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National Security Policy

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Don’t expect a miracle to happen

The ignoble massacre of children and teachers in Peshawar has led to unprecedented anger and grief across the country. The state has responded by ending the moratorium on the death penalty and convicted terrorists are now being hanged. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced that the days of differentiating between the good and the bad Taliban are over. A parliamentarians’ committee is reviewing counterterrorism measures that need to be adopted. The military leadership has undertaken the diplomatic-security initiative to engage with Afghan authorities on potential action that can nab the Taliban leadership based in Afghanistan.
All these measures are important and noteworthy. The ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb is here to stay and perhaps, is likely to be extended to other areas. But the central question is, whether these tactical moves are sufficient to tackle the hydra-headed Frankenstein’s monsters that Pakistan’s flawed national security policy has created, sustained and nurtured, sometimes with outside support and on occasions totally on its own. There is a name for this Frankenstein’s monster and it is known as jihad — a narrow, self-seeking interpretation of an otherwise lofty and ethereal religious concept. The struggle embedded in jihad — according to most scholars and not semi-literate clerics — is self-improvement. Instead, this has turned into a spectator sport where private militias carry out state objectives in the region and within the land of the pure.
This trajectory is an old one. It did not happen overnight nor was it a ploy of the Unites States and other powers to get Pakistan into a royal mess. In 1948, ‘jihadis’ from the tribal regions started with the battle of Kashmir that continues to date. Conventional wars or private ‘jihad’ efforts have brought neither glory to Pakistan nor relief for the Kashmiris, most of whom are sick of India and Pakistan treating their land and rights as national fiefs. […]

Peshawar attack: Pakistan’s 9/11 moment?

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Pakistan faces a challenge largely of its own creation and only political processes can correct it, argues Raza Rumi.

The attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School and the killing of more than 130 children creates a new watershed in Pakistan’s battle against terrorism.

Maligned globally as a ‘hub’ of terror, Pakistan has suffered immensely in the past decade. More than 50,000 of its civilians have been killed and over 15,000 security personnel have laid down their lives.

Pakistan’s policy choices of the past have been far from sagacious and its purported self confessed identity as an Islamic State has not helped matters. More than that it is the curse of geography that has haunted the nation.

For 30 years, it has been an active participant in Afghan wars directly and indirectly and the perceived threat from the larger neighbour India is almost an article of faith.

December 16 also marks the anniversary of the humiliation that Pakistan suffered when in 1971 East Pakistan with India’s support became independent.

In 1947 the country’s founder called the country he created s ‘moth eaten’ and ‘truncated’ and since 1971 the insecurity has only grown.

How far is that an imagined construct, how much of it is to continue to run it as a martial State has been subject of unresolved debate — yet to be resolved.

The Afghan policy of the 1980s and patronage to the Taliban movement in the 1990s is part of that insecure worldview. National security has been defined in limited terms and the reliance on non State actors to work as support system for the formal security apparatus remains a policy tenet. Yet there are signs of change.

One such shift was the decisive operation against the militants launched in June. Thus far the operation was cited as successful with the regaining of territory and eliminating militant hideouts. […]

December 18th, 2014|Extremism, Pakistan, Published in Rediff, terrorism|1 Comment

The search for a new security paradigm

Latest for The Friday Times

Recently, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, elaborated on the losses incurred by the country in fighting terrorism, while making a policy statement in the Parliament. He cited 3,700 major terrorist incidents that took place from 2005 to 2007 across the country, which resulted in 3,500 casualties. The Minister added that during the period 2008-2012, 8,514 incidents of terrorism claimed the lives of 9,600 people, leaving another 25,000 injured. An estimate (by South Asia Terrorism Portal) suggests that since 2003, Pakistan has lost over 22,838 innocent lives.

Financially, Pakistan, has suffered losses around $100 billion according to different reports. The actual figure may be lower but given the destruction and loss of livelihoods this may just be close to the actual figures. This devastating estimate spans twelve years since 9/11 and Pakistan’s subsequent support to US efforts in Afghanistan.

In the recent years, the lack of a detailed, viable counter-terrorism policy by Pakistan has often been called into question. Successive governments have failed to adequately deliver on security concerns, while the military still exists in a stasis about terrorists in Afghanistan or local, radicalized organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba or the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – outfits that were deemed vital to Pakistan’s geopolitical concerns.

As Ayesha Siddiqa has noted, “Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy in Afghanistan is rife with inherent contradictions, caught between an inclination to fight militant forces and yet having to partner with some to strengthen its future bargaining position” (The Washington Quarterly, Winter 2011). Therefore it can be deduced that Pakistan’s juggling of its multitude of concerns – a future in Afghanistan that offsets India’s efforts in the country, a stable relationship with the US and the geostrategic significance of Kashmir – all play into the state’s muddled foreign policy framework.

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