How to Encounter Terrorism?


By Sajjad Shaukat

Despite the fact that Pakistans law-enforcing agencies and intelligence agencies have thwarted many terror attempts of the militants through pre-arrests, discovery of weapons and huge explosive material, suicide jackets etc., but terrorists keeps on targeting the installations of security forces, intelligence agencies and police including government buildings through bomb blasts, suicide attacks and targeting killings. They are also murdering political and religious leaders in order to fuel ethnic and sectarian violence.

In the recent months, militants high profile subversive activities include attacks on Peshawar Airport, Kamra Air Force Base, the assassination of leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) Bashir Ahmad Bilour, attempt on the life of Malala Yousafzai, blast in Hangu. Besides, they are conducting terror attacks in various cities of the country, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and city of Karachi. In this regard, on February 2, this year, militants martyred 15 soldiers including 25 people at a military camp in Serai Naurang Lakki Marwat, while Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has owned responsibility. Similarly, on January 10, more than 100 people, a majority of whom belonged to the Hazara community lost their lives in the twin bombings in Quetta. The militant group, Lashkar-i-Janghvi claimed responsibility for this deadly attack. In the recent past, sectarian violence erupted in different parts of Karachi, killing more than 30 people after a terror assault on a leader of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and the killing of four men of the group believed to be the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan. A perennial wave of these acts indicates that terrorism has increased in Pakistan.

It is a challenge for the whole nation that various terrorist organisations like Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundollah (Gods soldiers), Lashkar-i-Janghvi, Lashkar-e-Islam,
Sipah-i-Sahaba and some other militant outfits, especially the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) feel pride in murdering the innocent people and killing the personnel of the security forces, while claiming responsibility for their heinous terror assaults. These culprits are free to move inside the country.

Media reported on January 2, this year that while changing professional priorities, Pakistan Army has declared the internal threats such as anti-state terrorist groups as major challenge to the country.

Every Pakistani must understand that unlike the conventional war which was being waged between two sovereign belligerents through traditional armies and intelligence agencies, the arena of aggression has changed. In the present era, non-state actors like terrorists have made it difficult for the security forces to serve alone as the dominant sphere in this different war.

Complex phenomenon of terrorism cannot be left on the security forces and law-enforcing agencies alone, as it is everyones war. There are a number of impediments in fighting war against terrorism, and these must be overcome to encounter terrorists.

No doubt, Pakistans law-enforcing agencies and intelligence organisations which are well-prepared in coping with terrorism are engaged in identifying and locating the terrorist networks and their support bases including informers and accomplices. While remaining vigilant, these agencies have thwarted many terror attempts of the militants through pre-arrests, but were discouraged as their actions were being challenged through courts of law regarding the validity and legality of their decisions. The insurgents lawyers availed the opportunity by indicating procedural penal flaws. Thus many terrorists were freed by the courts due to lack of solid evidence in legal terms, though reality of their subversive activities existed. Due to this practice, efficiency of law-enforcing agencies drops to zero level, giving a greater setback to war against terrorism and making the concerned official insecure in face of judicial grilling.

Terrorist presently under custody, if released by the court due to judicial discourse will certainly join their main terrorist networks, thereby strengthening terrorist groups. Consequently, this new style war will turn in favor of terrorists instead of law-enforcing agencies and intelligence agencies which may suffer more in the hands of terrorists.

In this respect, Pakistans media must recommend to the legislative and law-making authorities to change the complex procedures and evidence-related issues, and to make new laws against terrorists in order to provide the legal cover to law-enforcing and intelligence agencies which are fighting the menace of terrorism. For this purpose, the concerned agencies should be allowed to detain the certain suspected individuals so that the intensity and frequency of occurrence of terrorist activities could be reduced.

While fighting against the militants, Pakistans security forces and intelligence agencies require maintaining high degree of morale and confidence. In this context, our media should appreciate the sacrifices and services of countrys security forces and agencies in their fight against terrorism.

Meanwhile, it is a good move that the National Assembly on December 20, last year passed the Investigation for Fair Trial Bill-2012 so as to provide legal cover to the concerned law-enforcing agencies and intelligence outfits to tape the phone calls and watch the e-mails. The bill envisages that electronic material would now be permissible in the court of law as evidence.

Another impediment in war against terrorism is that by misconception of Islam, terrorist groups manipulate the feelings of innocent Muslims who are naturally prone to favor the cause of Muslims. Hence, they become targets of terrorists propaganda who project their unfair designs in the name of Jihad, and undertake criminal activities of terrorism, inflicting serious loss of innocent lives and damaging property. The militant outfits also recruit very young boys, and after their brainwashing through indoctrination, they train them for suicide bombings. The planners misguide these Muslims by convincing that they will have a noble place in the Heavens in exchange of suicide attacks.

However, Islam considers killing one innocent person equal to murdering the entire humanity, while jihad is a sacred obligation, but its real spirit needs to be understood clearly, as targeting innocent women and children is not jihad. These Taliban and their banned affiliated groups are defaming Islam which is the religion of peace, democracy, moderation and human rights.

In this connection, 50 Islamic scholars and muftis of the Sunni Ittehad Council have issued a joint fatwa (edict) on February 7, 2013, and unanimously declared killing of innocent people, target killings and suicide bombingsin Karachi and Balochistan, along with sectarianism as against the spirit of Islam. They added that those involved in the killing of innocent people are condemned to hell. Their Fatwa also declared, The suicides attacks and related violence smeared the name of Islam and weakened Pakistan.

Earlier, these Islamic scholars had said in their joint Fatwa, the terrorists self-adopted interpretation of Islam was nothing but ignorance and digression from the actual teachings of the religion. Besides, Shia religious scholars also condemned terror attacks.

Although our rulers, leaders of political and religious parties have repeatedly condemned the terror attacks of the Taliban and other extremist groups, yet instead of verbal statements, they must show practical unity against these elements which seek to create anarchic situation in the country to accomplish their self-motivated power designs.

While indicating internal threats of terrorists, recently, Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani also said that the country was pitched against the faceless enemy. He explained that the present spectrum of threats could be defeated through collective national efforts in which the armed forces had a pivotal role to play.

Now, people from all segment of life and majority of politicians including general masses want that a handful of terrorist elements must not be allowed to dictate their agenda and to impose their self-created ideology in the country.

In these terms, it is war of entire nation against terrorism. But such a war needs better intelligence-gathering which is possible, if people provide information to the law-enforcing and secret agencies about the presence and covert activities of the Taliban and other militants. People must also point out foreign agents who have joined the ranks and files of these terrorists or are backing the latter.

Nevertheless, this is the right hour for the nation to practically cooperate with the security agencies to encounter terrorism.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.

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