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United against terrorism

Terrorism

Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal |

The terrorist organisations have been targeting Pakistan since the commencement of war on terrorism. Devastating suicidal attacks and bombings bloodied Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi, as well as smaller cities and towns throughout Pakistan. The critical review of the terrorists’ activities in the country reveals that a corrosive mixture of external and domestic causes lie behind ruinous terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

Therefore, Islamabad always endorses and sincerely supports both regional and global initiatives that are meant to combat the menace of terrorism. Today, the radicalized militancy is a gigantic problem for all Muslim nations. The ideological motivation through biased interpretation of Islamic norms; ability to freely move across countries; financial backing through illicit trade; adept in use of communication technology; and above all the protracted global war on terrorism are important sustaining and enduring constituent of terrorism in Muslim countries.

The IMCTC seems imperative for combating the menace of transnational terrorist organizations. It provides an opportunity to quash radicalised militancy from the Muslim societies and states.

The extremists’ strategy is not limited by theological moral scruples—inhibition in killing of the innocent, unarmed, civilians and non-combatants. The radicalized militant groups have no compunction against killing of the innocent, women, children and the unarmed civilians.

The 41 Muslim nations constituted an intergovernmental Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) also referred as Islamic Military Alliance on December 15, 2015. The first meeting of the defense ministers and other senior officials from the IMCTC was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arab on November 26, 2017. The theme of the meeting was “Allied Against Terrorism.” The defense ministers finalized alliance’s terms of reference (TORs).

Read more: Are military operations the only way to counter terrorism in Pakistan?

The significant TOR is that each state’s participation “will be defined in accordance with each country’s capabilities and resources, as well as in accordance with each country’s desire to participate in a given military operation.” It means that one state decision or wishes are not binding for the alliance members. The members share their resources only to target the terrorist organizations. The declaratory objective of the alliance is to wipe out terrorists from the face of the earth.

Currently, it is under siege by Saudi Arab led coalition. In the recent meeting of IMCTC Doha was not invited. The absence of the Qatari delegation in the meeting confirms the critics’ apprehensions about the alliance.

In this context, it will address ideology, communications, counter terrorist financing and military. On November 26, 2017, while speaking at the IMCTC, Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman rightly pointed out that: “Beyond the killing of innocent people and the spread of hatred, terrorism and extremism distort the image of our religion.” Indeed, the radicalized militancy is demoralizing for the Muslims.

The critics of IMCTC are expressing their reservations about the objective and execution of the coalition. Riyadh’s differences with a few states are causing confusion about the real objective of the coalition. For instance, Shiite-dominated Iran, as well as Syria and Iraq, whose leaders have close ties to Tehran, are not members of IMCTC. Tehran had already expressed its reservation on the formation of coalition. It claimed the coalition “may impact the unity of Islamic countries.” Qatar is party to the alliance.

Currently, it is under siege by Saudi Arab led coalition. In the recent meeting of IMCTC Doha was not invited. The absence of the Qatari delegation in the meeting confirms the critics’ apprehensions about the alliance. Many security analysts believe that the alliance is not only steward by Riyadh but also assist the latter to pursue its regional and international objectives. Admittedly, the struggle for supremacy in the Middle East is alarming.

Read more: Pakistanis must learn the limits of military led counter-terrorism

Islamabad always endorses and sincerely supports both regional and global initiatives that are meant to combat the menace of terrorism. Today, the radicalized militancy is a gigantic problem for all Muslim nations.

Nonetheless, General Raheel Sharif (Retd), the commander-in-chief of IMCTC categorically pointed out that the coalition was not against any religion or state and it aims to “mobilize and coordinate the use of resources, facilitate the exchange of information and help member countries build their own counter-terrorism capacity.” Importantly, according to coalition TORs, it would be up to the member states to decide the extent of their participation in the coalition.

Notwithstanding, the presence of Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurrum Dastagir in the recent IMCTC meeting, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with Foreign Minister, Army Chief and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence rushed to Riyadh on November 27, 2017, to participate in the formal launch of the Saudi-led military coalition against terrorism. The participation of Premier Abbasi does not confirm that Pakistan will be party in Middle Eastern current crisis. Government official position is that it will not allow its troops to participate in any military action outside the country.

To conclude the IMCTC seems imperative for combating the menace of transnational terrorist organizations. It provides an opportunity to quash radicalised militancy from the Muslim societies and states. Islamabad needs to participate actively in IMCTC for ending terrorism, but it ought to be refrained from any initiative or action that aimed at any other Islamic country.

Read more: Pakistani Officer Embraces Martyrdom in the Line of Duty

Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He is also an advisor on Non-Proliferation to SASSI, London and a course coordinator at Foreign Services Academy for the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Email: jaspal_99@hotmail.com. This piece was first published in Pakistan Observer. It has been reprinted with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.


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