Can indecisive leadership of Pakistan defeat committed religious extremists?
By Agha Iqrar Haroon,
Political Observers for Central Asia and Eastern Europe
Religious extremism generally brings intolerance and bloodshed in society. Such situation usually results in massacre of a group of society that is not ready to accept extremist doctrine of powerful extremist group–Pakistan is facing the same situation since Afghan Jihad was started in 1979. There is only a one difference between post Afghan Jihad and Post war on terror—that difference is extremism and extremists now spread in urban areas of Pakistan after the war on terror while these factors were localised only in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
Worst ever attack on any airport of the world was at Karachi Airport on Sunday-Monday night and then extremists again tried to attack Karachi Airport on Tuesday afternoon. Around 2,500 security persons successfully managed to clear the airport from 12 extremists belonging to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 7 hours.
Important security installations have been under the attacks of terrorists since 2003 and terrorists successfully managed to enter even General Headquarters of Pakistan Army in past and stayed there for forty hours making people hostage inside GHQ in Rawalpindi. Biggest airfield of Pakistan Kamra Airbase officially known as Minhas Airbase was also occupied by TTP members and Mehran Naval airbase was also attacked successfully by TTP in past.
Karachi Airport attack has again testified that TTP has full potential to attack anywhere it wishes and it deems fit. Read history of attacks on Military installation by TTP to click this link. TTP leadership is clear what it is doing, what it believes and what it plans. There is no ambiguity in its resolve for what it wishes to place in Pakistan— Islamic Shariah and rule of Islamic code of life that is followed by Saudi Arabian kingdom. One can debate about the philosophy of TTP militants but nobody can deny strong commitment of militants about the war they have waged on Pakistan rather in the region. If someone sees commitment and resolve of Islamists in global perspective one can understand easily understand that after disbanding “infidel” Russians, the next goal of extremists is to disintegrate “infidel” China. Security experts in Pakistan fear similar attacks like of karachi Airport in China and Central Asia states in coming days because TTP has access to theses countries through franchise outlets of Jihad.
Such situation is getting on the nerves of superpowers including United States, China and Russia— and of course for emerging power India. India is not only a neighbour of Pakistan rather it has a bitter history of unpleasant relations with Pakistan.
On Tuesday, Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Y. Dedov expressed his concerns over the presence of international terrorists in Pakistan. Addressing a news conference at the Russian embassy in Islamabad he said:
“Presence of Uzeb, Tajik, ETIM militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas are posing a security threat to the entire region and collective efforts are needed to tackle this menace. He also feared that after the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, security would be a big challenge for the Afghan National Security Forces.
On the other side, the United States also expressed concerns over security position in Pakistan but reaffirmed its confidence in the safety of Pakistani nuclear assets following Sunday night’s terrorist attack on Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport.
“We believe the Pakistani government understands the importance of protecting all of its arsenal, including things related to its nuclear program,” Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department Marie Harf said at the daily briefing.
“We know that they care about this a great deal and have no reason at this point to think it’s anything but safe,” she added, when asked about the US views on safety of Pakistani nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, in the wake of terrorist assault on Karachi airport, the State Department has said the US stands steadfast in its commitment to the people of Pakistan in their efforts to counter terrorism and build a peaceful future.”
“We support Pakistan’s efforts to bring all those involved in planning and executing this attack to justice,” Spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.
China has already expressed its concerns with Pakistan over terrorist activities in Chinese Muslim province where terrorists are trying to install Islamic state on the lines of Saudi Arabian form of government. Chinese leadership expressed its concern with Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and also with Chief of Pakistan Army Gen Raheel Sharif who was recently in China.
The world is looking towards Pakistan that how it will deal with ever increasing power of TTP and other terrorist groups while government of Pakistan look indecisive to announce a full fledge war against terrorists in its tribal areas that harbour TTP leadership. Unfortunate to say government of Pakistan enjoys limited writ in these areas as these areas were given to foreign fighters including Uzbek, Chechens, Arabs and Afghan during Afghan Jihad in 1979. This was a deal between the then army leadership and Islamist fighters that Muslim brothers who came to fight against Russia would stay in these tribal areas without any control of government of Pakistan because these areas had been enjoying special administrative status since the inception of Pakistan but Malik system (local leadership who was a link between tribal people and state of Pakistan) was eroded by religious leadership who gathered in these remote restive land bordering Afghanistan.
