By J. J. Baloch
Accusing Pakistan of not doing more, the Trump administration suspended $ 2 billion security assistance to Pakistan in the opening month of current year. While addressing Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2018 this month, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa unfolded the ethos of Pakistan’s new security doctrine. Head of Pakistan’s military took an esteemed stance by making it clear to the world that Pakistan has done enough and the global community needs to do more now. The security analysts at RUSI, UK, referred General’s candid stance as the “Bajwa Doctrine“. The doctrine underscored many elements of Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy which are highlighted in the following paragraphs.
Roots of Terrorism in Pakistan: Pakistan was a peaceful and progressive country in the 1960s but the 1970s decade proved disastrous for Pakistan as the events like secession of Bangladesh in 1971, followed by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Islamic revolution in Iran took place in late 1970s. The breakup of Pakistan did not affect our society as deeply as the cataclysmic changes in our neighbouring Muslim countries did! A war was inflicted on us on the grounds of religion and sectarianism; before this, we never knew that as a Muslims we were either Sunnis or Shias.
War made in the USA: With the help of Western free world, our Madrassas became centres of new ideological dozes under the new insertion of the exceptional clause of fighting in self-defence. Pakistan defeated al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban, Bait-ul-Ahrar and other outlawed militant groups. Young Muslims were recruited, radicalized and then disowned when they won a success for us. Many people were empowered with wealth and power and we can’t just whisk them away as we are reaping what we sowed 40 years ago. It is naive to presume that the USA is not alive to this open secret.
Pakistan’s Sacrifices in War: Pakistan army has waged a bloody and relentless war against terrorism and extremism at the monumental human and material cost. Over 35000 Pakistanis have lost their lives and 48,000 critically wounded and its economic cost exceeds $ 250 billion US dollars. The only fraction of this loss has been shared by our global partners. Though this war has caused colossal damage to our society and statehood, yet it has redefined our resolve and has gone too far in uniting and cementing our nation. Many blocks of ice of isolation, alienation, desolation, violence, corruption, division and dearth are melting now in Pakistan, making the Indus saga fertile with the new spirit of sacrifice, new ideas, new patriotism, new social bonding and new hope.
Terrorist Sanctuaries in Afghanistan: Terrorists have sanctuaries in Afghanistan, from where attacks are being coordinated against Pakistan. Afghanistan’s instability and internal insecurity hurt Pakistan because it is being used by the terrorists for carrying out their terrorist activities in Pakistan, misusing our hospitality. In 2017 out of 130 terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s areas bordering Afghanistan, 123 were conceived, planned and executed from inside Afghanistan. We do not blame them because we understand the predicament of the Afghan government, but all this is happening despite the presence of our strategic NATO alliance in Afghanistan.
Western Failure in Afghanistan: The causes of the failure of NATO strategy is not the presence of Haqqani network or Afghan Taliban but a pursuit of a wrong strategy that despite spending $ 1.4 trillion US dollars, the situation can best be described as “stalemate”. It is time to look into the causes of NATO failure and make exhaustive audit into the situation instead of the blame game. It is very important for NATO strategists and scenarioists to learn that there is no universal war strategy, that there must be a difference between eliminating terrorists and genocide or territorial conquests. It is really strange for a theorist to develop a framework of such strategy that is designed establish imperialism in the name of building peace or how a peace industry of the West works well in the impeace of Afghanistan where natives are still to understand the real meaning of peace and order.
Importance of Border Fencing: It serves two purposes; it not only prevent criminal elements to enter Pakistan from Afghan side but also deter same from Pakistan side. Pakistan is ready to cooperate for peace and stability in Afghanistan, however, joint efforts by all the countries to eradicate the menace of terrorism are the need of the hour. In this regard, Pakistan has undertaken fencing of its border with Afghanistan and that elimination of terrorism requires global cooperation. Afghanistan and Pakistan are two sovereign nations and have right to development and they must ensure that their soils are not used against each other.
National Action Plan: Pakistan is implementing National Action Plan (NAP), a national counterterrorism strategy under which actions have been taken not only against the terrorists but also against their financiers. Over 1100 Al-Qaida operatives killed in Pakistan and over 600 handed over to the US. Pakistan is instrumental in the war on terror as it has also brought diverse stakeholders on negotiating tables. No organised militant camp exists on Pakistani soil today.
