16
September

Written By: Muhammad Amir Rana

Many nations are confronted with the challenge of violent and non-violent extremism, although with a varying degree, they have developed strategies to deal with it. Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) has become a popular term, which is regarded as a soft approach to countering terrorism. Many Western countries have evolved certain CVE programmes in their local perspectives. Different states use different strategies in their CVE programmes which range from engagement to winning hearts and minds of the people. But the main objective of most of these strategies is related to neutralizing the security threats. These programmes, largely focusing on Muslim immigrant communities, largely seek to improve inter-communal harmony and cohesion.

Many of the CVE programmes also focus on the countries of origin of immigrant communities with an assumption that fixing extremism in immigrants’ native lands will help prevent extremism in host societies. Western nations try to export their CVE models to Muslim countries and think these will be effective in Muslim majority countries as well. That is despite the fact that Western CVE programmes, which are regarded by many as having a narrow scope and context-specific attributes, have not yet achieved substantial successes and are in an experimental phase. There is no doubt that nations learn from each other’s experiences and practices but exporting unsuccessful models to other nations could prove counterproductive. Here is a review of major CVE programmes in practice in different Western countries. It may help understand different approaches. Muslim countries including Pakistan may find some useful elements in these programmes, which are suitable or adaptable to their contexts, and adopt them rather than implementing a Western model as it is. The UK’s Prevent Strategy

The UK is pioneer in crafting a CVE framework known as the Prevent Strategy. It was conceived in 2007 after 7/7 terrorist attacks to respond to the threat of terrorism and extremism. According to the information provided on the British Home Office webpage, “The strategy covers all forms of terrorism, including far-right extremism and some aspects of non-violent extremism.” Under the Prevent Strategy, the UK government has taken many initiatives ranging from community and youth engagement programmes to the ones focussed on vulnerable segments of the Muslim youth. The Channel and Think Projects are two major components of the Prevent Strategy. The Channel Project targets the individuals who are vulnerable to radicalization with a purpose to prevent them from becoming terrorists. The Think Project was designed to offer disengaged young people the opportunity to take part in a programme or workshops where the facts about race, religion, and migration are explored. These are community-focused programmes run by local authorities and controlled by a counter-terrorism centre in London. They also engage moderate religious scholars on national level to promote an environment which supports a moderate interpretation of Islamic precepts. The UK’s Prevent Strategy also contains an external component. It says: “we work closely with countries where those who support terrorism and promote extremism are most active. Our activity is concentrated on Pakistan, the Middle East and East Africa where radicalizing activity can have a direct impact on communities in the UK.”

The programme has achieved mixed results. Experts raised three major objections on the strategy. Some see it as a spying programme on Muslim communities, which they believe is counterproductive. Muslim communities also have concerns about it. Transparency is another major issue, and it is believed that local authorities misuse funds particularly for corrupting the local communities and building human intelligence networks. Lack of evidence of the success is also an issue. Many critics say this is not a community cohesion strategy as it focuses on ‘secularizing’ the Muslim communities. These initiatives, they argue, are stigmatizing Muslim communities thus creating problems for their daily life interactions with other communities. In recent years, vulnerabilities among other communities were also exposed after some new converts to Islam joined Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Others say such measures are creating rightwing nationalist tendencies in British youth, and the government is not paying attention to this side. The Prevent Strategy was conceived in a narrow security perspective, and its impact in terms of CVE is not measurable. The US

US Homeland Security department has three major components of their CVE policy, which are understood as: violent extremism, supporting local communities and local law enforcement. The focus of different CVE programmes in the US has been on making communities part of the solution through developing partnership with them, which allows division of labour between communities and law enforcement. Three pilot projects in three different cities of Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Boston focused parents and teachers and their collaboration with the law enforcement. The findings suggested the need for developing new strategies for challenging violent extremism through community mobilization, capacity building and targeted prevention and intervention activities to promote healthy communities. These programmes have also integrated mental health into their designs. The major issue in the US CVE programmes is linked to the social legitimacy among the communities, which remain in a state of denial thus making the trust building a major task. At the same time, unseen ideological and political spaces exist in the behaviours, which can trigger vulnerabilities. The US is still struggling to develop some comprehensive prevention strategies that go beyond the threat of terrorism. Denmark

Pakistan is also having influences of ongoing CVE practices in the world. Many states want to replicate such initiatives in the country. Government and civil society need to realize that Pakistan has very different context, where the extremist tendencies and trends are different from those in Western countries. A community focused CVE strategy cannot work in Pakistan, but there are lots of lessons to learn from Western strategies while evolving an indigenous plan for Pakistan.

Denmark has developed a three-layered CVE programme, which can be called Prevention Pyramid. First layer of this pyramid is called ‘general’, which focuses on early prevention through capacity building of youth. Second layer, described as ‘specific’ undertakes prevention through intervention and is aimed at vulnerable individuals and groups. Third layer is ‘targeted’ at re-socialization among individuals. Under this prevention strategy, different ministries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have evolved exit programmes. The police has initiated social services programmes with parents and teachers. Like other CVE programmes, the focus is on the Muslim communities without a thorough assessment of whether religion could be used as a curing element in these programmes or could prove counterproductive. These programmes stress on communities to think reasonably and do not evaluate political and ideological risks. The state thinks the communities should think like the majority and not link themselves with native cultures and countries. France

