Saturday June 22, 2024

Cost of terror

By Editorial Board
March 25, 2023

The martyrdom of Brigadier Mustafa Kamal Burki during an encounter with hardcore terrorists in Angoor Adda, South Waziristan, should raise alarm bells for everyone associated with the security infrastructure in the country. This is a huge loss – Brig Burki was involved in active counterterrorism operations and had successfully dismantled numerous terrorist networks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. He was also instrumental in neutralizing the terrorist networks involved in the 2014 APS attack. His and his companion’s – his driver – loss is both tragic and immensely alarming. That such a high-profile intelligence target was martyred by terrorists shows that the security situation remains precarious in the country. The recent terror incidents in the country should already have served as a wakeup call but terrorists have continued to attack our security forces, and target intelligence officials with impunity. These are not attacks carried out on a whim; the planning and execution of such attacks requires proper intel and preparation. In January, the TTP had in a letter explicitly mentioned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in a threatening tone. Attacks have been carried out by the TTP in Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Bannu and several other cities. The situation is precarious and requires the state and government to strategize sooner than later.

Over the years we have lost scores of military men and civilian lives to this fight. Is it not time this terror is brought to a halt one way or the other? The question is how to achieve this. We all know negotiations have not worked, and military operations on their own have short-lived success. A far more sophisticated and intelligent strategy is required. This would involve a mix of military operations and focusing on new recruits in the TTP, who would be more susceptible to quitting terror. It would also require bringing those in senior positions in the TTP responsible for heinous crimes to book once and for all.

For too long have we seen a distinction made between the Afghan Taliban as the ‘good Taliban’ and the TTP as the ‘bad Taliban’. For years, experts have been warning the Pakistani state and government that any negotiations with the TTP would fail. There have also been fair assessments that we need to ask the Taliban government in Afghanistan to ensure that the TTP is restrained within the Afghan border and not allowed to carry out cross-border attacks. Not only have we seen that the frequency of such attacks has increased but the resettlement of the TTP in Swat has led to a lot of disturbance for the locals in those areas too. Right now, we need a proper counterterrorism policy to deal with the menace of TTP and a proper foreign policy on how to deal with the Afghan Taliban. The security of the nation has to be secured and this can happen only if the militant scourge is dealt both with military action and with a more holistic policy aimed at defeating terrorism wherever it exists and in whatever form.