ISLAMABAD - Former National Security Advisor Lt Gen (retd) Nasir Khan Janjua Saturday said that they are winning the war on terror but Pakistan still has to go a long way to end this menace.

Speaking at a session titled “Have We Won the War against Terrorism?” of the “Dialogue Pakistan 2020”, the former NSA said that the war on terror was a complicated issue but they had done extremely well at this front.

“We are doing well if this war has not concluded. We are winning this war and we will win it,” he said while addressing the participants of the one-day national level dialogue organized by Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based think tank.

He added that that there was a long way to go to end this menace because the Afghan conflict has yet to be concluded and has direct effects on Pakistan besides internal reasons the country was facing. He also said that though there were many blunders and follies of the past yet they were moving in the right direction.

“Taliban ideology is diminishing, receding and there is no more recruitment (of militants) and enemy is on the run and non-state actors are receding,” said Janjua the, the former commander of Pakistan Army’s Southern Command in once insurgency-hit Balochistan. “The soul of terrorism is now dying in Pakistan.”

He reminded that it was difficult to fight this war because “We were being asked that you are siding with infidel… militant groups had declared jihad legitimate for Pakistan.”

“When we started Swat operation, there was no government machinery there and people were being butchered.”

The former NSA said that the real attack of the enemy was on Balochistan and Karachi in this war despite the fact that the army was busy in operations in the far off erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Tariq Khosa, a former police officer, addressing the session said that they must identify that where they had done wrong in this war on terror. He said that the war on terror was an ill-conceived term and an ideological issue. “It is battle of hearts and minds,” he said adding that the state policy was flawed on elimination of terrorism and violence.

He deplored that Pakistan even today do not have its own national security policy.

Our focus is on countering terror not countering violent extremism, Khosa said adding that the Mullah mindset has not been addressed fully yet. “It is a long drawn battle and we have not achieved our objectives fully and we have a long way to go,” he concluded.

Zahid Hussain, a senior political analyst, said that Pakistan could reclaim that some of its areas have been cleared of militancy but it is still there.

He said that Pakistan’s problems were not only internal but also external as well at this front.

Tariq Parvez, former director general Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), said that they needed “civilianized security” to fight this war as military has done its part of work.

Dr. Jochen Hippler, Country Director Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and mediator of the session, concluded that there is a habit of finger pointing on one another for creating the mess of terrorism but the fact is that all including “US, Europe, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan shared responsibility of the mess.”

He said that violence is receding in Pakistan but they need to be careful in future not to lose this success.

In the inaugural session “Need for Dialogue in Today’s Pakistan”, I. A. Rehman, former chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said that in order to relinquish the clouds of despair that have blanketed the country, it is inevitable that dialogue is promoted in an environment that is open and not subject to any curbs.

Dr Khaled Ahmed, a senior journalist and columnist, said that democracy, in other words, advocates for the prevalence of free speech, and that the latter needs to be made possible both at the national and international levels.

During the first dialogue of the day titled “Dialogue about the Future of Parliament, Constitution and Democracy”, Barrister Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior and Chief of the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU), lamented how certain institutions and classes are targeted for the chaos prevalent in the country, for it is something that the entire society and all institutions are responsible.

Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, the former chief minister Baluchistan, and Afrasiab Khattak, former senator Awami National Party (ANP), said that a country where lawlessness prevails, it is necessary that we try our best to shift from being a security state to a welfare state for which brave and robust steps needs to be taken.

In the second session titled “State, Society and Religion”, Dr Qibla Ayaz, Dr Khalid Masud, Dr Dietrich Reetz and Dr Ammar Khan Nasir stressed that because when religious leaders are stripped of power they take to streets, it is significant that they be given the space that they as part of the country and representatives of Islam deserve.

In the fourth session titled “Is Our Environment Conducive for Creative Expression?”, Iftikhar Arif said that problems pertaining to creative expression in Pakistan are on the rise for which the prevalence of dialogue is an utterly important pre-requisite. Literature and art, the panellists vehemently argued, can help promote peace and tolerance.

In a session titled “Youth, Student Unions and Emerging Political Trends”, it was argued that before student unions, whose importance cannot be brushed under the rug, are revived, it is necessary that students are taught as to how do they ought to put forth their concerns in a manner that is not only respectful, but also worth taking into consideration.

In the session titled Political and Strategic Landscape of South Asia: Is the Region in a Permanent State of Change?, Aziz Ahmad Khan, former ambassador, stressed that Pakistan needs to improve its relation with India, and that although talks with the Taliban are not un-problematic, we need to engage them in healthy discussions and bring them on one table.

Amir Rana, Director PIPS, argued that the Indo-Pak conflict has consequences for, and bears upon the whole of South Asia. He further said that the meeting of the leaders of India and Pakistan during the upcoming SAARC summit will prove extremely inevitable for the pervasiveness of smooth and sound relations between the two countries.