Malik M Ashraf
Terrorism in Pakistan unfortunately also has foreign dimensions to it. It is sponsored, abetted and supported by Afghanistan and India whose intelligence outfits have close nexus with each other in this regard. The most sordid aspect of this collusion between our neighbours is that it enjoys the tacit approval of the US which is pursuing its own strategic objectives in the region, diametrically opposed to strategic interest of Pakistan, notwithstanding the fact that Pakistan as her ally in the war against terrorism has suffered the most and continues to pay the price for this alliance.
Afghanistan still continues to host TTP operatives on its soil and it did not extend required cooperation to Pakistan when the former launched operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan with the result that many terrorist escaped to Afghanistan, from where they are continuing to plan and execute acts of terrorism within Pakistan. This is very much in the knowledge of the US authorities. If they were sincere in combating terrorism in Afghanistan and the region, as they try to pose, they could easily have played a role in removing the ambience of mistrust between Pakistan and Afghanistan and taken effective action against the TTP operatives based on the Afghan territory, to scuttle their ability to strike against Pakistan.
Similarly in view of the dossier presented to UN and US by Pakistan on Indian involvement in acts of terrorism in Pakistan, particularly Balochistan, as confirmed by the arrest of Kalbushan Yadav, the US could have asked India also to refrain from extending clandestine support to Baloch insurgents and sponsoring acts of terrorism in Pakistan. But the reality is that instead of playing an honest role in dealing with the phenomenon of terrorism in conformity with the ground realities it continues to put one sided pressure on Pakistan to do more. The statement of US secretary of state during his visit to India asking Pakistan to do more to stop acts of terrorism in the neighbouring countries, an ostensible reference to India, is indeed very regrettable.
Operation Zarb-i-Azb has been carried out without any distinction between bad and good Taliban. The COAS has assured Afghanistan that Pakistan would make sure that its soil is not used for attacks in Afghanistan and has ordered its military commanders to ensure it at any cost besides taking credible measures to manage the border to prevent cross-border acts of terrorism. That is however only possible when there is a meaningful and honest cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan in this regard, with US playing a facilitating role. But unfortunately that cooperation is not forthcoming. The US tilt towards India, its criminal silence on Indian involvement in acts of terrorism in Pakistan and showing indifference to what India is doing in Kashmir, is tantamount to encouraging India to keep pursuing its anti-Pakistan policies.
Peace in Afghanistan is not possible without involvement of Pakistan and similarly peace in Pakistan and elimination of the scourge of terrorism is not possible without peace in Afghanistan. The Indian involvement in Afghanistan is going to further complicate the issue as it would undermine Pakistan’s strategic interests, which is not acceptable to the latter at any cost. Such an eventuality is also not in the interest of peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan are neighbours. Nobody can change geographical realities. The US and its allies need to understand this basic fact and the historic bonds that exist between the people of the two countries.
The Afghan government also has to accept these realities and change its attitude towards Pakistan. Till such time this comes about, Pakistan needs to fight the scourge of terrorism within its own territory with an impregnable national unity, unswerving faith and commitment. There is no doubt that operation Zarb-e-Azb has been a tremendous success as it has broken the back of the terrorism and deprived them of their base from where they used to plan and execute acts of terrorism both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But the fact is that still a lot needs to be done.
The fight against terrorism is going to be a long drawn out undertaking due to the complexities involved. It needs perseverance, commitment and unyielding patience on the part of the government agencies involved in fighting the menace as well as the society. The acts of terrorism in Quetta and the recent incidents of terrorism in Peshawar and Mardan district court are clear pointers to this reality. What is important under the circumstances is that we as a nation keep our cool and do not panic. It is more so advisable for the security agencies and the government.
They must act in unison and refrain from shifting blame whenever an act of terrorism happens as we saw in case of Quetta attack. An attempt was made to create the impression that it happened due to non implementation of NAP by govt. If we accept that logic how could those who are preferring this view explain attacks on GHQ, Naval base in Karach and PAF base in Budaber. Fight against terrorism is a collective responsibility of the government and security establishment. They should be seen to fight it accordingly. That is right way to fight it.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.