A losing strategy
As a sovereign nation, Pakistan must engage in serious introspection over its use of terrorist activities to forward its goals at a time when it is finding itself increasingly isolated
As the measures to counter the menace of terror are intensified by the global community, Pakistan continues to be under the lens for a slew of terror strikes perpetrated at its behest causing irreparable damage within and outside the precincts of Pakistan. This calls for serious introspection. In this regard, a very interesting piece appeared in a Pakistani daily, 'The Express Tribune' dated September 27, captioned 'Traitors in our midst'.
The write up comes down heavily on the Government and the terrorists (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) for the dastardly terror assault of December 2014 at the Army Public School, Peshawar in which 131 children perished. Here comes the element of introspection as the daily says that "it is abysmal that our blood played a hand in glove with the enemies". The terrorists who crossed the border from Afghanistan and came to Peshawar were sheltered by certain residents within the school's vicinity. If the terrorists had acted as per their conscience, so many innocent lives of the children could have been spared. It's significant that six years after the school terror attack, the question of introspection is being raised. And rightly so. Also, recently, the report submitted by the Judicial Commission highlighting alarming security lapses, which probed the attack has been made public. On its part, however, the Government appeared reluctant to put the enquiry report in the public domain but it did do so under the express instructions of the Pakistan Supreme Court.
The trauma, caused by the killing of the children, still haunts Pakistan seeking introspection and corrective measures to stop the threats of terror. Analysts say that the National Action Plan which hurriedly came into being after the Peshawar School attack has so far failed to show any desired results. Under these circumstances, it's clear that Pakistan which has been promoting cross border terrorism in India and Pakistan is looking albeit cosmetically to introspect because it was hurt when the terrorists struck in their backyard. This certainly doesn't give any sadistic pleasure but reveals the indifferent stance on part of the Pakistani establishment to uproot terror. There doesn't seem to be a concrete anti-terror policy.
It doesn't stop here. Pakistan is deeply embarrassed by the arrest of an 18-year-old Pakistani teenager who was very recently arrested by the French authorities for being in possession of a meat cleaver, stabbing many near the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. We must not overlook the fact that this teenager was determined to avenge the caricature created by Charlie Hebdo in 2015 which led to a violent reaction by the religious extremists taking a toll of 17 innocent lives. We must also not turn a blind eye to the fact that this perpetrator came to France from Pakistan nearly three years ago when he was barely 15. He admitted to having carried out the attack, assuming full responsibility. This gives a fair idea of the level of religious indoctrination being carried out in Pakistan, churning out terrorists to mainly target people outside Pakistan. There are cases in many other parts of Europe other than France where Pakistanis are complicit in terror cases. In this particular case, French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin stated that the cleaver attack was an act of Islamic terrorism. This has further shamed Pakistan.
Meanwhile, French intelligence authorities have stepped up surveillance over Pakistanis concentrated in Pantin and Seine-Saint-Denis in the suburb north of Paris. It's discreetly learnt in the meantime, that among all the Tunisian, Moroccan, Algerian and other North-African individuals, French police is singling out Pakistanis to foil any repeat of the cleaver type attack which wounded several employees of the Premieres Lignes TV production agency located close to the office of Charlie Hebdo.
Alarmed by Pakistan's hand in a spurt in terror cases at Pakistan's behest, the Indian representative, while speaking at the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism at a virtual meeting (September 28) organised under the aegis of UN Office of Counter-Terrorism), called upon the global community to intervene for arrests of those terrorists involved in the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 and the Pathankot and Uri attacks of 2016. In a strongly worded rhetoric, it called for concerted efforts for creating a dedicated voluntary fund to support the victims of terror especially women and children. It further called upon to complete this action at the UN Global Congress of Victims of Terror scheduled in 2021.
Amid the ongoing anti-terror meets and the strong words spoken against Pakistan, the Indian authorities mustn't lower its guard at any cost. Importantly, the National Investigation Authority (NIA) has carried out raids in various parts of the country only last week arresting several activists linked to Pakistan supported Al-Qaeda. It would appear there is an organised terror syndicate active under the Pakistan agencies to subvert Indian interests. Paris type stabbings on the lines of lone-wolf attacks remain a possibility. While Pakistan is introspecting for its terror centric follies, its efforts, as always, are never sincere. It stands exposed time and again. Within three years of the killing of Osama bin Laden who was comfortably sheltered in Abbottabad where an entire military garrison was present, the Peshawar school carnage occurred and that too in a Cantonment area. It's surely a slur to a 73-year-old country which has terror as a malady with potential to contaminate its neighbours but remains reluctant to cure the malaise. Introspection is a must but Pakistani efforts should be wholehearted and not feeble as Pakistan seems to do.
The writer is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Views expressed are personal