Pakistan must remove ambiguities about terror groups

Islamabad: Pakistan should remove all ambiguities and confusion regarding banned militant groups while making its national security policy, a security analyst has said.

In an opinion piece published by the Dawn, titled as “Mother of all Confusions”, Muhammad Amir Rana states that “The architects of our security policies have to come up with a comprehensive, workable mechanism to deal with the challenge.”

“One cannot ignore the role of parliament, which should have a frank debate on banned militant groups,” he added.

Rana said Pakistan has drawn criticism from the international community for not taking enough action against the terror-groups and banned outfits operating from its soil because the government has failed diplomatically to defend its case.

“International politics is the art of constructing narratives, which in turn cultivate public opinion. This requires diplomacy and opinion-making, yet the arguments embedded in a narrative are themselves the most important part. When a narrative loses appeal it simply requires a review. Harping on lost arguments creates only confusion and distraction,” he stated.

“Pakistan is annoyed at the international community’s repeated concerns about the alleged presence and status of non-state actors on its soil. Pakistan tries to convince the world by describing multiple anti-militant actions it has taken and the sacrifices it has rendered,” he added.

Referring to recent drone strikes carried out by the United States, which killed two Haqqani Network militants in northwestern Pakistan, Rana said, “However, a drone strike and a subsequent press conference, or public demonstration by the leaders of banned organisations and their other public activities, offset the impression.”

“The blame lies largely with the civilian governments that have failed to diplomatically defend Pakistan’s case,” he added.

He mentioned that just before the recent visit of the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions monitoring team, Hafiz Saeed had approached the Lahore High Court to prevent his arrest.

“He suspected that the government would put him under house arrest during the team’s visit. He got temporary relief from the court, but the media coverage of one of his news conferences resulted in his views being known abroad. Who now would believe that Pakistan recently took serious measures against banned groups?” he said.

“The UNSC monitoring team’s visit was part of its regular inspections but the Financial Action Task Force, an international body that combats money laundering and terror financing, shares concerns with many other international actors about the activities of banned groups in Pakistan,” he added.

Rana emphasised that banned militant groups in the country are persistently Pakistan’s diplomatic stress.

“It has been discussed at various high-level national forums that these groups have become a strategic burden for the country. And that they are also causing internal security problems. These groups provide recruitment bases to anti-Pakistan and global terrorist networks and also have an impact on relations within law-enforcement departments,” he stated.

He further mentioned that the counter-strategy by building a soft image through expanding their outreach in political spaces and avoiding confrontation with the government of banned militant groups has proved effective.

“Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal sees the workers of JuD and other conventional militant groups as ‘ex-militants’ who are engaged in welfare work. He has cautioned that if disturbed, they may join terrorist outfits. Interestingly, he was expressing these views after attending the graduation ceremony of the Counterterrorism Force at the Police Lines Headquarters in Islamabad,” he said.

“He also claimed that about 4,000 to 5,000 militants had quit militancy and were raising funds for welfare activities. It is not certain where he got these statistics from as the JuD claims it has more than 50,000 registered workers across the country,” he added.

Rana concluded by saying that for a coherent policy to deal with this, the government and military establishment will have to be on the same page. (ANI)