The question of militancy & extremism
29 November, 2007
By Muhammad Munir
Today Pakistan is passing through a critical stage of transformation where both opportunities and challenges exit for its security. Fundamental variables of internal security threats to Pakistan include ethnicity, sectarianism and economic instability. Religious extremism has created an unenviable image of Pakistan in the eyes of the rest of the world and has affected the country adversely. At the same time inter-provincial grievances could potentially cause serious damage to the federation. Despite recent economic recovery and sound macro policies, the absence of genuine socio- economic development has provided ethno-sectarian elements and regional forces grounds to exploit and weaken Pakistan internally.
The biggest challenge to its security comes from extremism and terrorism at home. This threat is most likely to remain there for the foreseeable future. Although present government has achieved remarkable successes in its campaign against religious extremists, sectarian terrorists and terrorists associated with Al Qaeda, the extremist forces have only been contained and not eliminated. They still maintain potential to put the country afire by resorting to target killing, bomb blasts and suicide bombings. More than 700 terrorists have been rounded up and handed over to the United States for investigation. The campaign launched by the government has destroyed the control, command and communication system of terrorist networks.
In fight against terrorism, the law enforcement agencies have focused on eliminating the financer and executioner dimension of the terrorist organizations. The security forces are now pursuing the planner elements, which have now become fugitives and taken shelter in the remote and inaccessible parts of the country. In order to restrict the movements of and coordination among the terrorists, the government has accelerated the provision of Computerized National Identity Cards (CNID), introduced Machine Readable Passports (MRP) and strict checks at immigration counters. It because of these strong measures taken by the government that incidence of sectarian violence has considerably decreased in the country, although it has not been totally eliminated
The world has faced threats to security as a result of military action, politics and diplomacy. But in the modern age there are also non-traditional threats to the survival and development of a sovereign state, and even mankind, to consider. These non-traditional threats come in the form of terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, serious communicable diseases, piracy, illegal immigration, environmental security, economic and financial security, and information security. Non-traditional and traditional threats are, of course, linked in many ways. Many non-traditional threats to security are given rise to directly by traditional security affairs. Non-traditional and traditional threats are, of course, linked in many ways. Many non-traditional threats to security are given rise to directly by traditional security affairs. For instance, refugee crises and environmental destruction are direct products of war. Non-traditional security threats can in turn trigger conflicts classed as traditional security threats.
In simple words security can be defined as “the quality or state of being secure,” “freedom from danger,” or “freedom from fear or anxiety.” Lasso and Gonzalez state that “the entirety of conditions — political, economic, military, social, and cultural — necessary to guarantee the sovereignty, independence, and promotion of national interest...” defines security. The national security encompasses not only internal and external threats but also take into account threats emanating from economic insecurity and inequalities. The traditional concepts of security are being replaced by new concept of comprehensive security focusing on human security.
History has shown military power cannot create peace, and politics cannot ensure security. To forge an entirely new security concept is the only workable answer to the increasing incidence of non-traditional threats to security. There is a need to promote multilateral dialogue and co-operation to counter adverse situations. A better understanding needs to be developed about the nature of religious extremism and how it impacts on stability and state security. In addition, more attention needs to be focused on use of military and on the often-undermining impact that counter-terrorism measures undertaken by states have on human rights. In Pakistan, the threat of transnational terrorism is a reality but at the same time misconceived counter-terrorism measures can instead result in fuelling terrorism and providing justification for the involvement of those associated with transnational terrorism.
During recent years the destabilization in Pakistan was caused by the events in Balochistan and FATA. It remained a matter of concern in the context of new challenges to internal security. Deposite the fact that over the last more than four years, hundreds of foreign militants and their local accomplices have been killed or apprehended, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have not been totally cleared of the miscreants.
Miranshah Accord was a great step for pacifying the situation in FATA. The militants and the Government have signed this accord to restore peace and order in North Waziristan Agency. Under the agreement negotiated by the Grand Tribal Jirga, the militants will not give shelter foreigners and launch cross-border raids while the Government will stop military operations, remove checkpoints and pay compensation for the loss of life and property. There is no doubt that dialogue is the best way to sort out differences and resolve issues.
The second source of Trouble is the ongoing situation after the demise of Nawab Akbar Bugti. There is a need to resolve this issue through dialogue. If required Government can compromise on tactical level, however, it cannot make strategic compromise especially on national interests. The province of Balochistan has always been strategically important due to its common borders with Afghanistan and Iran, and geographical contiguity with the Persian Gulf and a long coastline of the Arabian Sea. Balochistan also carries great economic importance for the national economy as the province has vast reserves of precious and strategically important minerals. In addition to it, bulk of natural gas is supplied to the rest of the country from this province. But it has assumed added strategic and economic importance in the context of government’s plans for massive development through mega projects, construction of deep-sea port at Gawader as an outlet for goods from the Central Asian Republics (CARs) and China to the countries of the Gulf and Middle East and other countries of the Indian Ocean area, the proposed construction of Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline. Pakistan needs to address these national security threats and find a viable solution in a reasonable timeframe to find its rightful place in the community of modern nations. The immediate requirement is to introduce political, economic and education reforms to meet the challenge of militancy and extremism.