How Security Agencies will Overcome Terrorism?
After the Kirani Road incident which killed more than 100 persons of the Hazara Shias in Quetta on February 17, this year, a controversial debate continues in our country, while, some politicians and media anchors have been blaming security forces and intelligence agencies about the Hazara carnage, deteriorating law and order situation of Balochistan province including overall phenomena of terrorism in the country.
However, there are number of hurdles in the way of security agencies to overcome terrorism not only in Balochistan, but also in other parts of the country. In this regard, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had directed a targeted operation against the militants in Balochistan, conducted by the Frontier Corps (FC) and supported by the police and intelligence agencies, which has continued in the province. Earlier, prime minister had imposed governor’s rule in the province after the suicide bombers killed 92 people of the Hazara community in Quetta on January 10. But the ruling party said on February 22 that the governor’s rule in Balochistan would be lifted before March 14 due to the forthcoming elections.
In this context, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa stated on February 21 that governor’s rule in Balochistan—as not to call armed forces in the province was a political decision. He added, “Any decision to restore a political government in Balochistan will be purely on political grounds.”
Nevertheless, this ambivalent approach of the government will create hurdle in the way of FC and other law-enforcing agencies to cope with the terrorists in the most trouble-hit province.
As regards the propaganda against the security agencies, Gen Bajwa made it clear that the armed forces were not in contact with militant outfits including Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, and Military is fighting a war against all forms of terrorism in the country. Commenting on the role of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), he pointed out that the agency was operating within its mandate and it had carried out 130 intelligence operations in Balochistan and prevented several terrorist incidents.
It is of particular attention that regarding Kirani Road terror attack, in its report, submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan on February 20, ISI stated that the agency had shared information with the civil administration about procurement of explosives by terrorists from Lahore to Quetta and possibility of fresh terror attacks on Hazara community. The court noted that ISI’s information was accurate, but the civil administration did not act on time. But in order to save their skin, the concerned high officials of the federal and provincial governments denied in the Supreme Court about any such information.
Meanwhile, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik disclosed on February 20 that Punjab housed hubs of terrorists with headquarters of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, asking the Punjab government to take action against them or the federal government would eliminate the terrorists’ sanctuaries in the province. He added that explosives were transported from Lahore to Quetta to carry out massacres of Hazaras. Notably, in the 2010, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer (The Late) revealed that Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has links with Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. Therefore, he is not taking effective measures against these banned outfits.
In case of Balochistan, Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies and intelligence organisations have thwarted many terror attempts of the militants, while several personnel of the security forces have sacrificed their lives for improving situation in the province. But, while speaking in the tone of foreign enemies, some political entities have been holding FC, Military Intelligence (MI) and ISI for deteriorating law and order situation of Balochistan. Otherwise, it is responsibility of the federal and provincial governments unless army is called to take full control of the province. Some media anchors have also been criticising security agencies without any logic. Regrettably, those political parties which were misguiding the general masses about Pak Army and ISI about unrest in Balochistan to increase their vote bank have been urging the government to handover the control of the province, especially to Pak Army.
Complex phenomenon of terrorism cannot be left to the security forces and law-enforcing agencies alone, as it is everyone’s war.
Despite the fact that Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies and intelligence outfits have castigated many terror attempts of the militants through pre-arrests, discovery of weapons and huge explosive material, suicide jackets etc., but terrorists keeps on targeting the installations of security forces, intelligence agencies and police including government buildings through bomb blasts, suicide attacks and are conducting targeting killings in various cities of the country. They are also murdering political and religious leaders in order to fuel ethnic and sectarian violence.
It is a challenge for the whole nation that various terrorist organisations like Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundollah (God’s soldiers), Lashkar-i-Janghvi, Lashkar-e-Islam, Sipah-i-Sahaba and some other militant outfits, especially the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) feel pride in murdering the innocent people and killing the personnel of the security agencies, while claiming responsibility for their heinous terror assaults.
No doubt, Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies and intelligence organisations which are well-prepared in coping with terrorism are engaged in identifying and locating the terrorist networks and their support bases including informers and accomplices. But these were discouraged as their actions were being challenged through courts of law regarding the validity and legality of their decisions. The insurgents’ lawyers availed the opportunity by indicating procedural penal flaws. Thus many terrorists were freed by the courts due to lack of solid evidence in legal terms, though reality of their subversive activities existed. Due to this practice, efficiency of law-enforcing agencies drops to zero level, giving a greater setback to war against terrorism and making the concerned official insecure in face of judicial grilling. Terrorist presently under custody, if released by the court due to judicial discourse will certainly join their main terrorist networks, thereby strengthening terrorist groups. Consequently, this ‘new style war’ will turn in favor of terrorists instead of law-enforcing agencies and intelligence agencies which may suffer more in the hands of terrorists.
Notably, President Asif Ali Zardari on February 20 signed the bill of “Fair Trial Act 2012”, passed unanimously by the National Assembly on December 20, last year. The act provides legal cover to the concerned law-enforcing agencies and intelligence outfits to tape the phone calls and watch the e-mails. It envisages that electronic material would now be permissible in the court of law as evidence. It also includes curbing terrorism—financing and penalising those involved in terror activities by confiscating their property and imposing fine and imprisonment.
Nonetheless, while coping with the militants, Pakistan’s security forces and intelligence agencies require maintaining high degree of morale and confidence. In this context, our media should appreciate their sacrifices and services in the fight against terrorism.
Another hindrance in war against terrorism is that by misconception of Islam, terrorist groups manipulate the feelings of innocent Muslims who are naturally prone to favor the cause of Muslims. Hence, they become targets of terrorists’ propaganda who project their unfair designs in the name of Jihad, and undertake criminal activities of terrorism, inflicting serious loss of innocent lives and damaging property. The militant outfits also recruit very young boys, and after their brainwashing through indoctrination, they train them for suicide bombings. The planners misguide these Muslims by convincing that they will have a noble place in the Heavens in exchange of suicide attacks.
In this respect, our Islamic scholars (Ulemas) must clarify that Islam considers killing one innocent person equal to murdering the entire humanity, while jihad is a sacred obligation, but its real spirit needs to be understood clearly, as targeting innocent women and children through subversive acts is not jihad. These Taliban and their banned affiliated groups are defaming Islam which is the religion of peace, democracy, moderation and human rights.
Now, people from all segment of life and majority of politicians including general masses want that a handful of terrorist elements must not be allowed to dictate their agenda and to impose their self-created ideology in the country.
We can conclude that it is the ‘different war’ of entire nation, which demands full cooperation of the religious scholars, politicians, media and general masses with the security agencies in order to overcome terrorism. People must also point out foreign agents who have joined the ranks and files of these terrorists or are backing the latter.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations