By General Mirza Aslam Beg
The attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar was part of ‘Al Qaeda’s revenge.’ On the same day the Nairobi’s shopping mall in Kenya was targeted. Peshawar Church attackers were not the TTP’s guys but they belonged to Al Qaeda’s Jindul Hafza Group which has joined hands with Al-Shabab of Somalia and claimed responsibility for Nairobi attack. Two suicide bombers attacked Peshawar Church, whereas in Nairobi, 7-8 armed men, took part in the attack, shouting that “We are here to take revenge for the killing of Somalian Muslims by the Kenyan and Ethiopian Christian troops.” These incidents provide clear linkage between Peshawar and Nairobi carnages and Ayman-al-Zawahri’s recent statement that “Muslim World continues to suffer as a consequence of attacks by the non-Muslims, therefore Al Qaeda will carry out world-wide vengeance.”
The Al Qaeda of 1980s is not the same as it is now. It was part of the Islamic resistance which defeated Soviets in Afghanistan. The Islamic resistance was estimated at sixty thousand mujahedeen drawn from seventy countries of the world, and about forty thousand came from Pakistan alone. Whereas, Al Qaeda’s total strength was about two-and-a-half thousand. In 1992, Al Qaeda moved to Sudan and returned after Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1996. Al Qaeda did not take part in the armed struggle during the Afghan Jihad and remained focused on development works. The US and Saudi government provided US$ 400 million a year to Al Qaeda for this purpose.
After 9/11, the US has almost eliminated Al Qaeda and according to the CIA, ‘there remained only 150 of them in Afghanistan, Pakistan and some other countries,’ who have recently killed pastors and Christians in Syria and Nigeria. Such attacks could also be mounted in Europe and in the US. This is a new wave of terror which could not be prevented despite strong blows to Al Qaeda over the years. In fact, like the Star Fish, Al Qaeda has grown new heads and wings, of a heterogeneous group of terrorists. “Al Qaeda is bigger now than it ever has been … Besides the Al Qaeda core” – White House report .The world therefore, needs to have a new strategy and a well defined course of action to face this challenge.
Pakistan must identify the real culprits behind such attacks, than being reticent, that “achieving APC objectives now was difficult.” In fact, the prospects for peace process are greater now, because the appeal made by the Ulema, has shown very positive response from all concerned. The drone attack in South Waziristan are an impediment to negotiations because, the objective of US is to keep Pakistan embroiled in fighting with the tribals, forcing deployment of about hundred thousand troops on Afghan borders, which is not in conformity with Quaid-i-Azam’s vision, that “the responsibility of guarding the north-western borders of Pakistan lay with the tribals of the area.” True to Quaid’s expectations, they have successfully defended this border, till we hit them.
Peace negotiations with Taliban are a must. In fact there should be a two pronged approach to negotiations: open dialogue as well as secret contacts. In the process, Pakistan needs to be alert as there are enemies, who want to derail the process. There are several splinter group of TTP and the remnants of the banned organizations, who draw their support and sustenance from their foreign pay masters, and are ever ready to conduct such dastardly attack to sabotage the peace process.
The US wants India as the dominant player in the region from Afghanistan to Bangladesh, while there is a visible shift in their policy in the South Asian region, to achieve their objectives by exploiting internal differences of the Muslims, as it has done to change the government in Egypt and the induced conflict between the Shias and Sunnis in Syria. Unfortunately such exploitable fault lines exist within Pakistan, such as secular versus the religious, the sectarian divide, and the Deobandi-Brelvi divide within the Sunni sect of Pakistan, which causes great vulnerability. In fact we ourselves are to be blamed for creating such absurdities within, which can be exploited by fanning these differences as it was done in Egypt by winning over General Al Sissi’s loyalty, in support of the secularists. We also have amongst us the Mir Jafars and Mir Qasims, ready to collude with our enemies to weaken our resolve. Do we know such elements amongst us, threatening our national security interests?