Monday September 20, 2021

Daesh: The new emerging threat for Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The ultra-extremist Islamic State, generally known as Daesh, has raised new serious security challenge for Pakistan where over the years the form, tactics and nature of terrorism has been changed.

“The emergence of Daesh in close proximity to Pakistan has raised new internal security challenges. The potential for spill over in Pakistan with the support and collaboration of TTP and its offshoots is not a possibility to be ignored. This situation has been compounded by the return of battle-hardened militants from Syria and Iraq,” read new National Internal Security Policy (NISP) approved by federal cabinet last week. Over 120 experts have been directly involved in the formulation of NISP 2018-2023 which established a multi-pronged strategy to meet the goals.

“The threat of transnational terrorism is rearing its head again. TTP militants have relocated to Afghanistan. Daesh is establishing a footprint in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border with a very real potential of spillover into parts of Pakistan. This situation has been compounded by the return of battle hardened militants from Syria and Iraq,” read the policy, an official copy of also available with this correspondent.

The new policy further revealed that there is adequate evidence that radicalisation and militancy is no longer limited to Madaris alone. “Young people from relatively affluent and middle-class backgrounds, educated in mainstream universities and schools, are also vulnerable to extremist ideas and narratives. Terrorism is as much an urban phenomenon as rural and needs to be tackled as such. Cyber space has emerged as a key domain for the spread of extremist ideas,” read the executive summary of NISP which includes: “Reorient, Re-imagine, Reconcile, Redistribute, Recognise and an adoption of a Regional Approach.”

NISP Implementation Committee would also be formed to periodically oversee implementation on NISP 2018. It'll consist of Minister of Interior (Chairperson), National Security Adviser, Secretaries Interior, Foreign Affairs, Defence, Finance, Revenue & Economic Affairs, Information, Broadcasting, National History & Literary heritage and Religious Affairs & Interfaith Harmony, National Coordinator Nacta, Director General IB, Director General ISI, Provincial Chief Secretaries and all IGPs.

The first of its kind policy approved by the federal cabinet further read that the educational campuses have seen a rise in incidents of violent extremism. “Threat of cyber-attacks has grown in volume and has become more sophisticated. Besides these new challenges, traditional threats to internal security in the form of acts of violence committed by religious, sectarian, ethno-political and sub-nationalist outfits persist.”

The NISP also identifies youth alienation and frustration, exclusionary identity narratives, a lack of social justice and the rule of law, regional disparities, lack of accountability and inclusion and foreign linkages as significant drivers of insecurity. Furthermore, lack of quality research to understand the pathways to and causes of religious and ethnic militancy have impeded the development of evidence-based programming and policies, it added.

Pakistan has lost more than 70,000 people and suffered a loss of $123 billion over the past 15 years, revealed the new policy. A number of steps have been taken to choke terror financing, establishing a National Task Force on combating financing of terrorism, a coordinating body of over 20 federal and provincial organisations, stated the policy revealing that 66 organisations were proscribed with 7,966 individuals placed under watch as of March 2018. Over 90 percent geo-mapping of religious seminaries (madaris) has been completed across the country while efforts to introduce wide-ranging madaris reforms are underway, it added. The port city Karachi witnesses 97 percent decrease in target killings, 87 percent in the murder rate, 84 percent in business extortion and 72 percent in bank robberies, read the policy. Registration and regularisation of madaris in a uniform manner in all provinces will be ensured; policy suggested that all provinces will be encouraged to develop legislation for mainstreaming madaris. “Conditional state funding in return for a financial audit, adoption of national curriculum, teaching of science subjects and examinations system will be institutionalised. This will not only reduce mutually harboured misconceptions and distrust but must also lead to shared research and insights into the drivers of and solutions to insecurity, militancy, and extremism. Federal government will work with provinces and religious leaders to initiate wide-ranging reforms aimed at making mosques centres of learning and religious guidance for people.” A committee of religious scholars (with representation from all schools of thought) will be established for the formulation of a recommended syllabi, examination and training for Imams, NISP reads that specialised training will be offered to Imams under the supervision of the committee of religious scholars and administered by Ministry of Religious Affairs.

“Qualified Imams will be incentivised through a monthly stipend paid by the government. Recommended guidelines and narrative for Friday sermons will be prepared by the committee of religious scholars in collaboration with government. Funding will be offered to set up libraries at mosques and centres for Islamic studies under the supervision of Ministry of Religious Affairs assisted by the committee of scholars. Mosque committees will be reviewed and reconstituted to ensure effective management. All funds raised for setting up, maintenance or expansion of mosques will be audited by the government to ensure transparency,” reads the policy. There are 53 hotbeds of unrest and targets for terrorists in Fata, Balochistan, some areas of KP and Karachi which must be paid particular attention due to social and political contestation, reads NISP. Efforts will be made to build consensus on offering incentives for militants under clear and transparent terms to shun violence, reads the policy. A mechanism will be developed to review cases of militants who agree to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies. “De-radicalisation and rehabilitation programmes will be used to enable former militants to join the mainstream. Professionals and moderate scholars will be engaged for the said purpose. Children of suspected and caught militants must be taken care of and former militants, designated terrorists and members of armed gangs will be barred from political activities for a specified number of years depending on the nature of their activities by the commission,” NISP stated. No armed group must be allowed to operate a political wing and participate in electoral processes and vice versa and Nacta will compile data on Pakistani individuals linked with terror organisations involved in war theatres abroad, read the new policy. Compensation Package for the personnel/people who lose their lives and limbs will be made uniform across the country, read the policy. Security Analysis & Research Cell (SARC) at Ministry of Interior run by professionals will be established to provide research and analysis capability to develop deeper understanding of security challenges, read the policy that SARC will work closely with 60 think tanks, research centres, universities and other stakeholders to analyse cause and effect mechanisms of security issues and provide tailored solutions and policy recommendations. A Counter Terrorism and Counter Extremism Centres of Excellence will be established at Nacta run by professionals to provide research, analysis and training support to various arms of government stated the policy.