Saturday June 22, 2024

Go get them

By Azam Khalil
January 27, 2016

The recent attack on the Bacha Khan University, which left 21 innocent people dead, would have tripped the patience of any civilised country. However, our prime minister responded meekly when asked if his government was contemplating to take action against the perpetrators of this crime who are said to be in Afghanistan.

PM Sharif said there was a government in Afghanistan which had its own army and police and it was for them to take action against those criminals who had mounted this attack on unarmed students in Charsadda. Before this inhuman attack the Army Public School in Peshawar was chosen by these barbarians – resulting in a tremendous loss of life that led to anxiety and worry in the length and breadth of the country.

Even then the Nawaz government was reluctant to go the whole hog; the terrorists and a powerful lobby within the government had been preaching a negotiated solution with the terrorists. It was the army that took the initiative in its hands and proceeded to go after the terrorists through a determined plan – Operation Zarb-e-Azb. However the National Action Plan, which was agreed to by the civilian wing in this country, remains bogged down due to different reasons. These reasons have in fact not only slowed down the achievement of the desired goals of Operation Zarb-e-Azb but have also sowed the seeds of confusion and despondency, especially amongst the smaller provinces of the country.

A vast majority of the people of Pakistan wanted the general to go after the perpetrators of the Bacha Khan University attack; they wanted the general to either pluck them out or drone them in their hide-outs in Afghanistan. In the aftermath of the attack, the government of the day should have firmly demanded from the Afghan government to hand over the perpetrators of this crime because they had been identified and their sanctuaries were known to be in Afghanistan.

If the Afghan government had failed to deliver these terrorists Pakistan would be well within its rights to take covert or overt action against those who have been identified as the perpetrators. Such action should leave an impact on all other groups working as mercenaries or even with the backing of the Indians who work overtime in Afghanistan to foment trouble in this country.

The general must assign this task to his elite boys who must train hard and be fully prepared when the signal is given to them to go after these terrorists in their hideouts in Afghanistan and bring them here for justice or to eliminate them physically – whatever is considered appropriate in the given circumstances. In the meanwhile, maximum pressure must be exerted on the Afghan government so that they behave and cooperate on the issue of terrorism. Short of this, the people of Pakistan will continue to live in a state of confusion and despondency.

When General Asim Bajwa displays irrevocable evidence regarding the terrorists, their facilitators and those on whose orders these attacks were carried out then there is no reason for Pakistanis to dither on the issue. We must wrest the initiative from the terrorists and inflict punishing blows on them so that they are crippled and cannot mount a similar attack on Pakistani soil again. General Bajwa has categorically stated that the attack was planned and controlled from Afghanistan. After this statement it became all the more necessary for Pakistan to respond in kind in case the Afghan government failed to carry out its international obligation for the elimination of terrorism.

If the elected government chickened out on this issue a more robust reply is expected from the Pakistan Army – and the sooner the better it would be not only for this country but for the international community as well. Reports regarding a pay check of Rs30 lac for this act of terrorism by the Indian government should also be probed seriously and if there is truth in these reports, it is the duty of the Pakistani government not only to expose the collaboration but also to take up the issue with the UN so that they do not have easy sailing as far as this issue is concerned.

The government may also consider the proposal of the KP government to send back all Afghan refugees based in Pakistan so that some of the recruitment that is done in these camps for acts of terrorism can be halted. This proposal also requires urgent and serious consideration because Pakistan, instead of being recognised for doing this good turn for such a long time for Afghan refugees, has been made to suffer on this account. One hopes that the prime minister, instead of pursuing a policy of appeasement for Afghanistan, comes out straight and tells them firmly that Pakistan will not tolerate such crimes that originate from Afghan soil and could respond at its own time and place of choice.

According to a retired military friend, two to three helicopters with elite troops who have proper training and some local support is enough to pluck the masterminds from Afghanistan and bring them here to face justice. It was even easier for the Pakistani forces to go to the hideouts of the masterminds in Afghanistan and eliminate them physically. If this country continues to talk about international law and international repercussions there could be other incidents like APS Peshawar and Charsadda in this country.

One hopes that among the several contingency plans prepared by the Pakistan Army there is one that would allow them to go after the terrorists in Afghanistan, punish them or eliminate them. Even bring them back without waiting indefinitely for the Afghan government to respond. One is sure that if we are able to mount a successful operation against these terrorists we will receive accolades from the international community.

And for those who fear that the Indians will make this as a pretext and try to cross over into Pakistan, they must know that Pakistan has the capability and the capacity to destroy more than 70 targets in India in the first two to three minutes of any war. Therefore, the Indians will dare not try to copy the Pakistanis who have cogent reasons and tons of evidence with them to go after the terrorists in Afghanistan.