Religiously motivated terrorism of Al-Qaeda, its affiliates and franchises have been a big challenge internationally. United States and its European allies have 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 a large segment of population. In the international arena 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 threat. So far Pakistan has been successful against the terrorists militarily and ideologically. The resilience of its people, their political awareness and professionalism of its Army and Security Forces have proved as an effective bulwark against terrorism.
International propaganda and hostile elements have always projected Pakistan as a state which is crumbling due to the onslaught of terrorism. The takeover of its nuclear weapons by extremists and failure of Pakistan state apparatus remain popular notions in international media. Unfortunately, the resolve of Pakistanis in defeating terrorists and commitment of its Security Forces to this cause is always underestimated.
Terrorists have primarily waged a war against the citizens of Pakistan, their values, beliefs and their national assets. Suicide bombings and terrorists’ attacks on schools, markets, transportation facilities, Mosques, Shrines and Imambargahs have killed approximately 55 thousand Pakistanis while the economic losses are also huge. But the deadly campaign of terror has failed in inflicting irrevocable losses to the state of Pakistan. In fact, few thousand militants occupying a part of FATA can never capture whole Pakistan nor subjugate its 200 million resolute people.
If we observe the trends and patterns of terrorism in Muslim States, we find out that democratic societies were less susceptible to 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 authorities. On the other hand, countries like Iraq and Libya were easily run over by Al-Qaeda and ISIL because people have a sense of
depravation due to the authoritarian mode of Government. 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 Pakistan Armed Forces. Pakistanis are very proud of their troops who have sacrificed 6 thousand lives in war against terrorism. Pakistan Army consists of 6 lacs 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 countered militant insurgencies in Swat and FATA. While its role 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 militants’ resistance along the Pak-Afghan border.
Despite deadly terrorists’ attacks, Pakistan’s state apparatus is 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. General public and Government are always willing to strengthen their hands against terrorists. Recently, Government has also announced a consensus National Action Plan (NAP) to ensure that no terrorist can escape law of the land.
In the light of these facts and ground realities, it can be concluded that Pakistanis will never tolerate extremist to take over their country and its security institutions are fully capable and committed to defeat Al-Qaeda, TTP and other militants.
(Iftikhar Hussain Jazib)