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Dr Zafar Jaspal|

The bloody terror attacks in Awaran, Quetta, Mohmand, Lahore, Peshawar and Sehwan during the last week and now again Lahore have traumatized the entire nation. This resurgence of terrorist activities is alarming and questions arise over the revival of terrorist networks with the country. Are we losing the battle against radicalized extremists? Even if we are not losing the battle against the terrorism, we are not succeeding in ending the terrorist network. The recent terrorist attacks and subsequent developments manifestly show that the Government of Pakistan needs to reevaluate its National Action Plan’s execution strategy and bilateral relations with Afghanistan.

Read more: Is NAP a challenge or an opportunity?

Wrong approach? Military-centric and people-centric approach

The Government has adopted both military-centric approach and people-centric approach to destroying terrorist physical and popular centuries. However, the country’s ruling elite has failed to end the political/diplomatic support to the terrorist groups. Hence, despite the successful Zarb-e-Azb military operation, terrorist groups were successful in bleeding innocent non-combatant Pakistanis.

The continuity of mistrust between Afghanistan and Pakistan is in the advantage of the terrorist syndicate, which freely use former territory for perpetrating terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

They are having sanctuaries across the border in Afghanistan. According to the intelligence reports, terrorist groups have been receiving financial and intelligence support from both Afghan NDS and Indian RAW. Combating the menace of terrorism and quashing terrorist networks necessitate both vigilance, cooperation of the people and convergence of the opinion among the political parties. Secondly, the holistic approach ought to be adopted in the entire country.

Government’s ineffective anti-terrorism efforts

The government’s reluctance to allow Rangers to conduct an operation against the militant groups in Punjab germinates misperception among the people of Pakistan. The political parties, equally, seem frustrated from the Government’s anti-terrorism efforts.

Read more: Pakistanis & Indo-Afghan Terrorism: Pakistanis don’t know how to respond?

On February 18, 2017, Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Khurshid Shah expressed his reservations on the implementation of the National Action Plan.
Although the terrorist facilitators belong to our own society, yet they are not effective without the external political and economic support.

On February 13, 2017, Pakistan’s permanent representative at United Nations, New York, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi while speaking at UNSC asserted:

“What Pakistan continues to face today are externally supported terrorists.”

The ISPR spokesman categorically stated on February 17, 2017:

“Recent terrorist acts are being executed on directions from hostile powers and from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. We shall defend and respond.”

Islamabad shared the intelligence information with Kabul and requested it end the prescribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and its subsidiary Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, sanctuaries located inside Afghanistan. The Afghan diplomats were summoned in General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and handed over a list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists by Pakistan Army. The response of Kabul is not encouraging.

The Afghan Government seems disinclined to support Pakistan. Instead of handing over 76 wanted terrorists, the Afghan government issued its own demand list.

“The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan once again demands Pakistan to take practical measures and initiate effective counter-terrorism efforts against all those terrorist groups which operate in Pakistan and pose a threat to security and stability of Afghanistan.”

Kabul’s hostile attitude obliged Islamabad to take punitive actions for sake of security. It announced the closing of border crossings and also ordered to show zero tolerance to illegal crossing. Frontier Corps spokesman announced: “Shooting order has been issued to the security forces for those… found trying to enter… Pakistan illegally from any area of the border.”

Pakistan Army targeted the TTP and JuA sanctuaries

Pakistan Army targeted the TTP and JuA sanctuaries located near Afghanistan-Pakistan border on the side of Afghanistan. Admittedly, without these inflexible border management arrangements, checking the infiltration of TTP and JuA radicalized terrorists is difficult.

Read more: Pakistan Army begins: ‘Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad’ all across Pakistan

It is equally, however, counterproductive. Is the knee-jerk reaction is haphazard and ill-thought-out?

It would not only further deteriorate Pakistan bilateral relations with Afghanistan but also enrage the people living on both sides of Pak-Afghan border. Thus, the repercussions of border management cannot be taken lightly.

The continuity of mistrust between Afghanistan and Pakistan is in the advantage of the terrorist syndicate, which freely use former territory for perpetrating terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

According to the intelligence reports, terrorist groups have been receiving financial and intelligence support from both Afghan NDS and Indian RAW.

Realistically speaking, Kabul has lesser control in the peripheral areas of Afghanistan. Therefore, it may not be able to arrest 76 most wanted terrorists hiding in Afghanistan. Hence, instead of simply accusing we chalk out a practical strategy to engage Afghan ruling elite and convince it to restraint its National Intelligence Directorate from cooperating with Indian RAW and supporting TTP and JuA.

India’s involvement and refugee crisis

It is an open secret that India has been using Afghanistan to support terrorist activities in Pakistan. Former US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel pointed out:” India has always used Afghanistan for its own war and is creating problems against Pakistan from Afghanistan.” Pakistan needs to terminate the nexus between Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies against it.

Read more: How terrorist sanctuaries in Afghanistan are posing threat to Pakistan’s viability?

Simultaneously, one needs to be rational while dealing with Afghan refugees. According to reports the Pakistan’ successfully repatriated 650,000 Afghan refugees. In reality, they are also victim of ‘Great Game in Afghanistan’. They have been living in Pakistan since four decades because of the anarchical situation in their country.

The country’s ruling elite has failed to end the political/diplomatic support to the terrorist groups.

The declaring or treating Afghan refugees ‘criminals’ and ‘terrorists’ is neither correct nor wise policy. It does not reflect the correct facts and thereby perilous for Pakistan’s national interest. Precisely, targeting Afghan refuges in Pakistan only divert attention form the actual cause of problem. Therefore, the law enforcement agencies ought to careful in discriminating between criminals and innocents.

In addition, transformation in the global politics is also obliging Islamabad to chalkout a vigilant and realistic domestic and foreign policies for the pursuit of its national interest. Indeed, such a situation necessitates harmonious thinking within the society and state and also obliges the ruling elite to take firm and decisive actions against terrorists and their facilitators.


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.

Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is Director & Associate Professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan, where he teaches various aspects of Strategic Studies; International Security; Nuclear/Missile Proliferation; Terrorism including CBNR Terrorism and Countermeasures; Arms Control/Disarmament; Domestic and Foreign Policies of the country. He is an advisor on Non-Proliferation to SASSI, Islamabad/London and a Course Coordinator at Foreign Services Academy Ministry of Foreign Affairs Islamabad. Prior to joining the University, he had been a Research Fellow at ISSI, IPRI, Islamabad, Pakistan. Dr. Zafar, as a Guest Speaker/Visiting Lecturer, had delivered and still continues to deliver lectures at NATO School, Oberammergau, Germany; Center of Excellence: Defence against Terrorism, Ankara, Turkey; National Security & War Courses of Pakistan’s National Defence University; Intelligence Bureau Academy, Command and Staff College Quetta; Air War College, Karachi, and Foreign Service Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan. He holds Ph.D. and M. Phil in International Relations and M.A. in Political Science. He did advance Post Graduate Certificate courses in Peace and Conflict Studies, from European Peace University Stadtschlaining, Austria; Peace Research, International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis from Oslo University, Norway. He also did CMC Training Course/ Cooperative Monitoring from Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States.

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