National security has always grabbed an important priority in previous governments in the country as there has been and it is an established fact that political stability as well as economic development is achievable only through an era of peace. How much the successive governments have been successful on this front is a question that needs a detailed explanation. However, the continuous implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) across Pakistan and its results amply reveal that the incumbent government has come up with A comparatively serious approach to crush militancy and terrorism from across the country.

The 20-point NAP, approved with wider consensus of all state institutions particularly parliament, provincial governments and army soon after the Army Public School, Peshawar, militant attack of December 2014, binds all stakeholders with the core objective of rooting out militancy, terrorism and sectarianism through a massive crackdown across the country. In other words, the 20 points of NAP were the vacuums and dark areas that needed an effective and blanket operation to be plugged in once for all. Of course, it is a joint responsibility of the central as well as provincial governments in strong collaboration with all law enforcement agencies. Almost two years have passed to NAP implementation and the level of progress on this front is more than satisfactory. At this time when the NAP, which is enjoying complete support and commitment from both the civil government and military, the constant criticism and voices of concern from certain quarters would be unfair and an injustice to what has been achieved in terms of crushing militancy, terrorism and sectarianism. It is also true that though most of the NAP’s points are being implemented with wider endorsement, there are still some areas where there is a dire need to build consensus to ensure targets.

The progress made under the army operation Zarb-e-Azb is undoubtedly remarkable. In tribal areas, the visible existence of various militant groups particularly Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Al-Qaeda etc and their continued subversive activities were the potential factor that had forced the government to launch the army operation.

Clearing troubled tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, especially North Waziristan, by defeating Taliban and several other militant groups has not only contributed a lot in controlling militant activities across the country, but also earned wider acclaim from the outer world. However, the operation is still there with full vigour. Both the civil and military leadership have displayed professional commitment and reiterated to continue this operation as leadership of these terrorist organisations are still hiding in Afghanistan. They are being provided support by Afghan agencies and other hostile agencies of other countries including India. Afghan agencies are also supporting Afghan conflict not to win peace but to win war. International players blame Pakistan for supporting Tehrik-e-Taliban in Afghanistan and Haqqani Network. They continue threatening Pakistan with serious implications. Pakistan’s security forces are not supporting any act being done in Afghanistan. In fact, Pakistan is the state which is paying a high price of the war on terror. Loss of lives of thousands of security forces personnel in the war on terror, civilian casualties in terror activities, attacks on institutions, schools, Bacha Khan University, Gulshan-e-Ravi and Quetta hospital carnage have connections with the terrorist groups hiding in Afghanistan, which is still the safe haven for them.

The presence of over three million Afghan refugees residing in the country are still a major security problem; they have intermingled, got married here and are now having strong family links on both sides of the borders. There should be an effective registration of all Afghan refugees besides having strict watch on their activities.

The tail of issues does not end here. Various organisations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Fiqha, Karachi operation, agitating postures of Bramdagh Bugti while living abroad, Indian PM Narindra Modi’s patronizing these leaders against Pakistan, terrorism enablers, terror financing and reformation of religious seminaries are still unresolved issues and haunting the nation. Overcoming all these challenges is part of the NAP, which is being implemented with a steady progress. We need to understand that NAP is a combined responsibility of all stakeholders that involve federal government, provincial government, armed forces, security agencies and the public at large.

Besides, normalising the situation in the region, especially in the wake of Afghanistan crisis holds significance. It is beyond any doubt that Pakistan is exploiting all options to bring the Afghan government and Taliban to the negotiations table. It believes a peaceful Afghanistan would ultimately benefit not only Pakistan but also the whole region. However, at this stage, when India is increasing its presence in Afghanistan rapidly and the Afghan government’s allegations against Pakistan about harbouring terrorist groupsare constant, all stakeholders need to exploit reconciliation in Afghanistan as well as normalise the situation in the region without letting the Pak-Afghan relationship get further deteriorate. If possible, the Americans can be approached to eliminate Mullah Fazlullah, who is operating from Afghanistan.

On the internal front, sectarianism needs to be tackled properly as the leadership of some banned sectarian organisations like LeJ and ASWJ are continuing their activities under new names. However, much progress has been made to eliminate this curse as their funds transactions are being strictly monitored. Most of the suspicious bank accounts have already been frozen to control terror financing.

While on the other hand, some political circles in provinces have targeted the federal government on the slow implementation of NAP. They claim that the PML-N government has failed to achieve targets under NAP. Very true that the NAP implementation has been slow, but the critics must realise that the NAP is on track. Elimination of terror groups from tribal areas, Karachi peace, crackdown on sectarian organisations, chasing of terror financing and many others achievements have been made under the NAP. And this process is still on.

If facts and data are summarised, it transpires that the track of NAP implementation is very much clear. What is badly needed right now is to further ensure that a high degree of collaboration between all stakeholders remains intact. The political groups, which target the NAP must take the NAP into wider national perspective when the country is confronting with challenges especially on external front in terms of relationship with India and Afghanistan. The sooner we (all stakeholders) realise this fact, the better it would be for us and the country as well, as it is never too late.

 

The writer is a freelance contributor.