The year 2017 saw Pakistan’s continuing efforts for internal, regional and global peace through successfully combating the forces of terrorism and extremism. Operation Sherdil, Rah-e-Raast, Rah-e-Nijat, Khyber IV, Zarb-e-Azb, Radd-ul-Fasaad and many other efforts are not all but few examples of our commitment towards peace. Pakistan has remained a staunch ally of all forces working for world peace. This policy is in line with the vision of our Founding Father Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who envisioned Pakistan as a model state of peace and progress for the rest of the world. Our efforts in achieving this goal are unwavering under all circumstances. The world remains appreciative of Pakistan’s efforts towards peace. Pakistan and the United States have also worked very closely in achieving desired objective of a peaceful region. However, due to various reasons of expediency, strategic and operational flawed strategies, implicit and explicit role of spoilers, of late the U.S. policymakers seem more bent towards blame-game than prudently orchestrating the peaceful outcomes. The new U.S. National Security Strategy 2017 has been received largely as veering sharply away from the old priorities with a bellicose and threatening South and Central Asia policy cast in stark terms that may lead to a complex tapestry. After years of fighting the War on Terror Pakistan has been seemingly left on its own to confront the multiple challenges arising from cross-border terrorism from Afghanistan while India continues to take priceless lives along the Line of Control. The confutation is further proved by the fact that Pakistan Army has lost several of its brave officers and soldiers in terrorist attacks originating from Afghanistan and during anti-terrorist operations conducted with unassailable sincerity to rid the country of this menace.
This being said, it is time for U.S. and Afghanistan to do more for Pakistan. Peace in Afghanistan is conducive to yielding the dividends of peace in Pakistan and without a symbiotic relationship and cooperation from the Afghan side Pakistan will have to keep fighting terrorism emanating from the cross-border movement. Major General Asif Ghafoor, DG ISPR, in a recent press conference mentioned that “Our Armed Forces are contributing to regional and world peace in cooperation with our friends and allies. We wish to continue this cooperative engagement which remains the way forward; not coercion. There shall be no compromise on self respect.”
The scenario we are faced with as we enter 2018 encompasses many challenges; however, with collective efforts of the government, our security forces and the nation, these challenges can be converted into opportunities. The internal security challenges have been countered significantly in the last few years as from 2013 to 2017, terrorism incidents have significantly reduced. The previous operations including Operation Zarb-e-Azb and the ongoing Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad tackled terrorism in the physical domain. It also largely helped in curtailing connectivity between the terrorist abettors and facilitators inside Afghanistan. However, the situation warrants changes in the current approach of the U.S.; it must probe the anti-Pakistan Indian role, not only through Afghan territory but also along the Line of Control.
Towards the end of 2017, another significant development was Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s briefing to the Senate Committee on national security and the recent developments at the regional and global level. COAS ensured full support to government in enforcing law and order and providing support to development projects in the country. The emphasis remains on the resolve to continue our struggle against the menace of violent extremism through a synergetic and focused effort in which entire nation is involved, based on the principle of collective potential and shared responsibility.
As Quaid-i-Azam stated on January 23, 1948, “The weak and the defenseless in this imperfect world invite aggression from others. The best way in which we can serve the cause of peace is by removing the temptation from the minds of those who think we are weak and therefore have no honor. That temptation can only be removed if we make ourselves so strong that nobody dare disregard our national integrity. Every one of us has an important role to play in guarding national interests and your watchwords should be faith, discipline and self-sacrifice.”
Pakistan has time and again proved to be a resilient nation with a strong, committed and dedicated Armed Forces and no one else is entitled to disregard our efforts by their own maxims. In 2018 also, Pakistan will leave no stone unturned for internal and external peace. Opportunity exists for not letting the divisive elements to dominate discourse and give way to understanding by mending the rifts. The New Year comes as an opportunity to see an end to fanaticism, extremism and the killing of innocent humans and to transform the region and world into a peaceful global society.