Daesh Element: So far as we have been able to deny any foothold to Daesh (Islamic State) in Pakistan but Daesh militants’ regrouping in Afghanistan is going on and this is the threat for Afghanistan, Pakistan and global community as a whole. However, for time being our claim of Daesh having no foothold may not hold any longer as either political settlement of Islamic state with political regimes or their military defeats may drive them to Afghanistan or Pakistan that could be very challenging for us and we need to prepare for it well in advance.
Afghan Refugee Problem: There are 54 Afghan refugee camps housing 2.7 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan which are the major source of concern for Pakistan and there is the urgent need for their repatriation. Afghan refugee camps need to close now and National Action plan of Pakistan stresses this need. Confusion and indecision at the policy level are one of the many dysfunctions of our institutional approach to implementing National Action Plan provisions which is quite unequivocal in its diction to get Afghan refugees back to their country as Pakistan has done a lot for them.
Misconstructions of Jihadism: The only state can sanction Jihad and the clerics from all schools of thought in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world have issued a joint decree against terrorism and extremism in the name of religion. “There is no denying of the fact that a powerful concept such as Jihad can be easily misused for propagating extremism and terrorism, particularly as many Muslims world over are not only feeling alienated but disowned, targeted and devoid of positive expression.” “The present jihadism is a misnomer. Jihad is a high award concept that underlines struggle against the tyranny of all types. Muslims are taught that control of self is the most alleviated form of Jihad. There is also saying of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that the best of Jihad is a word of truth in the face of a tyrant ruler. On the other hand, Qital (fighting) and the aspect of armed Jihad comes at the lowest end of the spectrum of actions and beliefs that comprise the concept of Jihad and can only be sanctioned by a state authority and nobody else.”
Irrelevance of Caliphate in Pakistan: “The concept of the caliphate, which is more of a ‘nostalgic response’, rather than the actual possibility for most Muslims. In Pakistan, the notion of the caliphate has not found any traction.” The indoctrination of our vulnerable youth by Daesh elements on social media and internet cannot be ruled out and we need to ensure our stronger cyber control regimes by adapting to relevant legal measures, policy initiatives and enforcement mechanisms in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy: It is multipronged; it is not confined to military operations but includes generating public opinion against terrorists, placing better policing and prosecution, reforming education, curbing terror finance, controlling hate materials, cultivating religious and scholarly consensus on counter-narrative against terrorism, using media tool for disorienting the moral grounds the terrorists use, involving all stakeholders, offering complete cooperation to partners in war, gathering actionable intelligence and using reconciliatory tools wherever effective to diffuse volatile situations.
Analysing the speech of General Bajwa, Kamal Alam, a security analyst at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a leading British think-tank working in defence and international security, maintained “Pakistan has done more than enough to secure neighbouring Afghanistan, and is not intimidated by the threat of US funding cuts. Pakistan army under “Bajwa Doctrine” is biting back hard against threats issued by the American administration and far more confident than it was when the Americans threatened its then President, General Musharraf, to bomb Pakistan into the stone age if it didn’t comply with American demands. Pakistan army is now “battle-hardened after 17 years of war on its western frontier and regular skirmishes on its eastern border” and the world, in the shape of China, Russia, Turkey and Iran, have all come to Pakistan’s defence as America loses influence in Islamabad. Pakistan is now adamant that the time for American threats and directives is over. Days after Trump announced the freezing of aid, Pakistan announced it would trade in the Chinese Yuan, amidst reports that China was getting ready to open a naval base in Pakistan, its second overseas military base after Djibouti.”
“Our actions are constrained by capacity and not by will. Pakistan has played an instrumental role in destruction and dissemination of Al-Qaida from Afghanistan. The struggle continues but the threat is morphing”, the CAOS said closing his speech. It is time for tit for tat and Pakistani nation should stand by their both civil as well as military leadership to take the decisions that serve our country’s interests. Enough is enough now.
The writer is the author of “Whiter than White” Novel and a Fellow of London School of Economics. He is a senior police officer at Police Service of Pakistan.