France is new in CVE modelling and is still struggling to evolve a prevent strategy. The major problem is the lack of integration of the Muslim communities into the society, which are largely concentrated in suburban areas. France had not taken the violent extremism seriously before the Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris as Muslims’ activism was driven by the Palestine-Israel issue and it had caused some serious terrorist attacks against the Jews in France. Experts believe that France’s participation in military campaigns in Libya and Northern Mali had triggered certain extremist tendencies and diversified the perspective. The CVE strategy is in its inception in France. This is different from strategies employed in other Western countries because of its focus on critical individuals and their rehabilitation. Rather than using counter-narratives and traditional counselling techniques, the French CVE strategy engages individuals in trust building process. It has three levels of engagement: first, identifying the vulnerable individuals and initiating trust building process; second, understanding individuals’ grievances, and religious and political views; and third, engaging them in the care process and deconstruct their views using media, art, theatre, and, other cultural expressions to build their confidence in life and surrounding. The challenge that French authorities are facing is linked to evolving the criteria of identification and categorization of vulnerable individuals. Though French authorities are optimistic about their strategy but it is still in the initial phase, and nothing concrete has been achieved so far. Belgium and Netherland have conceived their programmes in security perspective and appear largely inspired by the UK programme. There is agreement among experts that all these CVE strategies need to identify time frame, metrics, and indicators, drawing on other disciplines and allowing for flexibility. These initiatives can be made subjective through support from an empirical body of research and analysis. Pakistan is also having influences of ongoing CVE practices in the world. Many states want to replicate such initiatives in the country. Government and civil society need to realize that Pakistan has very different context, where the extremist tendencies and trends are different from those in Western countries. A community focused CVE strategy cannot work in Pakistan, but there are lots of lessons to learn from Western strategies while evolving an indigenous plan for Pakistan.

The writer is a security and political analyst and the Director of Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS). He has worked extensively on issues related to counter-terrorism, counter-extremism, internal and regional security, and politics. Twitter @AmirRana
16
September

Written By: Najmuddin A. Shaikh

I had originally intended writing this article to mark the first anniversary of the commencement of Zarb-e-Azb, note what had been accomplished and then go on to make suggestions on what else is needed to be done if the avowed intent of wiping out foreign and indigenous terrorists was to be achieved. This needed both action on the ground and a clear understanding by all centres of power in Pakistan that the flawed policies of the past, which had enabled terrorists and extremists of all hues and complexion to find shelter in Pakistan’s tribal areas and urban centres had to be abandoned. I decided, however, to postpone the effort to give myself more time to watch the unfolding of anticipated developments in our benighted country and in our region before finalising proposals for the future course of action. I believe, given the developments of the past few weeks that I was right to do so. First, however, let us look at what has been accomplished. Zarb-e-Azb, now 13 months old, involved grinding battles in inhospitable terrain and against well-trained and well-armed insurgents who had established their writ over large parts of our tribal areas, of evacuating civilians and then helping them to return to areas liberated from the clutches of the insurgents, of undertaking development work with whatever limited funds were available and most importantly convincing the local populace that there would be no let up in the operation and therefore no possibility of the insurgents returning to plague innocent civilians. In terms of regaining lost space the success has been enormous, marked most recently by the capture of all the peaks in the Shawal Valley and the designation of the clearance of the lower elevations in the valley as the Army’s next task.1 Heavy losses have been inflicted but a heavy cost has also been paid. In June the DG ISPR tweeted that 2763 terrorists had been killed. Tracking reports of further actions in the Shawal Valley and North Waziristan it would seem that the number by mid-July should have climbed close to 3000. In June the ISPR tweet said 347 officers and jawans had died in the operation. By mid July the figure would probably approach 400. As against the 1536 civilians who died in the first six months of 2013 and 786 in the comparable period in 2014 it has been calculated that only 500 civilians were killed in the same period in 2015.2 The success achieved so far and the reduction in terrorist related civilian casualties notwithstanding it is clear that the task in the Tribal Areas or in the urban centres is far from over. General Raheel Sharif has said that the operation will continue to its logical conclusion3 and ISPR while lauding the success achieved so far has refused to give a date by which the Shawal Valley, the last refuge of the insurgents will be cleared nor is there any date certain by which the IDPs will return to their homes. Let us be clear. Kinetic activity will continue but it will take time to complete the safe and secure return of the IDPs to their homes with safeguards to ensure that they would be sufficiently well equipped physically and politically to prevent the return to these areas of extremist elements will also take time. The guarantees we are seeking from tribal leaders towards this end will take time to negotiate but may be more easily obtained once the decision is taken to give FATA inhabitants the same rights and obligations that all Pakistanis have and do away with the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCRs). As in other facets of the battle we are contending with the accumulation of more than 35 years of benign neglect or more likely misguided policies and time will be needed to find the appropriate solutions and to build the trust that will permit the implementation of these solutions. As regards the urban areas, the Supreme Court Justice Jawad S. Khawaja may have been overly harsh in his remarks but it does seem that far too little has been done to implement the 20 point National Action Plan which required all of government effort.4 This may flow in part from the lack of political leadership but it is also largely reflective of the deterioration if not collapse of governance that has been the inevitable outcome of the politicizing of the civil services and the other tools of governance. Rebuilding the institutions of state will take both selfless political will and a move away from the corruption and venality, which have become part of our national polity. Perhaps if we start now we will see results in time to come but it will be a long and difficult struggle.

