NSC decisions

Editorial Board
Sunday, Apr 09, 2023

The war against terrorism is not just fought on the battlefield. It plays out daily on the streets as brave soldiers and police officers risk their lives to protect us in daylight and in the shadows as they try to break up terror cells. This war has taken its toll on the security and law-enforcement officials who have borne the brunt of the losses. The battle, unfortunately, is far from over. In Friday’s National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, the country’s security hierarchy agreed to launch an all-out operation to root out terrorism from the country. That this comes years after we had successfully managed to see somewhat of an end to terror should raise questions. Which is what the NSC too set out to do, with the council discussing the resurgence of the TTP and rightly reading it as a consequence of the previous Imran Khan led government’s ‘soft corner’ for the terrorist outfit and a ‘thoughtless policy’ towards it, which resulted in not just the terrorists returning to Pakistan but also the release of dangerous and hardened militants from jails as ‘confidence-building measures’. As a consequence, Pakistan’s peace and stability were damaged – something the country had achieved after immense sacrifice.

It is widely believed that ever since the fall of Kabul during the PTI’s tenure, the TTP has not just regrouped but has also been successful in carrying out large-scale attacks against Pakistan’s security forces. That these attacks have not just taken place in border areas but also in the more surveilled cities of the country is a disturbing indication of the potential of the TTP’s network across the country.

It is good to see that the NSC is acknowledging something officially about the previous regime’s soft corner for the TTP, something many experts had been pointing out from the day there were murmurs of deals with the TTP. We saw the way the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was received by the former prime minister. Over the past two years, we have also seen just how desperate locals are in areas where the TTP had previously camped at: almost daily protests in places like Swat showing how little welcome the TTP really is in these areas. One hopes this time the voices of the victims will not be drowned out by cynical calculations and terrible strategic policies. The TTP is back with full force and regularly targeting our security forces,adding to the country’s woes when the economy is in a meltdown while the political chaos increases with each passing day. Let the NSC and the government not forget though that in this fight against terror, we were supposed to root out not just extremist groups but the extremist mindset that has flourished in the country. Ultimate victory will come not just when militant groups are routed on the battlefield but when their poisonous ideology is eliminated. As long as politicians or governments are paying lip service to routing out terror while making tactical deals, this cannot be achieved. It is time to stop sending mixed signals, so that there is clarity in our own fight against terror. The NSC moot was the right start for that.