Abdul Ghani Chohan
The curse of terrorism and savagery that the world is coping with has been increasing since the ISIS has unveiled its so called jihad. It has been problematic for the international communities to hamper the activities posed by ISIS and its likewise mindsets around the globe. Effectively countering the terrorists has therefore now quintessentially become a military affair. The concerned governments do employ political and diplomatic tools and try engaging terrorist entities to amicably resolve the differences, but generally with very little success. On the other hand, to remain prepared for inter-state conflicts, of course, remains the military commanders’ top priority. But fighting terrorist entities is no less critical for the Armed forces that are being increasingly tasked to neutralize terrorists’ bases by targeting their safe havens, disrupting their supply lines and destructing their ammunition stores.
Military exercises to hone capability to fight terrorist outfits are, therefore, a regular feature in contemporary times. One such exercise was held at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) base at Korala in the Xining region of China. The exercise depicted effective neutralization of a terrorists’ base in the mountainous region employing modern equipment and gadgets. Among the witnesses was Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and chief commanders of China, Afghanistan and Tajikistan – representing the four countries who share a clear concern about the rise of Daesh in the region, which may attract the runaways from the erstwhile extremists movements and outfits given the space the Afghan Taliban may concede in the wake of expected rejuvenation of Quadrilateral Coordination Group. A delegation of Afghan Taliban was in China last month, with a message that they want to sit on the table with others within the framework of the Group. The highlight, and no less consequential, for the PLA military exercise was the meeting of minds of the four chief commanders.
They are said to have stitched up a counter-terrorism mechanism under the rubric of Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism (QCCM). It is basically a Chinese initiative, but actively contributed by General Raheel Sharif who in this connection has already visited Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Under this arrangement the four countries would cooperate in a number of areas, including evaluation of counter-terrorism situation, clue verification, intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism capacity building and personnel training. They also have joint anti-terror exercises. It would be military-to-military cooperation mechanism, and not against any other country or international body.
How will it work one should pin hope on its viability given the insularity the generalship generally enjoys. Unlike the political leaders, the military commanders are likely to be far less buffeted by the outside pressures. And, also, they are in a better position to comprehend the complexity of the threat the region is confronted with, especially when entities like East Turkistan Independence Movement (ETIM) enjoys patronage in some of the capitals in the West. India would not achieve much by activating its sleeper cells in Afghanistan with a view to sabotaging the QCCM.
Soon after the recent Quetta Massaccre , the combing operation has been initiated as before in 2015 after APS attacks the Zarb-e-Azb was launched. Our security personnels should peep in deep where do they have flaws in maintaining with in border security. Pakistan has, according to serveys, world’s top, fast and furious security agencies. Better use of these security measures in inevitable now. Undoubtably our foes will target the areas where people have some serious concerns about their rights. Quetta carnage was the chain of these concerns to sabotage the good relationship between Centre and Balochistan. Given the all pros and cons of operations that are launched to deter terror activities has given us nothing except the huge economic loss. Although billions of Rupees are allocated for these operations, yet our security institutes have failed to cope with terrorists. Joining international counter-terrorism forums is not bad but we must analize whether we are asking the terrorists to come and use our soil? Because before the Quetta bombings that left almost 80 people dead, no terror activity was claimed by ISIS in Pakistan. As Pakistan joined QCCM, soon after its one week Quetta was hit and responsibility was taken by ISIS. Why we are complexing our defence?
Its very easy to remain peaceful by adopting the way being impartial in the world. Terrorism is not a threat only to Pakistan, it’s a global issue that must be addressed by World Super power. What we have to do is to secure our own borders first and then move to international forums against terrorism. We are just focusing to defend others by joining their anti-terror forums at the cost of our own men and material interests. It is high time to learn from the previous mistakes of joining forums against terrorism that really has hampered Pakistan to develop and we are still seeking the way to come out of this shell of being victim of most terror activities. Both the Military and political leadership must set the policy that may maintain our sovereignty in true spirit.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.