ISLAMABAD -  While the Islamic State, commonly known as Daesh, continues struggling to consolidate its footprints in Afghanistan, Pakistan has forcefully denied the terror outfit any space to make inroads on its soil.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s warning to educated youth the other day to be vigilant of ISIS threat on social media is part of the effort to forewarn Pakistani youth about the danger.

The warning came after the grisly tale of a second year student of Liaqat University of Medical Sciences (LUMS) Jamshoro, Noreen Jabbar Leghari, who went missing on February 10 this year and was later recovered from Lahore. Noreen, a second year student of MBBS, was arrested after her husband was killed in an encounter with the security forces in Lahore.

Later, in a video confession played during a press conference, she disclosed she was to be used by the Islamic State as a suicide bomber on an attack to be conducted on a church on Easter in Lahore.

This was the first incident of its kind which led to focused efforts to check the Islamic State threat targeting the Pakistani educated youth, and since then a serious campaign has been launched to forewarn parents to keep a check on their children.

Likewise, vice chancellors and principals of universities and colleges were alerted to check any such development taking place in their respective institutions.

Consequently, the threat of Islamic State’s making inroads into Pakistan has been pre-empted and contained. In February 2017, Pakistan Army launched “Operation Raddul-Fasaad” across the country. The aim of this operation is threefold: eliminating the residual threat of terrorism, consolidating the gains made thus by military operations under Zarb-e-Azb; and de-weaponisation of the society.

Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, civil armed forces (CAF) and other security and law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) will continue to actively participate in, and intimately support, the efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country.

The new operation came as a response to a series of at least six back-to-back attacks in Pakistan within a week in mid-February, killing more than 100 people in different parts of Pakistan. One of the deadliest attacks in this string of terror attacks took place on February 16 when a suicide bomber blew himself up amongst the devotees in the Shrine of Sufi saint Lala Shahbaz Qalandar in the town of Sehwan in Sindh. At least 88 people were martyred and 343 injured when a suicide bomber attacked the crowded Sufi shrine. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by Daesh. It was a deadly week for Pakistan and the security forces launched a major crackdown following the attack on the Sufi shrine.

The gains made since February under the operation are wonderful. The Frontier Constabulary foiled a major terrorist activity in Balochistan and recovered 2,000kg of explosives from a vehicle through a special IBO in Spin Tezha, Killa Abdullah. In addition, Pakistan Rangers in Punjab, along with the provincial Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), police and intelligence agencies, carried out joint search operations in surrounding areas of Mandi Bahauddin and Nilore, Islamabad. During the operation, seven suspects were apprehended and illegal weapons as well as ammunition were recovered.

Since the launch of operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, Pakistan Army has conducted around 9,000 intelligence-based operations across the country, which led the army to launch 46 major operations against terrorists across the country. The operation is carried out in coordination with police and other law-enforcement agencies uniformly all across the country and the decreasing trend in the civilian casualties is an indicator of the fact that the operation is going on successfully in all parts of the country.

Operation Khyber 4 under Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad is another success story of the Pakistan Army in the Rajgal valley along the Pak-Afghan border. During this operation, the capture of a strategic mountain top by the military has now denied the militants a position from which they can target Pakistani security forces easily. In addition, the vigilance by Pakistani soldiers along the Pak-Afghan border through check posts and fencing is now becoming a reality.

The consolidation of the gains made during previous operations in the past, tightening the security of our borders and the eliminations of residual terrorist threats are the targets achieved by Operation Radd-ul-Fassad. One of the major strength of this operation is that, besides military, the local law-enforcement agencies are now equally taking part in the process of hunting down terrorists.

Renowned defence analyst Lt-Gen (r) Amjad Shoaib, while commenting on the warning given by the army chief to the educated youth of the country is a pre-emptive effort. “The statement of the army chief is a pre-emption to deny space to the Islamic State to penetrate into Pakistan,” leading defence analyst Lt-Gen (r) Amjad Shoaib commented while speaking to The Nation on Friday.

He was of the view that some of the Islamic State fighters who had gone to Syria and Iraq have returned to Afghanistan and are being propped up by hostile intelligence agencies with the design to destabilise Pakistan.

“The message of the chief of army staff to our youth and parents in my view is to comprehend the danger being posed by the Islamic State in that sense,” Shoaib remarked. He sounded optimistic that Pakistan’s security forces are capable enough to deny the Islamic State to cause any damage to the country.