Counter-terrorism policy: successes and failures

Asim-Bajwa-ISPR-600x330WEB DESK: Addressing a press conference, ISPR Director General, Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa informed journalists about major successes security agencies’ intelligence-based operations have achieved in Karachi during the last few months. He described in detail foiling of a militant gang’s attempt to free dangerous extremists from a Hyderabad jail through an elaborate network of facilitators, which included a member of the prison staff.

Also, he said 97 militants had been arrested, among them three such “high value targets” as Karachi chief of the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Atta-ur-Rehman with a head money of Rs 20 million; his deputy Sabir Khan with a head money of Rs five million; and Naib Emir of al Qaeda in the subcontinent, Farooq Bhatti. The kind of threat these people pose to the security and stability of this country is obvious from the fact that LeJ, al Qaeda in the subcontinent and several TTP groups have pledged allegiance to the so-call Islamic State.

Reassuring as these successes are, there is a lot more that remains to be done to eliminate terrorism root and branch. A key missing element in the ongoing fight against terrorism is the civilian share of responsibilities. It has been over a year when the government announced the setting up of National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta), under which the various civilian and military intelligence agencies were to share information. It is yet to become operational, and the reasons are as frivolous as can be. For quite some time, the government has kept dragging its feet on the provision of necessary funds. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan recently came up with the excuse that the building for the directorate is under construction. There is no explanation as to why such an important organisation could not function out of some other government office.

Then some of the most important decisions forming the National Action Plan remain unimplemented. For instance, a report emerging out of a recent briefing the Prime Minister alongside the CoAS was given at the ISI headquarters shows such a simple but vital issue as cutting off militant organisations’ funding is yet to be addressed. Similarly, proscribed organisations continue to operate under new names. Earlier this month, leaders of at least three banned outfits addressed a huge Kashmir Solidarity Day rally in Islamabad right under the federal government’s nose.

On the one hand this government claims credit for having arrested thousands on account of hate speech, on the other hand, the interior ministry keeps dilly-dallying on its responsibility of carrying out madressah reforms, with the result that young minds continue to be poisoned with extremist ideologies, preparing a new crop of hate mongers.

Needless to say, military operations in Fata and the security agencies’ intelligence-based operations in different parts of the country alone are not going to rid this society of decades of radicalisation. It is a long fight. It cannot be won without thwarting the extremist thought the madressah education implants in young minds. Equally important is the need to weed out militancy and bigotry promoting ideas from curriculums taught in the mainstream public school system. It is about time the civilian leadership got its act together not only to confront the militants but also to change the conditions that produce the extremist mindset.

Source: Business Recorder