The blood has not yet dried from Quetta, Awaran, Peshawar, Mohmand, Charsadda and Sindh’s beating heart of Sehwan, yet today eight more victims breathed their last in Lahore’s Defence area. Eight more mothers left on this earth without their children. In an unprecedented wave of unconscionable violence, Pakistan has been witness to at least 112 terrorist killings in just one gruesome week. Terror has now struck at all four provinces and major urban arteries of Pakistan in the span of just a few days. The timely announcement of Pakistan`s Operation Radd-ul-Faasad, under the able leadership of COAS Qamar Bajwa, across the country is a welcome first step. Now more than ever before we need to re-ignite the momentum witnessed during Zarb-e-Azb. After the Rangers were highly effective in sanitizing Sindh, especially Karachi, It is high time they cleaned up terrorist safe sanctuaries in Punjab`s underbelly.
To place flesh on the bones of NAP, Islamabad needs to re-launch a National Action Plan with teeth, a NAP version 2.0 which cannot contain a skimpy skeletal twenty points but must detail a much more comprehensive well-thought out long-term counter-terrorism strategy.
History calls upon Pakistan to decisively and indiscriminately consolidate and contain the spectre of 21st century multi-national terrorism which rapidly regroups itself in Pakistan, where unsavoury outfits like Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (especially their Al-Alami faction), the Balochistan Liberation Front, the Afghanistan and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban and ISIS Khorasan (South Asian chapter) are forming nefarious alliances, yielding revenues from narcotics and ill-meaning sponsors, sharing assets, carving new smuggling routes, brain-washing hundreds of thousands of fresh-blooded gullible recruits and people trafficking, all at India’s dime and behest.
Delhi’s agenda could not be clearer: to hijack a soon-to-be lucrative sea port like Gwadar, to destabilise the billions invested in CPEC, to sabotage Pakistan’s high profile international sporting events and acclaim such as cricket’s Pakistan Super League (PSL) and other projects which attract millions in sponsorship and foreign direct investment. Changing the venue of the PSL final away from Gaddafi Stadium, which has already seen its fair share of terror, to confuse and reduce India`s state sponsored terrorism might be well-advised.
Pakistan needs to deepen her alliances with China and Russia as India is blatantly using Afghanistan as a proxy to mount terror and civil unrest in Pakistan. Once and for all it is high time to form cross-partisan alliances in Pakistan, rise above the tempting tide of petty partisanship, cast aside all political differences, be it Panama or other political point scoring and implement stealth diplomacy with bridge-building initiatives directed towards Beijing, an ever influential Iran, Russia and Turkey to mount an alternative geo-strategic sphere of influence to counter India’s hegemony and her using and abusing Afghanistan as a proxy to conduct cowardly remote warfare vis-à-vis Pakistan, short shrifting Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) intelligence in the process.
In an increasingly polarised world, of shifting coalitions and transient allegiances, Pakistan must keep her friends close but her enemies even closer. And her enemies stretch and reside far beyond Asia and emerging markets.
From broad spectrum security, stealthier border management systems to better reinforcing our ever-porous border with Afghanistan, timely counter intelligence measures and country-wide deweaponisation and intelligence ‘asset’ cultivation, whilst neutralizing sectarianism and anti-state elements within our borders requires our collective undivided immediate attention.
Operation Radd-ul-Faasad is Pakistan’s historical calling. A moment to seize historic milestones. A moment to neutralise the enemies of our state. Both within and without. A failure to do so deeply imperils our national safety, security and all the tactical gains and strategic traction previously achieved in the generational struggle of counter-terrorism.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2017.
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