DAVOS/ SWITZERLAND: Former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif has said the military courts were the need of the hour and helped Pakistan win the war against terrorism by dispensing swift justice.
“The military courts had convicted 170 individuals but there is still a very long list. The military courts were the need of the hour,” Raheel said on Tuesday while speaking at a session during the 1st day of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Intelligence sharing key to success against terrorism: Raheel Sharif
The session, titled ‘Terrorism in the Digital Age’, was also attended by UN Counter Terrorism Committee’s Executive Director Jean-Paul Laborde, King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies Chairman Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, and Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The participants acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts to curb terrorism.
Over 100 mothers of innocent children who had been martyred in a barbaric attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School demanded that the culprits be hanged publicly on the school premises, he said, adding that “unusual times require unusual arrangements”.
Raheel’s comments came at a time when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government is trying to find a solution after the constitutional term of the military courts expired on January 7.
The former army chief spoke at length about regional and international security issues affecting global peace and said, “Free speech and human rights are limitations and difficult to handle when one is dealing with hardcore terrorists.”
Responding to a question about how to deal with a terrorist who was willing to give his life, Raheel said there was always a mechanism to respond. “A whole-nation approach paid off and we successfully broke the network of terrorists,” he added.
He said there was a time when 150 terror incidents were taking place each month but within three years Pakistan Army had brought the number down to a single digit. “Soon there will be the first year free of any terrorist incident in Pakistan,” he said.
Raheel, however, warned that terrorists have the ability to act quickly due to the digital platform. “Terrorists, their sympathisers and financiers are effectively using this digital platform.”
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He advised the free world to join hands and react quickly against terrorist networks. “Terrorists are thriving on glorification and there is a need to tackle this issue,” he said.
He also put emphasis on intelligence sharing, which, he said, is the key to success in the war against terrorism. Turki Al Faisal agreed with Raheel that reluctance to share intelligence with a third party was imposing limitations.
“The nation states are failing to cope with the terrorism challenge but Pakistan as a nation did well,” Faisal said, adding that collateral damage was a big issue that the world needed to look at to counter the terrorists’ narrative.
Raheel said like terrorist networks, the states should also effectively use the counter narrative to meet the challenges posed by these tech savvy terrorists. “In order to have a peaceful world resolution of longstanding Kashmir and Palestine disputes is required,” he added.
To a question about role of Taliban sympathisers, Raheel said circumstances in Pakistan were different and challenging and there was a need to recognise these challenges. He said there were three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, a porous 2,400-km-long border and tribal linkages were creating problems.
“The environment is pretty different but we are successfully managing that,” he said. The former army chief said there were pockets in Afghanistan where lots of terrorists were hiding. “A lot depends upon stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan is in favour of this stability,” he said.
Raheel said there was a possibility that in future the west may have cyber terrorism problems, hoping that it should not happen. “I urge the international community to sit together and develop a counter narrative system,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2017.
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