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June 25, 2018

Security inextricably intertwined


June 25, 2018

The “Butcher of Swat”, Mullah Fazlullah has now been sent packing in a recent US drone attack who earlier sneaked into Afghanistan when spectacularly successful Swat Operation was launched against the TTP during the watch of PPP government led by then prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani. Its success can be gauged from the facts that IDPs were back in their villages and homes to resume their day-to-day life just after three months of the operation, an exceptional success story of counter-terrorism operation indeed.

The enthralling news of taking out of Mullah Fazlullah was initially taken with skepticism when local media quoting Afghan intelligence sources broke the news. But, its confirmation by not less than the Afghan President Ghani himself shed all the doubts as he shared it with the prime minister of Pakistan and the Army Chief by making telephone calls.

Initially, the people at large were in a state of disbelief and took it casually as such news in the past was contradicted immediately by terrorist’s spokesman causing faux pas to the official circles. But, this time round their delay to rebut the news lent credence to the claim of the official and intelligence sources whose assertion gained credibility as the days passed by without hearing from the terrorists about their chief’s fatality or otherwise. On last Saturday the TTP confirmed the killing of their chief and has appointed Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud as the new chief of TTP.

Earlier, the TTP would ridicule the news of TTP chief’s killing by immediately issuing the denial stating the reported killing as ridiculous and nothing more that the figment of the imagination reflective of wishful thinking of the bunch of morons. The subsequent release of video or his message on media would inflict severe blow to the credibility of the news media and the responsible quarters alike while the terrorist outfit would ride the tide of savagery, chivalry and audacity though with misplaced pride. But, this time Mullah Fazlullah had ran out of luck and was killed because those who played with swords die by swords. He was responsible for deadly attacks in Pakistan including the more gruesome like in the Army Public School Peshawar in which more than hundred students were massacred. He deserved the brutal and horrible death as he was horrific monster walking in the hilly terrains close to Pak-Afghan border.

Now, the most hated and coward terrorist leader has become history to face the fury of the Divine Justice for his despicable crimes, but his gruesome vestiges may stay put. His misguided ideology may live on to trigger mayhem in the country because his followers believe in imposition, enslavement and elimination of those who do not subscribe to their brand of religion and way of life. The TTP has appointed the new leader who may be more vicious and ruthless if the past history is to be taken into account in similar situation with regard to the appointment of the TTP top leader. Baitullah Mehsud and Mullah Mansoor were of the worst kind of TTP leader after Naek Muhammad’s killing. The hopes of scaling down of the wave of terrorism in the country as a result under the new leadership may be pretty pre-mature reflective of wishful thinking. They will be in vicious frame of mind to settle scores not in the too distant future. Beware, security forces must not be caught napping. Their state of alertness must be at the optimum level to deny them any opportunity to breach the security network. Never underestimate the enemy and be ready to inflict fatal blow before the adversary pulls the triggers.

The killing of the TTP chief may be deemed as a significant setback to the outfit but it may not give the casus belli (pretext) to the state of Pakistan and its guardians to think of cooling their heels because the mercurial enemy can turn back any time soon with vengeance embroiled in desperation. So, there is dire and urgent need to remain in high level of vigil to deny the enemy the advantages of its unpredictability and of time. Enemy’s desperation to take revenge in order to bolster the morale of the terrorists may not be ruled out. They may be looking for unleashing bigger catastrophe to pull down the elevated morale of the officials and the security agencies after the killing of their chief. While, Mullah Fazlullah is in the house of the dead now but his despicable bloody legacy is likely to sustain and therefore the security forces may not lower their guards. The TTP may be fuming with the fury of taking revenge that may prove as short in the arms of terrorists who are understandably demoralised. Therefore, the level of preparedness of the security apparatus may not be subject to any degree of laxity. The nation and the security establishment cannot afford even the slightest chink in its armory in the face of the viciousness and savagery of the faceless enemy totally devoid of civility or human values.

The talk of cooperation, away from the glare of media, between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been in the air quite lately. It may be sensible strategy because once the diplomatic and security matters are left at the mercy of endless debate in media the prospects of progress generally get eclipsed for the worst. The killing of TTP chief though may not be surely linked to the recent understanding between Afghanistan and Pakistan but it may create enabling environment to proceed further on pro-active basis to improve relations between the two countries keeping in view the security exigencies. The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have been longing perennially to face the menace of terrorism together because the continuity of their frayed relations is a source of immense strength to TTP and the Afghan Taliban to continue the fighting against the two states and the people. Hopefully, the new realisation may have finally seeped into the minds and bloods of the two countries’ establishments though after suffering colossal losses both in blood and treasure. Better late than never.

Fair-minded political and defence observers have been repeatedly urging to bring about change in the Afghan policy which was quintessentially myopic, self-defeating and therefore doomed to fail. The “strategic depth” doctrine had become the albatross of our security policy to the extent that we even evade mentioning it in public discourses for its being grossly redundant and irrelevant. It is deemed as responsible for creating ill-will for Pakistan among the Afghan people right across. The hitherto failed policies of the two countries have reinforced the imperative that their security is heavily dependent on each other. The way to achieve the cherished objective lies in total commitment to the shared vision. Playing to the gallery will not do any good to either country.

Afghanistan and Pakistan may continue to augment the recent cooperation against the terrorist groups in the respective countries who had been thriving and getting the lease of life in an environment of mistrust, outrage and incrimination between the two countries. The recent visits of the Army Chief General Bajwa, to meet the Afghan president and the return visit of the Afghan high level delegation to Pakistan suggested that serious efforts were underway to make up the lost times and missed opportunities. The formulation of the reported strategy along with the various working groups to address the issues of immediate nature gave the reasons to believe that the leadership of the two countries may be on the trajectory to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of peace on durable basis. Better sense seems to have prevailed finally. The anecdotal evidences suggest that the two countries have decided to shrink the space for terrorists in the respective countries. If so, this is much awaited positive development that may improve security situation in both the countries both in the short and long run. The international community in general and the regional powers in particular are keen to see the success of the endeavours so important to realise the full potentials of the region dedicated to improve the lot of the people of the region.

US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Alice Wells only last week reportedly informed Congress that Pakistan was still on notice to perform against the Afghan terrorists who had allegedly found safe havens on its soil. It calls for serious introspection because Pakistan cannot afford hostile neighbourhood or the hostility of the US. It may be kept in mind that Pakistan’s 60% foreign exchange earnings come from the US market. Besides, US wield considerable influence on the international financial institutions that may affect our access to seek credit facilities desperately needed in the face of fast depleting foreign reserves of the country. We need to tread very carefully to evade President Trump turning his gun towards us like he did in case of China, European allies, Canada and Mexico. US president is quite capable of taking steps unilaterally to the scant regard to the international laws and accepted norms of international diplomacy. He kicked sand in the European allies what to speak of Pakistan in his calculations. May God bless Pakistan’s policy makers the wisdom to make right policy choices. Save us God from the troubles lurking in the close proximity!

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