Why has an announcement of Azm-e-Istehkam created panic among the political cadre of KPK?

DND Thought CenterWhy has an announcement of Azm-e-Istehkam created panic among the political cadre...

Islamabad, Pakistan: The Term of Reference (ToR) and targets of the Azm-e-Istehkam initiative are yet to be announced, and only the objective of this operation has been shared with the nation which is to secure a stable Pakistan, certain political parties have started crying over the forthcoming initiative to cleanse Pakistan from radicalism, violence, and extremism. Unfortunately, a cadre of journalists mostly hailing from KPK have already joined the band of ‘Na Manzoor’ (We reject) even before knowing what Azm-e-Istehkam would be.

A background check of such politicians, journalists, and political analysts indicates their economic interests are directly or indirectly linked with legal and illegal business ties with Pak-Afghan bordering areas. They understand that the forthcoming Azm-e-Istehkam would clog loopholes within the system that offers edible smuggling, arms deals, weapon trade, and availability of criminals for abductions for ransom, paid killing, land grabbing, and several other unlawful and prohibited activities.

   

The Prime Minister’s Office through a statement released on Tuesday explained that Azm-e-Istehkam, has been announced to achieve sustainable peace and stability in the country and stated that the operation is incorrectly comparing Azm-e-Istehkam with previous military operations such as Zarb-e-Azb and Rah-e-Nijat, which targeted no-go areas and regions challenging the state’s writ and forthcoming Azm-e-Istehkam would not include large-scale displacement of local populations. “There is no consideration for any large-scale military operation that would necessitate population displacement,” the PM Office statement added.

Azm-e-Istehkam would be a multifaceted national vision for sustainable peace and stability, involving collaboration between various security agencies and the entire state apparatus, aiming to reinvigorate the ongoing implementation of the revised National Action Plan with a determined goal to eliminate the remnants of terrorists, their criminal facilitators, and violent extremism in the country.

This PM Office statement came after resistance showed the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, JUI-F, Jamaat-e-Islami, ANP, PkMAP, and others. KPK is ruled by PTI where terrorism has reemerged in the last two years after PTI invited terrorists to resettle in Pakistan with their families who came from Afghanistan along with the best of the best US-made weapons and continuously targeting military men in KPK as well as in Balochistan—both the provinces bordering Afghanistan.  According to locals, TTP terrorists have started controlling important roads in KPK in the evening by setting up pickets while the KPK government is keeping its eyes closed over this situation.

The Term of Reference (ToR) and targets of Azm-e-Istehkam are yet to be announced, and only the objectives and goals of this operation have been shared with the nation that is to secure a stable Pakistan, certain political parties have started crying over the forthcoming initiative to cleanse Pakistan from radicalism, violence and extremism. Unfortunately, a cadre of journalists mostly hailing from KPK have already joined the band of ‘Na Manzoor’ (We reject) even before knowing what Azm-e-Istehkam would be.

The attack on Chinese nationals in the Besham area was a turning point in the situation because it was understood by everybody who loves Pakistan that terrorists living in Afghanistan are specifically targeting the economic interests of Pakistan with a clear objective to discourage foreign investments in the country.  Pakistan is facing a twin crisis because it has been going through the dangerous convergence of a collapsing economy and economic terrorism since 2021 and the route of economic terrorism lies in KPK and Pak-Afghan bordering areas. Financial Terrorism which is also known as Economic Terrorism manipulates Pakistan’s economy and terroristic attacks near ports and land borders (attacks in and around Gwadar Port, Karachi Port, attacks around Pak-Afghan bordering areas) cause extra burden on Pakistan because safe arrival and departure of the products (imports and exports) affected the country’s ability to combat poverty that triggers political destabilization, forcing an even greater increase in poverty.

In 2005 the Geneva Centre for Security Policy released an in-depth research that defined economic terrorism in detail and if someone reads this document, would understand that whoever is behind TTP, BLA, and other terror outfits has intensely designed Economic Terrorism against Pakistan. The document of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy explains the following terms of Financial/Economic Terrorism:

Contrary to “economic warfare” which is undertaken by states against other states, “economic terrorism” would be undertaken by transnational or non-state actors. This could entail varied, coordinated, and sophisticated or massive destabilizing actions to disrupt the economic and financial stability of a state or a society for ideological or religious motives.

The Economic Terrorism impacts as:

  • Immediate Loss of Human and Nonhuman Capital.
  • Effects of Uncertainty on Consumer and Investor Behavior.
  • Effects of Retrenchment on Specific Industries or Localities.
  • Increased costs of security analogous to a “security” or “terrorist tax”.
  • Impact on supply chains.
  • Smuggling of currency for bleeding the country economically.
  • Smuggling of edible products to create serious food security in the target country.
  • Encouraging undocumented economy.
  • Controlling routes for disrupting supply chains.
  • Attacking and harassing local and foreign investors (reference attacks on Chinese experts and ransom threats to industrialists, businessmen, and traders in Pakistan).

For decades, citizens of Afghanistan had been transferring the economic resources of Pakistan as well as US currency to Afghanistan with the support of local businessmen, traders, politicians, and criminal outfits. Parallel systems such as Hawala and Hundi are solely operated through KPK via Afghan citizens sitting abroad from where they send money to Pakistan through Hawala and Hundi and they encourage Pakistanis living abroad not to use banking channels for the transfer of money thereby Pakistani remittances were nosediving. The crackdown on currency smuggling created a hue and cry among a political cadre of KPK but controlling smuggling resulted in the stabilization of Pakistan’s economy within months.

In 2023, Pakistan decided to fix the situation and sent illegal foreigners back to their countries, launching a crackdown on Hawala and Hundi business and edible smuggling to Afghanistan such actions surely harmed the economic and business interests of powerful strata of KPK society including also politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, traders and even journalists and media men. Now all of them are anxious over the announcement of ‘Operation Azm-e-Istehkam’ and they are collaborating to protect their vested interests because many of them understand that Operation Azm-e-Istehkam would be deep-rooted and it would not only just military actions rather it will unearth connections of facilitators of smugglers, terrorists and everybody that is directly or indirectly involved in destabilizing Pakistan and working to discourage foreign investments in Pakistan. By blocking Operation Azm-e-Istehkam, they are trying to serve their economic interests but at the cost of the stability and well-being of their country—-Pakistan. Should patriotic Pakistan not stand against such elements?

 

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