Similarly, 37 percent of fencing along the Pak-Iran border has also been established.

The foregoing revelations amply prove that our security forces and intelligence apparatus is dealing with the scourge of terrorism in an effective manner and the government is trying to eliminate the scourge by all means with unflinching resolve. But it is regrettable to note that whenever a terrorist attack or incident occurs, certain elements start blaming it on an intelligence failure and the government also comes under unwarranted flak. Those indulging in such criticism do not understand that we are fighting against an invisible enemy. If we look at the history of countries which had to face the scourge of terrorism and how long it took them to eliminate and subdue the menace, it can be safely inferred from their experience that there is no quick fix solution to it. For them, fighting terrorism has invariably been a long drawn-out war with debilitating social, economic and political consequences. Italy and Sri Lanka are examples in recent history. Pakistan may also have to brace for a long-term fight against terrorism due to the complexities involved. But given the commitment and unswerving resolve of our security forces and the government as well as unstinted support of the masses, we would by the grace of God emerge triumphant in this battle.