Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor revealed on Monday that Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesman for the Jamaatul Ahrar faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has surrendered to security forces.
“As far as Ehsanullah Ehsan is concerned, he is in our custody. When there is more information regarding him to share, we will do so,” the head of military’s media wing said while responding to a question during a press briefing in Rawalpindi.
Earlier, detailing the performance of the Pakistan Armed Forces in the ongoing nationwide Radd-ul-Fasaad military operation, Ghafoor said 15 major operations were conducted across the country. “The army performed two big operations in Punjab, one in Sindh, four in Balochistan and eight in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.”
Claiming that the security forces recovered over 4,083 weapons, the ISPR chief said over 500 absconders have surrendered since the launch of the military offensive. He added that “4,535 intelligence-based operations have been conducted while 723 joint check-posts were established in coordination with the police”.
As a result of the operations, 4,510 suspects were detained, including 1,859 unregistered Afghan nationals, Maj-Gen Ghafoor said, adding at least 108 terrorists were killed during exchanges of fire.
The DG said Noreen Laghari, who went missing from Hyderabad earlier, was recovered during an operation in Lahore on April 14. A video was also run wherein the girl revealed details about her disappearance and her potential involvement in a planned suicide attack on Easter Sunday.
Regarding Laghari’s case, Ghafoor urged the nation and the media to be watchful of terrorist elements that seem to be potentially targeting the “mindset of the youth”. Delving into details of Radd-ul-Fasaad, the DG ISPR said it was a collective responsibility and was launched to consolidate previous military gains.
“There are two parts of the operation – kinetic and non-kinetic. Under the kinetic form, facilitators and abettors are to be dealt with, regardless of where they reside in the country,” he said. “This is to be undertaken through IBOs.”
He went on to say that the IBOs were also aimed at cutting the connectivity of terrorists with their cross-border facilitators, hinting at RAW and NDS, the spy agencies of India and Afghanistan. “As for the non-kinetic part of the operation, armed forces are to play a supportive role with respect to the National Action Plan,” Ghafoor said.
“In addition to plugging any loopholes in the system, four equally important reforms were introduced, including those for madrassas and educational institutions, the judicial system, the police, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).”
A close look at the spot on Afghanistan map where the US onApril 13, 2017 had dropped what Washington calls ‘the mother of all bombs’ a 22,000 pounder—the most powerful conventional weapon in the American arsenal—makes it clear that not only was the bomb aimed at destroying the tunnels dug in by the Islamic State (IS) militants in the Nagarhar province —located adjacent to Pakistan’s border linked to FATA where Afghan Taliban are alleged to have taken sanctuary but also to pulverize the hide-outs of Pakistani Taliban in the war torn country.
Perhaps realizing that the TTP’s game was finally over following the dropping of the devastatingly destructive weapon called GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast or MOAB the spokesman of one of its more deadly breakaway factions—Jamaatul Ahrar— Ehsanullah Ehsan had decided to surrender to the Pakistan Army. Since there is no reliable count of the dead due to bomb attack it would perhaps be not totally unsafe to assume that the damage in life and weapons sustained by both the IS fighters and the TTP terrorists hiding in these tunnels is widespread and irreparable.
This long awaited military intervention by the US in what was a running feud between Pakistan and Afghanistan with the former accusing the latter of providing sanctuary to its arch enemy TTP and the latter accusing the former of providing the same to its arch enemy Afghan Taliban seems to have created conditions conducive for the two neighbors to withdraw from their eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation and focus more on mopping up the facilitators of each other’s arch enemies inside areas in their respective control.
In Pakistan’s case it is this infrastructure thriving on its soil well within the country that needs to be eliminated forcibly if Pakistan wants to get rid of the menace of terrorism for good. But then it is next to impossible to even make a dent in this infrastructure without first eliminating the mind-set that has overtaken a critical mass of our population.
And this mind-set is not cultivated in the madrassas alone. Even our so-called public and private schools, colleges and universities have been constructing such a mind-set through not only the government approved curriculum that is taught in these institutions but even most of the members of the faculty of these institutions seem to have drunk from the same poisonous fountain.
The latest example of what this mind-set could do was on public display recently in Mardan at the Abdul Wali Khan University—named after a pacifist of national renown and son of another equally famous pacifist.
So, the Center and the provinces urgently need to review key principles of shaping the curriculum at all levels of education and also at the same time developing and establishing dedicated permanent research and educational centres. To question and to be able to think critically should be among the purposes of education.
The subjects of ‘citizenship’ and ‘civic education’ should be compulsorily added in primary-level institutions, especially public and private schools and madrassa; and the nurturing of a good citizen in the light of concepts drawn from Quaid-i-Azam’s August 11, 1947 speech. Higher educational institutions, such as colleges, universities, and higher-tier madrassas, should uphold the modern requirements of research and critique, which should be accorded central status in the education system.
Abhorrence to research and critique appears to be rooted in this obscurantism filled mind-set of our educated classes as our culturally influential elite continue to suffer from illiberal dogma, intolerance, bigotry and parochialism. This perhaps is the main reason why Pakistan is lacking in serious research activity.
Not only this. Since our cultural elite have developed an entirely puerile standard based on religious obscurantism against which they measure success in career and life, our research workers do not get the national recognition that they deserve.
Joel Mokyr, an eminent economic historian defines “culture” in his book (A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy) as “a set of beliefs, values, and preferences, capable of affecting behavior, that are socially (not genetically) transmitted and that are shared by some subset of society.”
Although Enlightenment was always a minority viewpoint, in early modern Europe, it was one held by culturally influential elite who became convincedthat general progress through increased knowledge was both possible and desirable and that their new knowledge should be spread in order to enlighten the people.
Mokyr also points out the fundamentally constructive role played by mass media in disseminating knowledge in early modern Europe contributing to the spread of knowledge in the Enlightenment sense. Finally, Mokyr emphasizes the importance of an institutional setting that guarantees equality and freedom.
The most important observation of Mokyr which needs to be studied in some depth in Pakistan concerns what he calls ‘culturally influential elite.’ And he mentions Thomas Becon and Isaac Newton as part of these culturally influential elite.
But then since Pakistan has been in a state of war now for nearly 40 years, most of our culturally influential elite tend to be military-related rather than art, literature, academia and other knowledge based intellectual subjects-related which has compounded further the problems of militancy that we are facing today.
However, even on the military subject as well we seem to be missing the trees because of the forest as we have so far shown no inclination to probe the new concept of national security called the Comprehensive National Power (CNP), notable for being an original Chinese political concept.
The CNP is calculated numerically by combining various quantitative indices to create a single number held to measure the power of a nation-state. These indices take into account both military factors (known as hard power) and economic and cultural factors (known as soft power).