Even after attack on Karachi Airport, top civil and military leadership of the country is firm to follow the path of peace talks and dialogue with TTP and other terrorist outfits. Insiders claim that government of Pakistan believes that if USA can negotiate with Taliban for the release of is only one soldier against top five Taliban commdanders then why Pakistan should not deal with TTP for peace for the whole country? This logic sounds good. The National Security Committee meeting was held in Islamabad on Tuesday that ended with a decision for continuing peace talks with terrorists, claim sources.
Prime Minister House where the meeting was held release a short statement about the meeting as:
“Matters relating to internal and regional security including Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata), Karachi and Balochistan were discussed,”
Official news agency of Pakistan Associated Press of Pakistan (AAP) released following two liner statement:
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday chaired a high level meeting to review law and order situation in the country.
Radio Pakistan also reports almost same version of AAP as follow:
A high level security meeting was held on Tuesday in Islamabad with Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in the chair.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Chief of the General Staff General Ashfaq Nadeem, Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi are also present. The meeting reviewed in detail the existing security situation in the country. The meeting was presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Chief of the General Staff General Ashfaq Nadeem, DG ISI Lt. General Zaheerul Islam and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi were also present in the meeting.
Sources claim that Interior Minister Ch Nisar was of the opinion that peace talks with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) should give another chance and maintained that peace talks were only good option to avoid disasters like of Karachi Airport attack by TTP.
“Pakistan Air Force will continue to strike terrorists in tribal areas. Karachi incident is eye opener for security agencies that commitment, resolve, strategy, resources and weaponry strength of TTP is still high to attack it on ground or engage with it on grounds and forces should keep air strike till such time TTP is weaker and let peace talks continue because there is a possibility that talks becomes successful with some of TTP groups”, added sources.
There is no doubt that Pakistan Army is continuing air strike in tribal areas and at least 25 suspected militants were killed early on Tuesday as F-16 jets bombed militant hideouts in the Tirah valley along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, military sources said.
Military jets targeted nine suspected insurgent hideouts in various parts of the Kokikhel area in Tirah valley of the Khyber tribal region, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed.
Pakistani fighter jets have been pounding targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) for the past couple of weeks.
The air strikes are the latest in a succession of such attacks carried out by the Pakistani military in the tribal belt this year.
The last were carried out in North Waziristan in late May, killing at least 75 people and causing some 58,000 people to flee from the district in fear of a fuller ground offensive that has been anticipated for years.
The Khyber district itself was targeted previously in April in aerial bombing that killed 37 terrorists.The district is believed to be home to several militant factions, most notably Lashkar-i-Islam, led by warlord Mangal Bagh, as well foreign fighters from Central Asia.
The Government of the Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is being criticised by the moderate civil society that accuses Mian Nawaz Sharif for keeping his eyes closed on constant genocide of Shia Muslims. Moderate journalists and writers believe that Mian Nawaz Sharif is indirectly supporting radical purist Islam in Pakistan on the instructions of Saudi Arabian government. This allegation of civil society and Shia leaders against Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif is not without logic and reason. Mian Nawaz Sharif had been living in Saudi Arabia for around eight years as a guest of Saudi Royal family out of a deal among former Chief of Pakistan Army Gen ® Musharraf, United States, Mian Nawaz Sharif and Saudi Royal family.
The government of Nawaz Sharif was thrown by Musharraf and Sharif was arrested on October 12, 1999. He was tried in a treason case and convicted for life imprisonment. Then a deal was allegedly signed among USA, Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif and Saudi Royal family and Nawaz Sharif was allowed to live along with his whole family and brothers in Saudi Arabia as Royal guests in Saror Palace of Royal family.
Now moderate elements in Pakistani society claim that Nawaz has a soft corner for Taliban and radical Islamists because these purist elements are allegedly supported by Saudi Arabian government and Taliban had known for their direct relations with Saudi Royal family.
This is also true that TTP allowed political party of Nawaz Sharif (PMLN) to run its election campaign before 2013 elections in Pakistan while three political parties—PPP–ANP and MQ were asked by TTP to stay at home and their public meetings were bombed and their leaders were killed by TTP.
These allegations against Nawaz Sharif are building up as he is reluctant of taking any strong action against TTP and is insisting upon peace talks with those who have taken the responsibility of killing 50,000 Pakistanis including more than 5,000 soldiers of Pakistan Army in terrorist attacks.
Political observers believe that time is short for Nawaz Sharif to decide the fate of his country because every passing day is pushing Pakistan more into radicalism and degeneration of society.