Let us be clear. Kinetic activity will continue but it will take time to complete the safe and secure return of the IDPs to their homes with safeguards to ensure that they would be sufficiently well equipped physically and politically to prevent the return to these areas of extremist elements will also take time. The guarantees we are seeking from tribal leaders towards this end will take time to negotiate but may be more easily obtained once the decision is taken to give FATA inhabitants the same rights and obligations that all Pakistanis have and do away with the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCRs). As in other facets of the battle we are contending with the accumulation of more than 35 years of benign neglect or more likely misguided policies and time will be needed to find the appropriate solutions and to build the trust that will permit the implementation of these solutions.

We have often taken credit for being a resilient nation managing to endure and to survive the hardships of electricity outages, water shortages and the corruption and ineptitude of officials manning our institutions. Perhaps given the right leadership, we will move towards a tax to GDP ratio comparable at least to other countries of South Asia, towards better family planning, towards higher and more focused expenditure on health, education and towards providing the other basic amenities on which depends the conversion of our youth bulge into an asset rather than the time bomb it appears to be today. Perhaps we can continue to prove our resilience as the task of repairing our institutions proceeds. We must recognize however, that there are short-term dangers that we have to tackle on an emergency basis if we are to keep alive the goal of becoming what we were intended to be a moderate tolerant country which would provide its citizens with equal rights and the opportunity to realize their full economic potential. These pertain ostensibly to our external relations but at least one of them has a direct and almost decisive bearing on our internal war while the other, in the view of some, has at least some influence on our internal situation. The meeting in Ufa between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan and the joint statement issued thereafter,5 calling for a meeting between the National Security Advisers of the two countries does not necessarily reflect a willingness to resume the interrupted dialogue between the two countries but it does seem to signal a lowering of tensions. Problems with India will remain. Suspicions of Indian interference in Balochistan and elsewhere in Pakistan will remain just as India will continue to ask for pursuing the trial and punishment of the alleged perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai carnage case and will continue to suggest that infiltration into Occupied Kashmir is officially sponsored. There is, however, every possibility that when the two advisers meet there will be a tacit agreement that people living in glass houses should not throw stones and thereafter on a resumption of the dialogue. What is significant is that there has apparently been an agreement that on Kashmir the back channel will be resurrected6 to carry forward the discussions one assumes from where the two sides had left off. We may remain a long way from the normalization which is desirable but there need be no fear of an escalation of tension in the immediate future even though the news on 15th July was that there had been unprovoked firing on the Working Boundary7 and an Indian drone had been shot down when it violated Pakistan airspace along the LOC.8 The real problem is our other neighbour – Afghanistan. Here let us take the good news first. Thanks to some assiduous behind-the-scenes work by Pakistani officials and perhaps some help from others, an Afghan Government delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai and including representatives from the offices of President Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah met with a Taliban delegation which had been sanctioned according to Hekmat Karzai by Akhtar Mansoor, the deputy to Mullah Omar and which included a high representative of the Haqqani Network.9 The Afghan delegation in a briefing to the Afghan media identified the key Taliban participants as Mullah Yahya, a member of Haqqani network, Latif Mansoor from alleged Taliban's Quetta Shura and Abbas Akhund, representing Taliban's Qatar group.10 Subsequent statements in Pakistan, however, made it clear that in the Murree meeting there was no one from the Qatar negotiating team but their presence could be expected in the future.11 It is almost certain that the next meeting perhaps in China or another venue will be convened shortly, particularly now that Mullah Omar, in his written Eid message published on a Taliban website on July 15, has endorsed the talks even while maintaining that the fighting will continue and that the Taliban objective remains the removal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.12 It is known that there are divisions within the Taliban ranks exacerbated by the fact that Mullah Omar has not been seen or heard from in person for the last many years. It is not certain that the publication of his biography a few weeks earlier to establish that he is alive and well and in command has served to quell the present misgivings among Taliban ranks. Akhtar Mansoor is the deputy to Mullah Omar but the military command seems to rest with Qayum Zakir who has been opposed to the talks and who seems to enjoy some measure of support from the field commanders. It is too early to say that Mullah Omar’s message will bridge these differences but it seems clear that as outside parties pursue the path of talks with renewed vigour, for reasons I will explain below, these dissenting voices must be brought under pressure, both political and physical.

My own feeling is that if there is no reconciliation, President Obama may have no choice but to extend the stay of his forces in Afghanistan and leave to his successor the decision on the pace of withdrawal. This is a good reason for those who want the withdrawal of all foreign forces to hasten the process of reconciliation.

