NationalVolume 13 Issue # 24

How to defeat the existential threat

Pakistan is bleeding again. Terrorists have killed more than 175 innocent people, including three prominent politicians, and injured around 200 others in three separate bomb attacks. All these terror attacks occurred in the space of a little over 72 hours and less than two weeks before the general elections.

On July 10, Haroon Bilour, a candidate from PK-78 Peshawar, and 19 others were killed in an attack targeting the ANPs election meeting. Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. The TTP had also claimed responsibility of the killing of Bashir Bilour, Haroon Bilour’s father, in 2012.

On July 13, the convoy of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA)’s candidate from NA-35 Bannu, Akram Khan Durrani, came under attack. In this attack, Akram Khan Durrani, former chief minister, remained safe but four of his supporters lost their lives. Later in the afternoon, a suicide bomber targeted a meeting of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) candidate from PB-35 Mastung, Nawabzada Siraj Raisani. In the attack, Nawabzada Siraj Raisani along with around 150 others, were killed and over 200 injured. The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the attack. The Mastung attack is the deadliest terror attack in the country since the attack on Army Public School Peshawar in 2014. These terror attacks have stunned and saddened the nation again. The federal government observed Sunday (15th July) as a day of national mourning over these attacks in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

These terror attacks manifest the following:

1: Militant organisations like the TTP and ISIS and their supporters have not yet been extirpated in Pakistan. Whenever the militants get a chance, they attack and kill innocent people.  So, the claim, that the back of the militancy has been broken, has proven wrong. Thus, in spite of rendering matchless sacrifices and suffering huge loses, “the war against terror” is not yet over.

2: These terrorist organisations stepped up their terror attacks against politicians belonging to all parties clearly to disrupt the elections. With these attacks, the militants created fear and a sense of insecurity among the politicians. In the elections of 2008 and 2013, the militants adopted the same policy. In fact, the real intention of the terrorists was to compel the government to cancel the elections. But, the state and the nation foiled the terrorists’ plan by holding elections on time. By conducting the elections, the state has also shown its supreme power and will against the hidden enemy.  The terrorists have not been allowed to derail the democratic process in the country.

3: With the Mastung attack, the presence of Da’esh in Pakistan, now, cannot be denied. Da’esh has already established its cells across the country. The ISIS presence clearly shows that a conspiracy is in full swing across Pakistan. There are many external forces which want to destabilise the country. They are using ISIS, the TTP and other militant organisations to achieve their nefarious design.  Senator Rehman Malik, a former interior minister of Pakistan, writes in the Nation: “The claim of Khalid Khorasani, being the head of Da’esh Pakistan regarding the presence of Daesh in Pakistan should have been an eye-opener for the then government, which rather than facing the reality chose to brush it aside for political reasons… The current acts of terrorism are being planned and engineered from Afghanistan and the Da’esh-trained terrorists are being used by them. The geo-location of Khalid Khorasani has been reported at Kunar in Afghanistan. An American journalist was seriously injured when she had traced the location of Ikram Ullah and Fazal Ullah. She met this writer with her local Pakistani-based assistant a few weeks ago and she narrated the whole episode. There is a question in the minds of the public as to why Daesh is once again so active in KPK and Balochistan? The analysis, based on available evidence, which this writer made public vide a press conference dated 23 August, 2017, wherein the anti- Pakistan plan was revealed, to create a wedge within KPK and FATA by creating groups and this was propagated through a specially launched radio station which was shut down by Pak intelligence. Similarly, under the same plan the anti- Pak groups were reenergised and activated. We witnessed more training camps of Da’esh in Afghanistan and increased terroristic activities engineered from Afghanistan. This anti-Pak plan was exposed by a prominent USA analyst while being interviewed by Russian TV, which is part of an international media record. This shows that there is a greater agenda of the West to attempt to disintegrate our country and the nation witnessed unprecedented moves against the federation and especially the Pakistan Army, which were fully backed by a newly established radio station and hype in the international media to discredit Pakistan. Briefly, Da’esh is following the Indian RAW agenda under PM Modi duly supported by Afghanistan… After the arrest of RAW agent Kulbhushan Yadev there is no doubt left as to how India is involved in destabilising Pakistan…Is it not an eye opener that when Nawaz Sharif decides to return to Pakistan on 12th July, the Da’esh selects the same day to use suicide bombers to create fear and to kill two renowned leaders, one from KPK and one from Balochistan? See the links of these two happenings on the same day”.

