Friday, January 24, 2014

Is Pakistan Ready For Long Sustained Anti-Terror Campaign?

The year 2014 in Pakistan began with 27 deadly terrorist attacks in the first 20 days, claiming nearly 200 lives, according to South Asia Terrorism Portal. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for most of the attacks. In response, Pakistan ordered air-strikes against TTP targets in Tirah Valley (Khyber Agency) and Mir Ali (North Waziristan) in FATA. This was the first time in several years that the Pakistan Air Force jets pounded TTP hide-outs.

Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal 

While I believe the air-strikes were needed to send a message to the terrorists, there was no word from Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif as to his strategy to deal with the TTP terror campaign that has so far claimed over 50,000 lives in the last few years. The strikes raise several questions: 

1.  Is Pakistan now ready to engage in a long and sustained campaign to eliminate terrorism as Sri Lanka did

2. If Pakistan is launching a war on TTP terrorists, why is it being done without first taking the people of Pakistan in confidence? 

3. When will the Prime Minister launch a communication offensive to build public support required for a war that could take many more years and lives? 

4. How will the Prime Minister deal with the pro-Taliban forces active in Pakistan's politics and media and other walks of life? 

5. If the Prime Minister has finally decided to end the menace of terrorism, is he prepared to stay the course when there are many more casualties on all sides? Is he preparing the nation to pay the price? 

6. What are the consequences of failure in this war? Will Pakistan fall to the Taliban? Will military directly intervene and take control of the government if the politicians fail to do what is necessary? What if both the politicians and the military fail? Will there be a massive multinational force intervention to keep Pakistan's nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of the Islamic militants? Will US and China join hands to prop up Pakistani state to protect themselves?  

For a discussion of the above and other current topics, please watch the following video:


Anonymous said...

If you are an apologist, supporter or sympathiser of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), you’re not on their target list and the state tries to appease you. If you are critical of TTP-led terror, you’re marked and the state leaves you to fend for yourself. In this situation what side should a rational mind pick?

Remember Swat? Within a year or so we saw a coercive consensus transformed into a conformist consensus under the brutal Fazlullah regime. Wouldn’t you fear those who demonstrate their intent and capacity to maul fellow citizens without any qualms? When those under threat don’t resist coercion in the interest of self-preservation, a conformist consensus is born. But this doesn’t happen until the state acts as a neutral bystander twiddling its thumbs watching one set of citizens force another into submission by threat or use of force.

We have slowly degenerated to a point where the state has lost its monopoly over violence and state officials their autonomy and anonymity. Now we have general and specific terror targets, both within the state and society. The state institutions — the armed forces, intelligence and law enforcement agencies — are general targets. And then there are individuals within institutions who are specific targets either due to their sensitive posts or personal convictions.

Any citizen who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time is a legitimate general target for terrorists. Then there are specific group and individual targets: Hazaras, Shias generally, and now journalists are group targets; religious leaders who speak against the terror-driven tyrannical model of faith or anchors critical of terrorists or perceived as liberal are on individual hit lists. Political parties, of liberal persuasion, and individual leaders, vocal about their opposition to terror, have been marked as group and individual targets respectively.

Aren’t TTP sympathisers forcing officials and citizens to follow their lead and strike a Faustian bargain? If the state cannot protect you, why not seek patronage of terrorists who can hurt you at will? This could work for political parties and citizens who aren’t on target lists.

But what about those who are? What can Hazaras do to appease terrorists? What can non-journalist media staff do to save their lives? Caught in the crosshairs by virtue of their work, what should policemen and soldiers do? What should ordinary citizens do who are at the wrong place at the wrong time?

The gamble of pro-talkers is simple: so long as there is a bigger target, the lesser target is safer. The state and society is thus confronted with prisoners’ dilemma: you can be anti-TTP and a target, or a sympathiser and relatively safe. We have created this dilemma because we fail to unite on basic principles: there can be no justification ever for one set of citizens to kill fellow citizens in pursuit of any political or ideological objective; and the state can never agree to share monopoly over violence with non-state actors.

