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No organised militant camps existed on Pakistani soil: Qamar Bajwa

18 February, 2018

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MUNICH: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Saturday that no organised militant camps existed on Pakistani soil.The army chief stated this while addressing the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday. During his address, COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa threw light on Pakistan’s stance on the ongoing war against terrorism.

“Jihad can only be sanctioned by a state authority and nobody else. However, there is no denying the fact that the powerful concept of Jihad can be easily misused for propagating extremism and terrorism particularly as many Muslims in the world over are feeling not only as alienated but disowned and targeted and devoid of all positive expression. Same is true for the concept of Caliphate, which is more of a nostalgic response, rather than the actual possibility for most Muslims. Ladies and gentlemen, in Pakistan, the notion of Caliphate has not found any traction, but Jihad has definitely been used to radicalise a large tract of population. However, this phenomenon is not a recent creation that started after 9/11.

The Frankenstein was actually created by the liberal free world with a willing, but myopic cooperation from my side after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Therefore, we all are responsible for making the world population in general and the Muslim population in particular a hostage to this extremist ideology. Times have surely changed since the noon March 10, 1982, when President Ronald Reagan dedicated the launch of the space shuttle to the valiant Afghan Mujahedeen or Jihadis and termed their struggle against the Soviet occupation forces as a representation of man’s highest aspiration for freedom.”

“When I was young, Pakistan was a normal country as any other country of the world: Jacqueline Kennedy flew to Karachi; the Beatles visited us; Queen Elizabeth went to the Khyber Pass to chat with tribesmen; we were the favourite tourist destination for many; we were hosting world cups of hockey and cricket beside various multinational events. The World Bank termed Pakistan in 1963 as one of the most progressive and dynamic [countries] in Asia. The 70s were nothing less than a disaster for us, but even the separation of the eastern part of our country and the political upheaval thereafter did not change society as deeply as the events of 1979, the year the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution next door. Only then did we start learning that we are not only Muslim, but Sunni and Shias.”

“Pakistan defeated Al Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban and other outlawed militant groups, and we can proudly say that no organised militant camps exist on Pakistani soil.”

The army chief said that terrorists had sanctuaries in Afghanistan from where, through their facilitators, attacks were being coordinated against Pakistan.

He said that Pakistan was ready to cooperate for peace and stability in Afghanistan. However, he stressed the need for joint efforts by all the countries to eradicate the menace of terrorism.

COAS General Bajwa expressed concern over terrorists’ presence in Afghanistan. “Pakistan has undertaken fencing of its border with Afghanistan. Elimination of terrorism requires global cooperation. Territory of neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan should be used against each other,” he said.

The COAS said that Pakistan had been implementing the National Action Plan (NAP) in the war against terrorism. “Pakistan is not just conducting military offensives against terrorists. It has also taken action against their financiers,” he said.

General Bajwa said the menace of terrorism was fought through joint efforts by the entire nation, noting that clerics from all schools of thought had issued a decree against terrorism in the name of religion.

“The world needs to realise that trust, cooperation and trust among states is the key to fighting global terrorism as terrorists thrive on our division and feed upon our inability to come together against them,” he said.

“Trust co-operation and sharing will work and scapegoating won’t. It [terrorism] is a global problem and requires a global approach,” said General Bajwa.

General Bajwa called upon the world to counter terrorists’ narrative with an equally powerful narrative in order to defeat terrorists on all levels.

The army chief said the world was harvesting what had been sown 40 years ago. He called for repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan and better management of the Afghan border as a way forward to curb militancy.

The COAS said that Pakistan had denied the Islamic State militant group any foothold in the country.

“Our border with Afghanistan is very porous. We have unilaterally taken many steps to improve border management. We had increased surveillance and have now started fencing 2,300 kilometers of the border. We are putting scanners and biometrics at the border terminals to ensure that while common Afghans are facilitated, miscreants and terrorists are prevented or arrested,” said the COAS.

He added that Pakistan was fully committed to the international consensus that political reconciliation was the only solution to the Afghan conflict.

The army chief maintained that “despite the seeming frustration”, Pakistan had achieved more than other country in the war on terror as the country’s forces decimated Al-Qaeda and other terror outfits from the region.

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