4:  These  attacks clearly show that all the previous governments have failed to chalk out a comprehensive national security policy. They have relied on short-term responses to tackle such a threatening menace. To preserve their political interests, they have not implemented the NAP fully. Even our security agencies have used religious extremism to protect their interests in the region. Due to these factors, extremism is ascendant. All the institutions are declining rapidly and the writ of the state is eroding. Pakistan needs an effective governance based on security and justice, if it needs to stop the rapid drift towards lawlessness and failure.

Tariq Khosa, a former IG Police and author of The Faltering State, has given six points to solve Pakistan’s problems. He writesFirst, Pakistan must stop harbouring a massive insecurity complex. As a nuclear state with the world’s sixth largest army, we should be confident and end our garrison-state mentality and constant worrying about survival. Rather, we should be a trading nation that takes advantage of its geographic location for economic prosperity. Second, there is no doubt in the writer’s mind that the relevant stakeholders in the state security establishment have finally undertaken to end support for erstwhile militant jihadi groups that was given on account of strategic compulsions that are counterproductive in the present milieu. The time for proxies is over; being blacklisted by FATF would result in international isolation, sanctions and the stigma of a pariah state. Third, we must adhere to the rule of law and guarantee individual rights. The issues of missing persons and enforced disappearances are of grave concern, as is the fact that dissenting voices are being muzzled. Fourth, social justice must be ensured for all citizens, irrespective of caste, creed or ethnicity. The elite have pushed the poor into deplorable conditions that engender violence and crime, and leave the youth vulnerable to manipulation by extremist forces. Fifth, we must cultivate tolerance for national harmony. Our strength lies in being a diverse polity. Its potential can create a dynamic human resource, but channelling such energy requires a guiding hand rather than a draconian fist. The state should show magnanimity and grace in order to resolve disputes through tolerant dialogue. Similarly, the state should enable citizens to practise their religions freely. Our Constitution’s framers consciously avoided giving enforcement powers to the state in matters of faith. They must resist becoming a theocratic instrument of a dogmatic brigade. Leaders must set the tone for a national narrative that shuns violence and promotes tolerance. Sixth, institutions must take precedence over individuals. The police, judiciary, civil armed forces, intelligence agencies and the military must have the courage to uphold the rule of law and neutralize individuals who think themselves above the law. All these institutions need to get together and carve out a charter of governance that defines their roles and restraints within their constitutional mandate. In conclusion, such a framework revolves around security, sovereignty and sustainability. Security implies the state’s monopoly over the use of force, and elimination of domestic threats like terrorism. Sovereignty implies effective reach of law enforcement throughout the country, use of armed forces in aid of civil authorities, and parliament taking the lead on national security. Sustainability entails socioeconomic justice, quality public education, a counter-extremism narrative, good governance and the rule of law. In October 1947, the Quaid-i-Azam stated, ‘We should have a state in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play.’ In another address a few days later, he said to our fledgling nation, ‘My message to you all is of hope, courage and confidence. Let us mobilise all our resources … and tackle the grave issues that confront us with grim determination and discipline worthy of a great nation.’ Let his dream not go sour”.

5: It is very tragic that the electronic media did not perform its duty professionally on the tragic Mastung day. It blacked out the incident and gave more time to broadcast Nawaz Sharif’s homecoming, which was a signal failure. It is the duty of the media, electronic and print, that it should inculcate the feelings of unity and resistence among the people by broadcasting special programmes on Mastung- like tragic incidents. It should also dispel rumours, disinformation and misconception which the enemies of Pakistan are spreading.