Pakistan, the front line state in the war against international terrorism surely has fought it as its own war as is quite evident from the cost that it had to pay in men and material and the results achieved so far, but regrettably the US and most of its allies in the West tend to look askance at her efforts and are not prepared to acknowledge her credentials as a sincere and determined partner to take the war to its logical end. The rhetoric of the US and its allies though flawed and inimical to the ground realities, sells easily in the world, thanks also to the propaganda by the western media. Consequently Pakistan faces the challenges of not only fighting terrorism but also the image conundrum.
It is probably in the backdrop of the permeating situation that the government of Pakistan is now giving more emphasis on sending out the right messages to the global community, highlight its achievements against the terrorists and presenting true face of the country with a view to erase the negative impression that persists due to unrelenting propaganda against her in the western media.
In this regard the National Counter-terrorism Authority (NACTA) has convened a 3-day International Conference on ‘Pakistan’s Endeavours and Achievements in Countering Terrorism’ from 3-5 April in Islamabad. The conference is being attended by a large number of counter terrorism experts from the foreign countries in addition to the members of the international Press Corps, intellectuals, academicians etc. During the deliberations so far Minister of Interior Ahsan Iqbal and National Security Advisor Lt. Gen ( retired) Nasir Janjua have dwelt at length on the regional security situation, sacrifices made by the country in the fight against terrorism; successes achieved in checking the burgeoning terrorism; efforts made to promote process of reconciliation in Afghanistan at bilateral and multilateral forums; relations with the US and the rationale for the position taken by Pakistan on the new US policy on Afghanistan; the ground realities of the region and the approach that was required to deal with the situation.
They forcefully reiterated Pakistan’s unruffled commitment to go to any extent to eliminate the scourge of terrorism, not under coercion by the US but for the sake of its own interests and peace and security in the region. The initiative by NACTA is really appreciable in the sense that it would immensely contribute to promoting understanding among international community about the role played by Pakistan in the war against terror as well as erasing the permeating negative image.
In the context of this event perhaps it would to pertinent to recount some of Pakistan’s achievements in the war against terrorism. Though Pakistan has remained engaged in continuous action against the terrorists since joining the war on terror but the major and decisive action against the terrorist outfits was launched in North Waziristan through operation Zarb-e-Azb on 15th June 2014. It is worth mentioning that before the launching of this operation the country had to endure 34 major incidents of terrorism including attacks on Kamra Airbase and Karachi airport, 311 mine blasts and 26 suicide attacks.
During the operation that continued for two years the armed forces destroyed 992 hideouts of terrorists and removed 7599 explosive mines in Khyber Agency, seized 35,310 rockets and 253 tons of explosive material which would have been enough for carrying out bomb blast for 21 years, having the capacity to target about 134,000 people. In view of the sensitivity of the operation and the fears that the terrorists might try to cross over to Afghanistan the military establishment of Pakistan took into confidence all the stakeholders including Afghan government and US commanders with the request to control and prevent the penetration of terrorist in border areas of Afghanistan. But the reality is that required cooperation never came forth and the leaders of the terrorist out fits including Haqqanis and TTP crossed over to Afghanistan. The latter have been orchestrating terrorist attacks within Pakistan using the Afghan soil.
After clearing the area through an indiscriminate action against all the terrorist outfits, the government and the security establishment focused on securing the 2600 kilometers of porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The fencing of the border unilaterally is already in progress. A number of watch-posts and forts are also being constructed besides setting up of 18 crossing points with gates to ensure that only people with legal documents could move across the border.
The civilian and military leadership also put in place a twenty-point National Action Plan with national consensus to deal with and eliminate the supporters of the terrorists within the country, to discourage hate-speech and to develop a counter narrative to the dogma of the terrorists besides taking extra-ordinary measures to bring the terrorists to justice through the establishment of military courts. Efforts to bring the seminaries in the mainstream of the education system and putting in place an effective monitoring system have met with great success. In regards to developing counter-narrative to the creed to the terrorists, the ministry of religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony recently launched a book-let “ Paigham-e-Pakistan’ which was a compilation of edicts against terrorism singed by 1829 scholars from nearly all mainstream sects.
Pakistan Army also launched operation Radul Fasad 0n 22 February 2017 in support of the local law enforcement agencies to disarm and eliminate the hidden terrorist sleeper cells across the country, consolidate the gains of operation Zarb-e-Azb and ensuring security of Pakistan’s borders. Under this initiative intelligence based operations are being conducted across the country with remarkable success. According to DG ISPR so far 26 major operations and 23.318 intelligence based operations have been carried out besides the recovery of 23,000 weapons leading to considerable improvement in law and order situation in Karachi and Balochistan. .
The foregoing achievements entailed a very heavy price for the country. According to the official sources 90,000 people including security personnel have been martyred and the country has sustained a financial loss of $120 billion. The data compiled by departments of state, defence, agriculture and USAID reveals that US has given Pakistan $ 33.4 billion during the last 15 years including $ 14.573 as cost of logistics and aerial support and $ 18.8 billion as civilian and security related aid. The foregoing facts belie the claims of President Trump that US was being ripped off by Islamabad. The aid provided by US to Pakistan is hardly 27% of the losses that Pakistan had to endure besides the mind boggling loss of human lives.
For Pakistan the war is still continuing and there is no lack of commitment on its part to eliminate terrorism and playing its role in bringing peace to Afghanistan. The US and its allies therefore must recognize the ground realities and appreciate Pakistan for whatever it has done and continues to do. They need to strengthen partnership with Pakistan to deal with this complex war and its repercussions instead of unjustifiably pressurizing it. This message and narrative needed to be propagated strongly at the international level and the conference convened by NACTA could set the ball rolling in that direction.
The writer is a freelance columnist.
The initiative by NACTA is really appreciable in the sense that it would immensely contribute to promoting understanding among international community about the role played by Pakistan in the war against terror as well as erasing the permeating negative image.