If these talks do yield the positive results that can bring peace to Afghanistan there is every possibility that the parlous situation in which Afghanistan finds itself can slowly be fixed and Afghanistan can be set on the path of becoming what it wants to be – a country at peace with itself and with its neighbours, able to develop its vast mineral deposits and the transit country that can be the bridge between Central and South Asia. Most importantly it will then be able to tackle with the assistance of its neighbours the new threat of the ISIS that has emerged in the region and that may become centred in the northern provinces of Afghanistan. Let me now explain what I mean about the parlous situation in Afghanistan. President Ghani overtures to Pakistan are bearing fruit but this has not silenced his critics. The Afghan media’s tone has changed somewhat but incendiary false reports continue appearing alleging that Pakistan is supporting the enemies of the Ghani administration and Afghanistan. The following press reports are illustrative. A report entitled “Afghan forces on alert amid reports Pakistani helicopters helping Taliban” by Khaama Press July 6, 2015 said “The Afghan national security forces were put on alert amid reports Pakistani helicopters are helping the Taliban militants by supplying weapons in eastern Paktia province”. (Before the Muree meeting). Pakistan's ISI and Military Supporting Insurgents in Paktia: Officials, TOLO July 15, 2015 says, “Security officials on Wednesday said that Pakistan's spy agency and military troops are directly supporting insurgents through airstrikes and ground clashes in the eastern Paktia province”. Clearly there are elements in Afghanistan who aim at destroying the newfound rapprochement between the two countries. President Ghani’s predecessor President Karzai – who first talked about Pakistan and Afghanistan as “Conjoined Twins” – has apparently become a lead figure in the effort to discredit the National Unity Government (NUG) and its agreements with Pakistan. On July 14, according to Afghan media reports Ghani met with Karzai and apparently cleared the air with regard to the intelligence sharing agreement that has been negotiated between Afghanistan’s intelligence directorate and Pakistan’s ISI but that is far from certain. It was pressure from such quarters that had forced Ghani to write a letter to Pakistani authorities demanding actions against the Taliban that could have proved counterproductive to the main effort of getting the Taliban to the negotiating table. In other words, unless reconciliation efforts start bearing fruit in quick time there are spoilers within Afghanistan’s political establishment that would seek to sabotage the Pak-Afghan relations, which is an essential if not indispensable element in the process. The weakness of the NUG’s political position is evident from the fact that Ghani’s candidate for Defence Minister Masoum Stanekzai has been rejected by the Wolesi Jirga. This is the second nomination for Defence Minister that the Wolesi Jirga has turned down – in effect cocking a snook at the NUG. On the battlefront the Taliban have made worrying gains. In Ghazni, Wardak, Nuristan, Paktia and Faryab provinces many districts are under threat while the major battles are occurring around Kunduz, Badakhshan, Helmand and Oruzgan provinces.13 Nearly a million Afghans have been driven from their homes in these conflict ridden provinces to other parts of the country and, in a change from the past, 40% of the displaced persons are in what was hitherto the peaceful northern part of the country.14 Aid for the displaced is scanty. The UN has received less than 1/3rd of the $405 million it requested to help the Afghan IDPs.15 If even this assistance becomes unavailable Afghanistan’s IDPs will be in an even more dire situation than they are now and will more easily fall prey to the siren call of the extremists who appear to have substantial financial resources. Of course while this situation subsists there is no question of Afghanistan being able to arrange the voluntary repatriation of the 5 million Afghans in Pakistan and the 2 million Afghans in Iran. While I have not seen reliable figures from any source on the economic situation in Afghanistan, the World Bank overview for 2014 points out that “the Economic growth is estimated to have fallen further to 2 percent in 2014 from 3.7 percent in 2013 and an average of 9 percent during 2003-12” and that ‘Domestic revenues fell from a peak of 11.6 percent of GDP in 2011 to 8.4 percent in 2014”.16 The first half of 2015 with its added expenditure on security and declining economic activity could only have been worse. President Ghani has done a great deal to tackle the evil of corruption throwing out many officials from customs and ousting incompetent and corrupt governors but he has not been able to appoint new people and the administration therefore remains less than ideal. One can safely conclude that in the present circumstances Afghanistan will have to be heavily dependent on foreign assistance for the foreseeable future perhaps even beyond the 2024 deadline that had been originally proposed to donors at the Tokyo and Brussels conferences. Such dependence on foreign assistance will of course make the Afghan government whatever its complexion more susceptible to foreign pressures. On the military front there is no doubt that while the ANA (Afghan National Army) is performing better than many had expected, it is under almost unbearable pressure. Attrition remains high and its need for logistic and air support in combat operations is such that President Obama reluctantly has conceded the demand of his local commanders to allow the limited foreign forces in Afghanistan to provide such support and has promised not to withdraw any of them in 2015. There is a growing lobby in Washington which is arguing that the 2016 deadline date set by Obama for the withdrawal of all forces from Afghanistan must be revised to allow the withdrawal schedule to be determined by the ground situation. Gen. Dunford the former Commander of ISAF forces in Afghanistan (ISAF/NATO) and now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in testifying before the Senate for his confirmation hearings said in answering a question on this deadline that “I can assure you if I’m confirmed I’ll provide advice to the President that will allow us to meet our current end-state goal and that’ll be based on conditions on the ground.”17 My own feeling is that if there is no reconciliation, President Obama may have no choice but to extend the stay of his forces in Afghanistan and leave to his successor the decision on the pace of withdrawal. This is a good reason for those who want the withdrawal of all foreign forces to hasten the process of reconciliation. There are of course many other facets of the situation in Afghanistan which merit attention (bad loans of banks, failure to hold elections or reform the election commission, rearming of local militias to fight the Taliban, the alliance between Atta Noor Mohammad and Gen. Dostum to fight the Taliban, Hekmatyar’s sudden decision to support the ISIS and subsequent contradiction but not by Hikmatyar himself etc.) and have a bearing on reconciliation but shortage of space does not permit the luxury of commenting on them all. Let me therefore come to, what to my mind is, the most important reason for hastening the process of reconciliation – the emergence of the ISIS in Afghanistan and the nexus between the ISIS adherents currently in Afghanistan and those from the TTP and other extremist organizations in Pakistan who have espoused the same cause. There is very little doubt in the minds of most observers that the success that ISIS has had in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province on the border with Pakistan’s tribal areas and in the northern Provinces of Nuristan, Faryab, Kunduz are owed largely to the exodus of the TTP members, the IMU adherents, the Chechens, the Tajiks and even the Uighurs who have fled from North Waziristan as the Pakistani forces made it impossible for these terrorist elements to survive in Pakistan’s tribal areas. As their other source of funding decreased (Al-Qaeda, smuggling, drug trafficking, criminal activity) they found it easy to justify to themselves a shift to the ISIS which in many ways with its dream of a Khorasan province of the Islamic Caliphate of Abu Bakr Baghdadi reflected their self proclaimed objective of having no borders between the Ummah and of destroying all non Muslim forces in the world. For many, if not all of them war has become a way of life. ISIS provides funds and an opportunity to continue with war while allowing for a hypocritical claim of fighting for an Islamic cause. The Afghan Ambassador told the UN Security Council that 7000 foreign insurgents had moved into Afghanistan’s northern provinces.18 Striking an even more alarming note, Hudoberdi Holiqnazarov, Director of Tajikistan's Centre for Strategic Studies said that “at the beginning of 2014 there were 800 Taliban militants in the Afghan northern provinces, but now the armed men have reached 8,000," and that "The IS allocated 700 million U.S. dollars to create its arm in Afghanistan. These negative factors could change the situation in Tajikistan and Central Asia."19 The figure Mr. Holiqinazarov has mentioned in terms of financing provided by ISIS from its strongholds in Syria and Iraq may be exaggerated but there is no doubt that ISIS is far richer than Al-Qaeda ever was and that its move into our region started as early as September last year when the first pamphlets appeared in Peshawar, when six TTP members pledged allegiance to ISIS and then in January ISIS declared the Afghanistan-Pakistan region as part of its Khorasan province.20 For the Central Asian States developments in Afghanistan’s northern provinces are for reasons of proximity and kinship of considerable interest and concern. That concern extends also to Central Asia’s other neighbours. It is my conjecture that during his meeting with President Putin on the margins of the SCO moot in Ufa, Prime Minister Sharif was told that Russia apprehended ISIS infiltration from Afghanistan into Central Asia and thence into Russia’s own Muslim Republics and asked for Pakistan’s cooperation in combating this menace. Such cooperation he probably implied could well become one pillar of the new relationship Pakistan is seeking with Russia. There is no doubt at all that China must have been even more strident in pointing out to Sharif the dangers the growing ISIS presence in Afghanistan poses to China’s Xinjiang province and how the planned CPEC could be jeopardized by an ISIS presence in Afghanistan’s provinces bordering Pakistan. He may have hinted at the danger of ISIS from a firm base in disturbed Afghanistan make fresh incursions into Pakistan not only in the border areas but in urban centres to where such organizations as the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba and other sectarian organizations would readily accept the false doctrines of the ISIS since they were in accord with their own objectives. There is perhaps some truth in the assertions of former President Karzai and his cohorts that Afghan circumstances are not conducive to an impactful ISIS presence in Afghanistan.21 The Taliban in Afghanistan, however, do not take the ISIS threat as lightly as does former President Karzai. In a written message to Abu Bakr Baghdadi the deputy head of the Taliban said "The Islamic Emirate (Taliban) does not consider the multiplicity of jihadi ranks beneficial either for jihad or for Muslims…Your decisions taken from a distance will result in (the IS) losing support of religious scholars, mujahedeen…and in order to defend its achievements the Islamic Emirate will be forced to react”.22 This is perhaps the reason why the Taliban division appears to be dangerous to their leaders – the commanders in the field may find the ISIS call alluring – but the Taliban must realize that in combating ISIS they have a convergence with the Ghani administration and with Pakistan. Our political leaders have so far made light of the ISIS threat but I would suggest that the threat is real and more proximate than we wish to acknowledge. This threat which is tearing the Taliban asunder within Afghanistan is much more serious in Pakistan given the organizations that have flourished in Pakistan and the sectarian killings that continue to plague Pakistan’s polity particularly the targeting of the Hazaras in Balochistan. It would be naïve for us in Pakistan to deny ISIS’s ability to recruit followers in Pakistan. ISIS is a clear and present danger. Allowing them to gain a firm foothold in Afghanistan is to invite a similar but larger foothold in Pakistan. Pakistan’s security establishment at least appears to be aware of the dangers that ISIS poses. Thanks, I believe, to the enhanced security cooperation after fresh Pak-Afghan rapprochement, enough information has been shared between the Afghans, Pakistanis and the Americans to allow drone attacks to take out ISIS operatives in Nangarhar Province. The deaths of Shahidullah Shahid previously TTP spokesperson and then ISIS spokesman, Gul Zaman23 reportedly deputy head of the Khorasan branch of the ISIS and most importantly of Hafiz Saeed, the reported head of the Khorasan branch. An ISIS site has released an audio tape by Hafiz Saeed and claimed that he is alive but the tape is undated and my own belief is that although he has in the past been incorrectly reported as killed this time the report is correct since the Afghan official claimed that the body was retrieved and identified before the claim of his death was made.24 What then are the recommendations that flow from this identification of the new and perhaps more ominous danger that the situation in Afghanistan can create for Pakistan? Largely they are self-evident. First we must use as we have done already in some measure whatever influence and other tools we have to persuade the Taliban to stay on the course of negotiating a political settlement with the Ghani administration which has already made it clear that everything is on the table except some elements of the Afghan constitution to which the Taliban do not, in any case, have any serious objection. Second build further bridges with the Ghani administration and offer whatever intelligence or other assistance the Afghans can accept to help them combat the ISIS threat in the Northern Provinces. Participate if possible in any initiatives that the Central Asian States, Russia and China wish to take in this respect. Third even if other elements of the National Action Plan remain moribund, the crackdown on sectarian organizations must be speeded up not only to protect our minorities but also to deny the ISIS the recruits that it would find in these organizations. Fourth do what we can to persuade the international community to maintain its economic and military assistance levels commensurate with Afghanistan’s current needs and to help the Ghani administration to implement the reforms needed to maintain political stability, election reforms and financing for new parliamentary elections and those needed to attract the foreign investment needed to exploit Afghanistan’s mineral resources.
The writer is a former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan and contributes regularly for print and electronic media. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

