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‘Ensure no safe haven for terrorists in Pakistan’

Terrorists

Islamabad: It is not enough to demand outside action against terror sanctuaries that are beyond Pakistan`s borders, said a leading daily which called for a sustained effort to ensure that “no stripe of militant or terrorist can find aid or safe haven within”.

An editorial “Suicide attack in Mardan” in the Dawn on Wednesday said that a year in which significant progress has been made in the fight against militancy is nearing its end with a grim reminder that the war is far from over – and is far from being conclusively won.

The suicide attack in Mardan on Tuesday has claimed over 20 lives and injured some 60 people.

The daily said that the casualties should not become yet more forgotten victims in the fight to save Pakistan.

“For the state and those whose responsibility it is to keep the country safe, there are some urgent reminders about what is at stake here. Taking the fight to the militants in Fata and ramping up counterterrorism efforts in the major cities through so-called intelligence-based operations was going to leave second-tier targets more vulnerable: smaller cities, soft targets – areas the security and intelligence apparatus may not have prioritised.

“Therein lies the next great challenge for the state – developing counterterrorism capabilities that are adequate to deal with the evolving terrorist threat.”

The daily noted that developing counterterrorism capabilities appears to be the one area that the state – both the military and civilian sides of it – does not consider a priority.

“While the military leadership does seemingly agitate the issue, there is a basic problem: the perception that the military wants to dominate and lead the effort rather than help the civilian side of the state develop its capabilities and leadership role,” it said.

But the political government must shoulder a great deal of the blame too. “There is a complacency and inertia discernible that is simply unacceptable.”

It went on to say that “police reforms remain a distant dream; centre-province coordination is mired in politics; and there is a distinct lack of interest in the scientific method when it comes to assembling the tools and personnel to fight terrorism”.

The editorial noted a “wider problem: the incubators of hate and extremism where terrorists and militants continue to find sanctuary. The trail of most terrorist incidents like in Mardan usually leads to financiers, aiders and abettors and sanctuaries that run into a very long, though familiar chain”.

“It is not enough to demand outside action against sanctuaries that are beyond Pakistan`s borders – there must be a sustained effort to ensure that no stripe of militant or terrorist can find aid or safe haven within,” it added.

IANS