Iftikhar Hussain Jazib
Religiously motivated terrorism of Al-Qaeda, its affiliates and franchises has been a big challenge internationally. United States of America and its European allies put all their military power and resources against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq 15 years ago but still they are struggling for its complete elimination. Based on religious extremism, Al-Qaeda is a hard and sensitive threat for Muslim states as its ideology is appealing for a segment of their population. For same reason, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen are in complete chaos while other Muslim states of Middle East and North Africa are also having difficulties in overcoming Al-Qaeda. Pakistan, despite being a weak state with limited resources and technology, has been successful against terrorists militarily and ideologically. The resilience of its people, their political awareness and professionalism of its army and security forces proved to be the best bulwark against terrorism.
Pakistan has been facing a transnational terrorist threat as Al-Qaeda, ISIL, TTP and other militant outfits have global links and networks. Hostile elements and international propaganda always projected Pakistan as a state which is crumbling due to the onslaught of terrorists. The takeover of its nuclear weapons by the religious extremists and failure of Pakistan state apparatus remain popular notions in the international media. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s media was also under this influence and it was often involved in threat exaggeration. The resolve of Pakistanis to defeat terrorists and commitment of their security forces to this cause is underestimated by the electronic and print media.
Terrorists have primarily waged a war against the citizens of Pakistan, their values, beliefs and their national assets. Therefore, general public is united and defiant against them. 200 million people of Pakistan are facing terrorists bravely for the last 15 years and all types of violent tactics employed by the militant organization could not shake their resolve to defeat them. Suicide bombings and attacks on schools, markets, transportation facilities, mosques, shrines and imambargahs have killed 55 thousand Pakistanis while the economic losses were also huge. But the deadly campaign of terror failed in inflicting irrevocable losses to the state of Pakistan. In fact, a few thousand militants occupying a part of FATA can neither capture whole Pakistan nor subjugate its 200 million resolute people.
The people of Pakistan have the longest experience of self government in the Muslim World and extremist forces can never enforced themselves upon them. Since the first elections of British India in 1920, general masses of subcontinent have strongly adhered to the principal of government by consent. In fact, so great is the attachment of Pakistanis to democratic values that the martial laws were essentially democratic and elections and local self government institutions were their prominent features. Therefore, politically aware and socially mobilized Pakistanis will never allow extremist takeover of their country. The 60 % turnout in general elections of 2013 has once again proved that terrorists can never intimidate Pakistanis and the victory of people of Pakistan is inevitable in the war against terrorism.
If we observe the trends and patterns of terrorism in the Muslim states, we find out that democratic societies were less susceptible to religious extremism and terrorism while Al-Qaeda’s ideology made devastating impact on authoritarian regimes. Besides Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia are democratic Muslim countries where people have rejected Al-Qaeda, its franchises and affiliates. The strength of these countries lays in their openness for diversified political and religious ideologies as their citizens have no grievances against the state. On the other hand, countries like Iraq and Libya were easily run over by the Al-Qaeda and ISIL because people have a sense of depravation due to the authoritarian mode of government. As it has been mentioned before that Pakistanis have the longest experience of democratic values in Muslim World therefore, public support for Al-Qaeda’s ideology is out of question. If we go by famous Maxim of Western political thought, ‘democracy always wins’, there should be no doubt that Pakistan will soon overcome terrorists.
Pakistan’s main strength lays in its peoples’ sentimental attachment with their national armed forces. Pakistanis are very proud of their troops who have sacrificed 6 thousand lives in the war against terrorism. Pakistan Army consists of 6 lack professional troops who are highly committed and motivated to root out terrorism from the country. It has been real game changer as it has successfully counter the militant insurgencies in Swat and FATA. While its roll in dismantling terrorist networks in urban centres is also highly commendable. In the latest phase of military operations, Pakistan Army is successfully conducting ‘Operation Zarb-E-Azb’ to eliminate the last pockets of militant’s resistance along the Pak-Afghan border.
Despite deadly terrorists’ attacks, Pakistan’s state apparatus is also fully functional. Every settled district has operational policing system. Punjab and Sindh Rangers, Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary and Levies are available to backup Army and Police. Intelligence Agencies of Pakistan are working round the clock to foil the nefarious designs of militants and their masters in hostile agencies.
Security personnel are facing the brunt of terrorist attacks as they have stood up as the saviors of the citizens, and their values, beliefs and assets. Therefore, general public and government are always willing to strengthen their hands against terrorists. Recently, government has announced a consensus National Action Program (NAP) to make sure that no terrorist can escape law of the land.
In the light of these facts and ground realities, we can conclude that Pakistanis will never tolerate extremist takeover of their country and its security institutions are fully capable and committed to defeat Al-Qaeda, TTP and other militants. While the state of Pakistan can sustain counter terrorism operations for more 15 years, the militant organizations are already in shambles.
The writer tweets @Radiant_J_007