So what would Imran Khan or Chaudhry Nisar negotiate with Fazlullah? How to abide by his vision of the Sharia and ways to implement it? Would they take his counsel on how to raise their kids or be ‘better’ Muslims? Would they endorse the revisionist mission of changing world geography, invading foreign territories and forcing their denizens to embrace the TTP’s brand of faith? If support for talks is meant to be more than a personal insurance policy and thus not an end in itself, shouldn’t the object of proposed talks and non-negotiable redlines be clearly stated?

If negotiations are meant to mainstream Fata and elicit the support of tribesmen for Pakistan, its Constitution and policies, let’s talk to leaders of all tribes and not those of a terror outfit.

Riaz Haq said...

#‎Pakistan‬ Army, ISI whispering in ‪#‎PTI‬ chief's ears? ‪#‎Imrankhan‬ now supports govt's anti-terror campaign against ‪#‎TTP‬

Hopewins said...

^^RH: "The year 2014 in Pakistan began with 27 deadly terrorist attacks in the first 20 days, claiming nearly 200 lives, according to South Asia Terrorism Portal. "

But did you NOTICE something astounding about the SATP statistics?

From 2008 through to 2011, the number of terrorists killed was more than the number of civilians.

After that, however, the civilian death toll has been higher than the number of terrorists killed?

See for yourself. 2012 & 2013 has been a BLOODY year for civilians, but not so bad for the terrorists.

Why is this? Is this because the Army stopped targeting them? Or is it because they are using new tactics? What is your analysis of this strange phenomenon?

Anonymous said...

What goes unsaid in your articles is how much Indians were right.

Didn't we in the 90s and after Mumbai attacks tell Pakistan how these "non-state actors" will eventually threaten the very state, they claim to "NOT" represent and get support from?

But, Pakistanis have not learned the lesson. Yesterday, there were news about how Pakistan is slowly activating all the anti-India Terrorists like Masood Azhar, who have links with Al Qaeda and Taliban.

We also told Pakistan how all this will affect the Pakistani Economy and we were again proved right.

We will again provide a prediction : Pakistan will face widespread isolation. 2015 will be the most bloodiest year in Pakistan.

Pakistan will go a long way towards becoming the next North Korea. And, India-Pakistan will be similar to South-North Koreas.

Not even the Chinese will not be able to help Pakistan, unless Pakistan dismantles all anti-India Terror groups and prosecutes Mumbai attackers and forgets about Kashmir.

The only way Pakistan can come up with resources to fight the insurgents is by removing troops from LoC/IB with India to Karachi, South Punjab, FATA and other places.

Cancer has metastasized and has affected all the organs.

Pakistan is haunted by 2 Is. India and Islam. India without lifting a finger and Islam by ensuring TTP will have endless recruits.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Hindu report on Pakistan's National Internal Security Policy (NISP announced by Ch Nisar Ali Khan:

Pakistan’s first ever National Internal Security Policy (NISP) apart from addressing critical issues related to threat perceptions ranging from street crimes to nuclear terrorism, envisages a deradicalisation programme which involves looping madrassas into mainstream education.

The policy tabled by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the National Assembly recently, is aimed at protecting the national interest of Pakistan and includes three key elements — a dialogue with all stakeholders, isolation of terrorists from their support systems and enhancing deterrence and capacity of the security apparatus. The NISP said dialogue offered a political means to end internal disputes but this is not the only option though it is the most preferred way to bring peace and reconciliation. Doors were open for negotiations with all anti-state and non-state groups within the limit of the Constitution and without compromising the primary interests of territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state.

The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), designated as the focal organisation for coordinating counter terrorism efforts in Pakistan, in consultation with other institutions supporting NISP, will develop and coordinate a National De-Radicalization Programme Design. The policy envisages the integration of mosques and madrassas in the national and provincial educational establishment by mapping and then mainstreaming and integrating the existing and new madrassas and private sector educational institutions.