1 Washington Post, Pakistani military says it achieved major victory in mountain assault, July 4, 2015
2 Washington Post, One year after it went to war, Pakistan is safer but doubts persist, June 15, 2015
3 Washington Post, Pakistani military says it achieved major victory in mountain assault, July 4, 2015
4 Express Tribune, Implementing the NAP, (Editorial) July 6, 2015
5 Dawn, Indian PM Modi accepts invite for first Pakistan visit, Joint Statement, July 10, 2015
6 Express Tribune, Kashmir issue to be tackled through back-channel diplomacy: Aziz, (originally published in the Times of India) July 15, 2015
7 Dawn, Indian troops resort to unprovoked firing along working boundary, July 15, 2015
8 Dawn, Pakistan military shoots down Indian 'spy drone', July 15, 2015
9 Islamabad Talks Vital Step Towards Achieving Peace, Delegation Tolo. The full delegation was Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) political deputy; Haji Din Mohammad HPC member; Farhadullah another HPC member; Faizullah Zaki, the head of the First Vice President's Office; Asadullah Sadati, representing the Second Vice President's Office; Engr. Muhammad Asem, representative to the Chief Executive; and Mohammad Natiqi, representing the Second Deputy Chief Executive. July 9, 2015
10 Ibid
11 Express Tribune, Taliban had leadership’s nod for Muree process, says Aziz, July 14, 2015
12 New York Times, Message in Name of Taliban's Mullah Omar Favours Afghan Peace Process, July 15, 2015
13 New York Times, map of Taliban Insurgency, July 07, 2015
14 Washington Post, Afghans who once watched war from afar forced to flee as front lines shift, July 13, 2015
15 Ibid
16 World Bank Overview of Afghanistan, 2014
17 Los Angeles Times, Joint Chiefs nominee sails through confirmation hearing, July 10, 2015
18 'Unprecedented' Surge Of Militants Plagues Afghanistan, UN Told RFE, June 24, 2015
19 Xinhua, CSTO forces, Tajik reservists to jointly fight Taliban, IS militants, July 6
20 Diplomat, Islamic State and Jihadi Realignments in Khorasan, May 08, 2015
21 Ibid
22 Newsweek, Taliban Warns ISIS, Don’t Come to Afghanistan, June 16, 2015
23 Washington Post, Officials: Top Islamic State leader killed in Afghanistan strike, July 11, 2015
24 Ibid

