By Sajjad Shaukat
At present, our country and security forces are facing suicide attacks, bomb blasts, sectarian violence and targeted-killings coupled with intermittent battles with the militants. Besides civilian casualties, more than three thousand military soldiers and police men have become martyrs in war against terrorism, while maintaining the integrity of the federation.
According to the Finance Division’s statement, Pakistan’s economy suffered a loss of more than Rs 2.1 trillion due to the ongoing war on terror. The economy suffered direct and indirect losses in terms of exports, foreign investment, privatization, industrial production and tax collection. Besides, Pakistan’s economy has so far suffered irreparable loss of $68 billion due to turmoil in Afghanistan, and Afghan refugees.
It is on record that Pakistan is the only country which has sacrificed more than NATO and USA including other countries in war against terrorism. At this critical juncture, when our country has continuously been facing political instability, economic crisis and social strife, the question, how to fight terrorism in Pakistan needs special attention.
Terrorism in Pakistan took origin owing to various inter-related problems such as poverty, political and economic injustices which created regional disparities. In wake of these problems, after 9/11 tragedy, Islamabad joined American war on terror as the country had no other option as Pakistan was also facing hostile factor of India.
As regards Pakistan, terrorism can be fought on two fronts— by eliminating poverty and by using force where necessity arises.
Regarding poverty, political experts agree that poverty is the root cause of terrorism. And it is said that “a hunger man is an angry man.” Notably, majority of people in Pakistan are living below poverty line, and have no clean dinking water. While especially for the youngsters, unemployment has made the matter worse. In these adverse circumstances, some people go to the level of extremism and even commit suicide. These are the people whose services are hired by the terrorist groups and foreign secret agencies such as Indian RAW, American CIA and Israeli Mossad as they become vulnerable to terrorism.
It is notable that Pakistan is an agricultural country; therefore, our government should make efforts to develop this sector including cottage industry. Our agriculture also provides raw material to the industrial sector. Without any doubt, these efforts will play a crucial role not only in providing employment to the millions of people but will also eliminate poverty in the country.
In the modern era of technology and internet, technical education has become necessity of every under-developed and developing country. So Pakistan’s government should particularly emphasise the need of technical education by promoting it. In this respect, more institutes should be opened in order to promote technical education.
It is of particular attention that Pakistan’s tribal areas have become focus of terrorism as their people are more vulnerable to extremism. Hence, joint efforts of the government as well as the moderates are needed so as to fight terrorism. But billions of dollars are required to develop these under-developed regions. In this context, although America has pledged to spend money for the development of Pakistan’s tribal areas, yet the same is not enough. So the US and other western countries must give maximum aid which could be used in the tribal regions for providing infrastructure, education and employment.
It is mentionable that there are two types of terrorists—extremists and moderates. In order to cope with terrorism, our government should neuteralise the moderate terrorists through reconciliation by offering them general pardon and asking them to renounce terrorism. Even extremist insurgents can be offered mediation. Nevertheless, those militants who reject the offer could be fought through military operations.
Military paradigm is another element to fight terrorism. In this respect, Pakistan’s armed forces have already broken the backbone of the Taliban militants through successful military operations which have been conducted in Buner, Dir, Swat and South Waziristan. These operations still keep ongoing in some tribal areas. In this context, it is worth-mentioning that public support to military operations is very essential, and without people’s backing no army can win this ‘different war’ against terrorism.
Regarding public support, it was a good a sign that in the recent past, an all-parties conference (APC) had vowed to unite the nation against insurgency in Swat and Malakand, and to end terror, condemning all violent challenges to the constitution and the state. Besides liberal groups—even religious scholars and organizations all over the countries have strongly favoured the military operations, while condemning the anti-Islamic activities and brutalities of the Taliban. Nevertheless, this support to the military action against the terrorists must continue.
Another notable point is that most of the Taliban militants have been destabilizing Pakistan with the help of external elements. In this connection, secret agencies like CIA, RAW and Mossad are well-established in Afghanistan from where; their secret agents have been regularly supplying arms and money to the militants including their other Pakistani agents with a view to weakening Pakistanwhich is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. They have been using various covert tactics in conducting suicide attacks, targeted killings and inciting sectarian violence in Pakistan in general and Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa in particular. They also support separatism in Balochistan where similar sort of violence continues unabated. In this connection, first of all US must itself abandon the double game which it has been playing with Islamabad. Then Washington must pressurize India including Israel to wind up their anti-Pakistan terror-network from Afghanistan.
It is noteworthy that on January 27, this year an American employee of the US Consulate in Lahore, identified as Raymond David, shot dead two Pakistani youths, while a third was crushed by the driver of a Parado jeep, who was called by him for help. Persons, sitting in the jeep were also carrying weapons. Police arrested Raymond after a chase and registered a case against him on two counts, while a case was also registered against unidentified people. While pressurizing Islamabad, The United States has called for the immediate release of Raymond David claiming that Pakistani authorities have detained the diplomat unlawfully and in violation of international law. On the other side, investigators and experts are of the opinion that Raymond is murderer and is a CIA agent who does not qualify for immunity from prosecution. However, America should end its coercive diplomacy as Pakistan is a frontline state for the US war against terrorism.
Nonetheless, for their on global and regional interests, US-led western allies must not only increase the military and economic aid of Pakistan but also provide direct market access to Pak products on zero rate duty to help stabilise the country’s bleak economy in the wake of the war against terror.
As Pakistan has been successfully coping with the menace of terrorism, US-led some western countries including India should also give up their propaganda campaign against Islamabad and blame game against its intelligence agency ISI.
Notably, earlier the US President Barrack Obama had recognised an inter-relationship between war against terrorism in Afghanistan and issue of Kashmir. He had repeatedly said that the US should help in resolving the Kashmir dispute to deal with the problem of militancy in the region. Quite contrarily, he backed out from his earlier statement. In this regard, US and other major powers should help in resolving the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India.
In order to fight terrorism, Pakistan’s media should play a key role. It must point out the criminal activities of the militants like hostage-taking, killing of the innocent people— torching the government buildings including girl schools and car-snatching. It should also indicate that Islam is a religion of peace and does not allow suicide attacks.
As Pakistan is already facing various crises of grave nature in wake of terrorism, so our politicians must stop manipulating the same for their own self-interests. By setting aside their differences and by showing power of tolerance, both our rulers and opposition parties need to act upon a policy of national reconciliation to cope with the problem of terrorism and to stand before external pressure. In this respect, all the opposition parties must participate in the round table conference, called by the president of Pakistan.
Finally, our politicians, general masses and security forces must show a strong sense of unity to fight terrorism.
Sajjad Shaukat is a regular writer for Opinion Maker. He writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.