SCO: Effective platform to combat terrorism in Pakistan | By Gul-i-Ayesha Bhatti

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SCO: Effective platform to combat terrorism in Pakistan

TERRORISM has once more shaken Pakistan. The blacklisted TTP has attacked the federal capital after causing devastation in KP, bringing to light the achingly uncomfortable reality that unless the militant organization is stopped in its tracks, the current wave of terrorism may very well spread to other regions of the State.

When a suicide bomber detonated himself in Islamabad of the day, when police tried to stop his car for verification, a police officer lost his life.

There is no doubt that terrorism is spreading beyond the heart of the country. The wave of terrorism in the State is a cause for severe worry. It is stated that if the capital is not safe, no other place in the State is either.

Before a few days of this incident, the blatant assault on security officers took place outside the counter-terrorism department (CTD) facility in Bannu Cantonment.

The TTP inmates’ siege and hostage-taking at the centre, which had started on December 18, took place for more than 60 hours and cost five precious lives.

Alongside, a police station in Lakki Marwat near Bannu, North and South Waziristan were also raided by terrorists on December 18 and 19.

There, dozens of TTP militants beat up police officers and took all the weapons while issuing a warning to all local officials to quit their jobs as police officers as soon as possible.

TTP head Noor Wali Mehsud, who is apparently in the protection of Taliban government, told CNN just a day prior to the TTP attack on the CTD and the Bargi Police Station in Lakki Marwat that his organization is not using Afghanistan territory for strikes within Pakistan.

Ironically, Noor Mehsud followed this up by telling his “Mujahideen” who were occupying the CTD building (on December 20) not to give up.

During this time, Centcom Chief Gen Michael E.Kurilla was on a visit to Pakistan too, he offered “every possible help” against the TTP.

Almost two weeks before this, the US State Department identified four Al-Qaeda Subcontinent and TTP combatants as global terrorists.

The TTP is one of the stakeholders that have borrowed heavily from the Taliban’s ideology of Shariah to apply it in Pakistan.

It intends to seize control of the border region in order to establish its ideal Caliphate. It wants the Pakistani Army to vacate the border regions, which is unacceptable.

Another important stakeholder is the US which regrets leaving Afghanistan and wants a welcoming return.

This is feasible only if Pakistan is seen to have failed completely to end domestic terrorism and to find a viable solution to its problems with the Taliban government.

The third stakeholder is India along with other states which want to halt CPEC, as they see CPEC as a threat to their monopoly in this region.

Since the events of 9/11, Pakistan has been battling terrorism with the USA as its “Non-NATO Ally.

” While joining hands with the international community to combat terrorism, it is crucial to consider regional organizations like SCO as well.

In order to ensure comprehensive security, SCO has vowed to coordinate efforts to counter common security challenges and threats, increase communication and strengthen collaboration, combat all forms of terrorism as well as strengthen global information security and emergency response.

The SCO Convention on Countering Extremism is the organization’s joint reaction to the continually expanding menace of extremism.

Along with this is the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, the Convention of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization against Terrorism, and the 2016-2018 SCO Member States Programme on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism.

The SCO Convention on Countering Extremism aims to improve the legal environment in this area while also strengthening security and enhancing effective collaboration amongst member states.

Pakistani and Russian military personnel have participated in the Druzhba joint training exercises every year since 2016.

They involve personnel from both nations’ special operations teams. The goal of the exercises is to train the Special Forces in counterterrorism and to share experiences with other special forces.

Russia has already shown concern about the need to further increase the multifaceted bilateral cooperation, including counterterrorism with Pakistan.

In addition, the two nations agreed to enhance cooperation for military training. Although the Ukraine war has brought a halt to the joint military exercise this year, its inevitability should not be ignored.

Russia, China and Iran have a convergence of interests with Pakistan in terms of counter-terrorism and regional stability.

They are interested in a peaceful Afghanistan with minimal US engagement. They are well aware that counter-terrorism is connected to having a prosperous and progressive region. Therefore, they should join hands with Pakistan to combat terrorism in an effective way.

—The writer is PhD Scholar International Relations, based in Bahawalpur.