16
September

Written By: Justice (Retd) Dr. Javed Iqbal

As a Muslim, the Quaid believed in non-sectarian Islam preached and practiced by the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He believed in the ideals of Meesaq-e-Madina, which was based on the concept of a pluralistic society.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb is the tipping point in Pakistan´s history. We are at cross-roads where our salvation lies in extending full support to the combined civil-military efforts to save Pakistan from internal and external enemies. We must rally around the Quaid´s ideals of Unity, Faith and Discipline. In-Sha-Allah our efforts will be crowned with success.

Hilal is highly indebted and offers special gratitude to Dr. Javed Iqbal, son of Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal, who wrote this exclusive article for Hilal. Dr Javed Iqbal is a renowned scholar and former Chief Justice of Lahore High Court. He completed his PhD from Cambridge in 1954 and later went to Lincoln’s Inn to become Barrister-at-Law.

Pakistan came into existence as an independent state on August 14 sixty-eight years ago. Our first Independence Day coincided with the 27th of Ramadan which is regarded as sacred by all Muslims. It was a gift of Almighty Allah who crowned with success the efforts of the Muslims of the sub-continent to achieve independence under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Pakistan is the realization of the dream of Allama Iqbal who declared in 1930 that such a state would mean security and peace for India resulting from an internal balance of power, and for Islam an opportunity to mobilize its law, its education, its culture, and to bring the Muslims of India into closer contact with its own original spirit and the spirit of modern times. The Muslims and Hindus were two separate nations by every ideological definition, and therefore Muslims should have an autonomous homeland in the Muslim majority areas of India for the safeguard of their political, cultural, and social rights. The differences between Hindus and Muslims were not confined to the struggle for political supremacy, but were also manifested in the clash of two social orders. Despite living together for more than a thousand years, they continued to develop different cultures and traditions. The Muslims refused to accept a political system that would reduce them to a permanent minority. Thus Pakistan was created by the struggle of the minorities to liberate themselves from the oppression of the majority.

Iqbal was a visionary while Jinnah was a man of action. Iqbal accomplished his task by handing over the torch to Quaid-i-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Quaid, during his struggle for the achievement of Pakistan, reiterated the main features of the proposed Islamic State, as enunciated by Iqbal. According to Iqbal the four dimensions of Islamic culture are: 1) Democracy; 2) Ijtihad; 3) Acquisition of Knowledge; and 4) Creativity. Quaid-i-Azam in his presidential address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947, declared: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state. The first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state.