The policy said a large number of terrorists, either are, or have been students of madrassas where they were brainwashed to take up arms against the state. Therefore, the madrassa and mosque remains an important point of focus for any government policy to stem the spread of extremism in Pakistan. The policy recognised a need to develop a national narrative based on tolerance, harmony and the right of the people to make religious, political and social choices. De-radicalisation programmes will be conducted in jails for prisoners and terror convicts.

The madrassa system cannot be excluded from the internal security parameters of the country, the policy stated. Controlling funding of the terrorists is a major challenge especially when the curriculum in these madrassas does not prepare the youth for the job market.

It is proposed to tighten control over foreign funding to non-governmental organisations and madrassas by involving banks, the Federal Board of Revenue and taxation departments to monitor the flow of money to suspected organisations.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's National Internal Security Policy (NISP) Strategy; three tiers of strategy (short-, medium- and long-term); fire-fighting (short-term; police reforms/CT efforts); overhaul of laws and the criminal justice system (short- to medium-term); narrative-building (short-, medium- and long-term). The the policy has been approved by the federal cabinet and some of its salient points have come into the public domain

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a view of Pakistani-American Faiysal AliKhan, Carnegie Fellow, on Taliban's youth:

Speaking softly, Faiysal AliKhan points to an underlying truth he sees in tribal areas of his native Pakistan. “There is an intergenerational aspect to this conflict which is often not talked about. We talk about socio-economic, gender issues, but we don’t talk about who hostile groups engage with – they engage with youth, not elders, not anyone else.”

“There’s no militant leader over 30 or 35 years old, and their foot soldiers are even younger,” adds AliKhan, founder of the Foundation for Integrated Development Action, a Pakistani organization that works predominantly with youth in the southern Frontier Province and surrounding tribal areas

For AliKhan, engaging young people is missing in the strategic approaches being advanced by civil society, government and political parties. “Even the community itself doesn’t take on board young peoples’ opinions,” he notes.

In Pakistan, especially the tribal areas, nearly 55 percent of the population is below 30-years of age. As Pakistan’s efforts to extend military and civilian authority in the tribal areas intensify, AliKhan’s organization is in a unique position to offer informed observations on youth and their tendency to be recruited by hostile groups, which he likens to attraction held by gangs.

“Take the seventh son of a tribal family who has no status in the family and doesn’t come from a prominent tribe – what is his future?” says AliKhan. “Who are his role models? Are there any positive role models? Not really.” Accordingly, with few opportunities, this youth is very likely to align himself with a hostile group, which provides many opportunities.

Number one, there is an economic opportunity; you have the ability to earn in your own backyard and need not seek work abroad or another city,” says AliKhan. “Number two, you get status, otherwise the seventh son has no status. And thirdly, another aspect in looking at these variables is looking at it like a gang. There’s an appeal for a young person to be part of a hostile group, you’re wearing your turban a certain way, you have guns – becoming Taliban gives this youth a voice, status.”

The son of a family with both business and military backgrounds, AliKhan was awarded a degree in Business Administration and Politics from the United Kingdom’s University of Kent in Canterbury and spent his early college years at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Having family experience with some of the largest joint ventures in Pakistan, AliKhan is accordingly mindful of creating an enabling business environment in Pakistan and the importance of service delivery. With the success of their commercial activities, the AliKhans invested in making a social impact.

It was his grandfather, who was born in Dera Ismail Khan in the Northwest Frontier Province, that helped spark his interest in his ancestral area. AliKhan wanted to bring his learning from the private sector back to his grandfather’s birthplace. When a local government ordinance was issued in the tribal areas to empower grassroots governance in 2004, AliKhan established FIDA, which means “devotion” in the local language. “We felt we could get involved in terms of helping to build better governance structures, said AliKhan, “We thought, how could we affect service delivery based on our business successes — how could we institutionalize what we had learned?”