By Muhammad Shafique Raja
When Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government took over charge of the affairs in June, 2013, it was facing a host of problems, the most pressing among them were the twin evils of terrorism and extremism.
That was the time when extremism was widespread in the society and fear of militants was at the peak. What to speak of civilians, the terrorists in certain areas were freely targeting the security forces’ personnel, law enforcement agencies and government installations. The law and order situation was tougher in these areas and it had posed a serious challenge to the government.
On December 16, 2014, the deadliest terror attack in the country’s history took place when terrorists killed 132 little angles of Army Public School (APS), Peshawar besides gunning down 10 other people. Pakistan Army launched a rescue operation and killed all the seven terrorists.
A week after the APS nightmare, the government chalked out a wider plan to tackle the scourge of terrorism. Though Operation Zarb-e-Azb was already in progress against militant strongholds in North Waziristan Agency of tribal areas, the APS incident necessitated the government to give a new counter-terrorism policy. The then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on December 24, 2014 convened the All Parties Conference, which reached a consensus to set up military courts for tackling terrorism cases in the country effectively.
“We have to act fast and whatever is agreed we have to implement it immediately…this agreement is a defining moment for Pakistan and we will eliminate terrorists from this country,” the then Prime Minister stated while announcing his government’s plan to wipe out terrorism an extremism from the country. Nawaz Sharif on the same day, in a televised address to the nation announced the ‘National Action Plan’ (NAP) to tackle terrorism.
The two houses of Parliament on January 6, 2015 unanimously passed the “Constitution (Twenty-First Amendment) Act 2015″, which on the next day was signed into law by President Mamnoon Hussain. The Amendment provides a constitutional cover to the military courts, established for speedy trials of terrorists. The NAP received admiration throughout the country.
On February 22, this year the government decided to launch an all-out operation – ‘Operation Radd-ul-Fasad’ (RUF) as a continuation of the National Action Plan (NAP).
The RUF came at backdrop of a terrorism wave, especially the fatal terrorist attacks in Sehwan Sharif and Lahore, compelling the government for the launch of a countrywide security operation against militants and their havens.
Experts believe that by its very nature, RUF is going to a tougher and more complicated exercise as compared to previous operations because it brings the war against militants in the densely populated centers. Moreover, it is not specific to any area as it covers the entire country. Since its launch, this final showdown has been a great success.
Pakistan Army with the support of Pakistan Air Force, last month also launched massive operation (Khyber 4) under RUF against the terrorists, hiding in the most difficult hilly terrain of Rajgal Valley in Khyber Agency.
According to Director General Inter Services Public Relations (DGISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor the operation in Rajgal Valley, a part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), was in sequel to the ongoing Operation Radd ul Fasaad (RUF), meant to clear the small and big pockets where the terrorists of various banned outfits had been hiding.
The role of Pakistan Army in restoring writ of the state has been commendable as stated by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, “We are building peace in our country brick by brick; moving from relative stability towards an enduring peace.”
The facts reveals that since the launch of operation RUF, dozens of major operations and over 9,000 Intelligence Based Operations (IBOs) have been carried across the country. Around 1760 joint check posts have been erected with the help of police and other law enforcement agencies to keep vigil on the movement of terrorists in various parts of the country.
The law and order situation in Karachi has also improved with 98 % reduction in terrorist activities as compared to figures for 2013. During 2013 14 about 57 to 66 terrorist incidents were reported and in 2017 only one such incident took place, showing 98 % decline. In 2013 some 965 cases of target killing were reported and during the current year these were 28 with decline to 97 %. Cases of extortion during 2013 were 1524 and this year these are 56, showing a decline of 96 %.
Similarly, in 2013 the cases of kidnapping were 174 and this year these are six showing, showing a decline of 96%. Considerable decline has also been registered in cases of street crime and efforts at hand to check this trend effectively.
In Sindh, a total of 522 terrorists have voluntarily surrendered before the security forces. In Punjab, Punjab Rangers with the support of Counter Terrorism Department had carried out around six major operations, while about 7000 IBOs were undertaken. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, around 27 major operations and around 820 IBOs have been carried out.
The situation along the Line of Control (LOC) has shown extraordinary trends recently, following the hot political situation inside India. The Indian troops in line to defuse their own frustrations had been targeting the civil population along the LOC which ultimately caused a high number of causalities of the civil population, settled along the LOC.
Pakistan forces have been exercising restraint but whenever reacted it was in retaliation to the unprovoked firing whereby directly engaging the Indian posts from where the fire was being originated.
“We had already shared a few video footages of engaging the Indian forces’ posts with the media,” Major Gen. Asif Ghafoor told media recently.
As far as the situation within Afghanistan was concerned, he said that it was a well known fact that the security forces of brotherly and friendly nation were unable to tackle their internal situations. Therefore, he said, the Pakistan authorities had offered all types of assistance and support.
“The things are improving and we hope that these will further improve in the days to come,” he said.
Referring to the fencing of International border along Afghanistan, he said work on the most sensitive portion had already been started and first phase of it would be completed in the due course.
He said the entire border will be fenced and it would be kept under electronic and manual vigil permanently by constructing forts and posts after every 1.5 km distance.
If we look at the performance of the Military Courts it has been up to the mark. A total of 274 terrorists have been tried and of them 161 awarded death penalty. Out of the total, 53 executions had been carried out while 40 of them were undertaken during the on going operation RUF.
The PML-N government has to its credit the launch of the toughest operations against terrorists. Today as the war against terrorists and their facilitators is continuing vigorously across the country, people have more but genuine expectations that this will bring an end to terrorism and extremism once and for all. They hope that the government that started the fight against terrorism will be able to take it to its logical conclusion before it completes its five-year term, next year.