One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering is bribery and corruption. We must put down this poison with an iron hand. Black-marketing is another curse. You have to tackle this monster, which is a colossal crime against society, in our distressed conditions, when we constantly face shortage of food and other essential commodities of life. A citizen who does black-marketing commits a greater crime than the biggest and most grievous of crimes. The next thing is the evil of nepotism and jobbery. I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any influence directly or indirectly brought to bear upon me. Whenever I will find that such a practice is in vogue or is continuing anywhere, low or high, I shall certainly not countenance it.”

As a Muslim, the Quaid believed in non-sectarian Islam preached and practiced by the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He believed in the ideals of Meesaq-e-Madina, which was based on the concept of a pluralistic society. However, after his demise in 1948, Pakistan rapidly found itself in an unpredictable environment and during the past almost seven decades we lost sight of all the ideals enunciated by the Quaid. Pakistan today is facing multiple problems and challenges caused mainly by intolerance, extremism, sectarianism, corruption, nepotism and terrorism.

To overcome this intolerable situation, the army launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb on June 15, 2014 to wipe out terrorism and extremism from Pakistan. Approximately so far 2,763 militants have been killed during this military offensive. The operation has reduced the incidents of terrorism and the overall security situation has greatly improved. Following the terrorist attack on the Army Public School Peshawar in December 2014 in which 145 people, including 132 school children were killed, an All Parties Conference chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reached consensus over a plan to tackle terrorism.

The National Action Plan was announced by the Government of Pakistan in January 2015 to resolve the issue of extremism and terrorism. It is a major coordinated effort by the Armed Forces and the civilian government which has received whole hearted support and cooperation across the country's political spectrum. It combines foreign and domestic policy initiatives aimed to crackdown and eventually eliminate proscribed organizations and terrorists across the country.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb is the tipping point in Pakistan´s history. We are at cross-roads where our salvation lies in extending full support to the combined civil-military efforts to save Pakistan from internal and external enemies. We must rally around the Quaid´s ideals of Unity, Faith and Discipline. In-Sha-Allah our efforts will be crowned with success. Pakistan Zindabad!

16
September

Written By: Brian Cloughley

On June 6-7, 2015 Prime Minister Modi of India visited Bangladesh and spoke gravely about terrorism. In a speech at Dhaka University he said appropriately that “terrorism is the enemy of humanity. All forces of humanity should unite and isolate extremism.” In a well-turned phrase he declared that “tourism unites the world, terrorism divides,” which was an eerie summation of the terrorist slaughter of 38 western tourists in Tunisia only eighteen days later. His rational sentiments might have attracted wider approval had he refrained from the sexist pronouncement that “I am happy that [the] Bangladesh Prime Minister, despite being a woman, has declared zero tolerance for terrorism.”

It is not clear what Mr. Modi intended to convey by his expression of happiness, although it is beyond belief that he could imagine most women actually tolerating terrorism. His hostess, however, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, appeared to accept his patronizing observation with the self-confidence for which she is so notable, and there were no reports that the students of the university objected, although there were many Twitter posts of reproach. Mr. Modi’s condescending sexism may be mildly amusing, but what he went on to say was far from positive or constructive. At a time and especially place in which he could have most effectively drawn the nations of the sub-continent together he chose to be confrontational. “Pakistan,” he said, “constantly disturbs us, and has created a nuisance... it promotes terrorism and incidents keep recurring.”

Certainly “incidents keep recurring” — but in June the only terrorist incidents in the subcontinent took place in Peshawar and North Waziristan where the Pakistan Army is combating extremists not only on behalf of the citizens of Pakistan but of the world as a whole. In the period January to June 2015, there was not a single incident of terrorism recorded in India while there were twelve in Pakistan. The main incident of organized anti-state violence in India was on 4 June when Naga militants ambushed an Indian Army convoy in Manipur state, killing 18 soldiers of 6 Dogra Regiment. Global Security notes that “Nagaland has its own distinct culture and ethos. Happy and cheerful, the people have an innate sense of music and colour.” But as observed by Kadayam Subramanian, a former Director General of Police in Northeast India, “The Naga insurgency arose out of Naga nationalism which focused on the sovereignty and territoriality of the Naga people. Naga nationalism was suppressed brutally by independent India. The long and painful saga of the Naga struggle for independence is well recorded... The Naga insurgency is the oldest and most powerful insurgency in India today.” The Manipur ambush prompted an Indian military operation outside its borders — a precedent that caused Pakistan and indeed the world at large to take note of a significant change of policy in Delhi.

It would have been more to the point if Mr. Modi had withdrawn his declaration that Pakistan promotes terrorism and agreed to immediately restart dialogue to discuss major — indeed vital — matters of bilateral security. Failing this, the Armed Forces of Pakistan have no option but to maintain a high degree of vigilance. They have to be prepared to counter and defeat “speedy multiple offensives deep into enemy territory.”

Some Naga militants are based in Myanmar and it was decided that they should be taken out. On 9 June, two days after Mr. Modi’s Bangladesh visit, his army’s special forces crossed the border into Myanmar and attacked two Naga camps, killing an unknown number of militants. Two days after the operation, the Defence Minister, the ever loquacious Manohar Parrikar, was reported by The Hindu newspaper as saying there had been a “change in mindset” in India and that “If the thinking pattern changes, lot of things change. You have seen for the last two-three days... those who fear India’s new posture have already started reacting... You have seen for the last two to three days, a simple action against insurgents has changed the mindset of the full security scenario in the country.”

His pronouncement was an unmistakable threat to Pakistan, in spite of coming from a defence minister whose credibility is crumbling even in Delhi’s ultra-nationalist BJP government — but there has been no attempt to deny or amend the thrust of his remarks. They remain official government declarations, along with Mr. Modi’s avowal that Pakistan “promotes terrorism.” On June 10, India’s Economic Times newspaper reported the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, as similarly explicit in “asserting that attacks on Indians are not acceptable anywhere. The Minister, a former colonel, said that based on effective intelligence, ‘we will carry out surgical strikes at the place and time of our own choosing’.”

The paper went on to note that Rathore “was asked whether such attacks could be carried out in the western border” to which he replied that “western disturbances will also be equally dealt with [and] the operations today [9 June] were a message to all such neighbours who harbour terror intentions. Friendship and zero tolerance will go hand in hand. This is a beginning. India is strong. This message should go to everyone.” It appears that the message had already gone to the Indian army, because reports of India’s annual springtime military exercises close to the border with Pakistan indicated emphasis in practicing tactics associated with deep penetration.

It should not be forgotten that after the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 26-29, 2008 there were open warnings of preparations to strike against Pakistan. On December 24, Air Marshal PK Barbora, commander Western Air Command, said, “the IAF has earmarked 5,000 targets in Pakistan. But whether we will cross the LoC or the International Border to hit the enemy targets will have to be decided by the political leadership of the country.” The Air Force was ready to go, as was the Army. Six months later Air Marshal Barbora was appointed Vice Chief of Air Staff, which sent the message that there was no official disapproval of his threat.

Later I wrote that on June 4, 2009 the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of India’s South-Western Air Command, Air Marshal KD Singh, declared that “in case of a misadventure by Pakistan in shape of major terrorist attack or the attack like the one we had on the Parliament, attack on our leader, a major city, public or hijacking an aircraft, can obviously lead to a reaction from India, which could be a short intense war.” Then on 1st November 2009 India’s Home Minister, Mr. Chidambaram, was reported as saying “I’ve been warning Pakistan not to play any more games. Let Mumbai be the last such game. If they carry out any more attacks on India, they will not only be defeated, but we will also retaliate with the force of a sledgehammer.” The threat from Delhi, which many observers had considered to have been negligible, given the apparent pragmatism of the government of Dr. Manmohan Singh, was spelled out in blunt and menacing terms.

In April-May 2015 India’s 2 Corps (Strike Corps) conducted Exercise Brahmashira (‘Ultimate Weapon’) in Rajasthan, 50 km from the border opposite Multan, involving some 20,000 troops practicing to “break through multiple obstacles in a restricted timeframe.” A spokesman stated that “the focus of the exercise is on new and efficient ways of fighting a war in a synergized battlefield” and Indian media reported that “the exercise has been conceptualized by the Kharga Corps under aegis of Western Command for rapid mobilization and speedy multiple offensives deep into enemy territory.” In other military manoeuvres in April, the army’s 10 Corps held Exercise Akraman-II (‘Attack’) — also in Rajasthan, near the border with Pakistan — involving “more than 300 combat vehicles, main battle tanks, long range artillery guns and about 10,000 troops.” Among other things it practiced “the capabilities of Indian Air Force in launching deep insertion of airborne and helicopter-borne army units.” HQ 10 Corps is at Bhatinda and two of its three divisions, 16 and 18, are headquartered, respectively, at Sri Ganganagar (20 km from the border) and Bikaner (60). “Speedy multiple offensives” and “deep insertion” are phrases that strike a warning chord with military planners facing an army of a million that is patently planning for offensive action — under the orders of a prime minister who states publicly that “Pakistan has created a nuisance . . . it promotes terrorism.”

There has been much analysis and discussion of Pakistan’s possible reaction to a thrust — a larger-scale and more ambitious Myanmar-style strike, for example — across the border or the Line of Control, and my conclusion is that any such action could on no account be accepted by Pakistan, which would have to react vigorously to protect its sovereignty.

On Mr. Modi’s website it is stated that “Dynamic, dedicated and determined, Narendra Modi arrives as a ray of hope in the lives of a billion Indians.” But it says nothing about any rays of hope concerning relations with India’s most important neighbour. Mr. Modi met with Mr. Nawaz Sharif on 10 July at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Russia. The handshakes were formal, the body language indicative of suspicion rather than cordiality — but at least they met and talked, and Mr. Modi agreed to come to Islamabad next year for the SAARC Summit.

India’s Hindu newspaper reported that they “made no commitment on restarting dialogue” but that they had “tasked Foreign Secretaries S Jaishankar and Aizaz Chowdhury with announcing a five-pronged statement of progress in their discussions, including meetings between National Security Advisers Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz and between military and border security force chiefs of the two nations.” It would have been more to the point if Mr. Modi had withdrawn his declaration that Pakistan promotes terrorism and agreed to immediately restart dialogue to discuss major — indeed vital — matters of bilateral security. Failing this, the Armed Forces of Pakistan have no option but to maintain a high degree of vigilance. They have to be prepared to counter and defeat “speedy multiple offensives deep into enemy territory.”

The writer is a France based retired officer of Australian Army and is an expert on South Asian affairs. He is also author of various books, and contributes extensively in international media. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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