By Sajjad Shaukat
While anti-Pakistan foreign elements have accelerated their conspiracy against Pakistan to complete their hidden agenda by supporting subversive attacks inside the country through their affiliated militant groups, especially the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), but by showing unrealistic approach, Pakistan’s NGOs, human rights organisations and media started a deliberate campaign against country’s law-enforcing agencies, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Pak Army about the missing persons.
Without taking cognisance of the ground realties, these internal entities follow the blame game of Indo-Israeli lobbies which are well-penetrated in US-led European NGOs, human rights organisations and media which have been implicating Pak Army and ISI for extrajudicial killings and forced abductions which resulted in the disappeared persons.
While, fact of the matter is that majority of the missing persons have been killed in bomb blasts, target killings, ethnic and sectarian violence in various places of Pakistan, arranged by American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad and their supported militants outfits, particularly TTP. In case of Balochistan, everyone knows that Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and another group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have been fighting for secession of the province gets logistic support from CIA and RAW. Their militants kidnapped and killed many innocent people and the security personnel in the province, while claiming responsibility in this respect. And since 2001, a majority of Pakistanis also left for Afghanistan for Jehad purposes, without informing their families, while many people joined the Jahadi groups.
Besides, terrorist outfits pay huge amounts to their recruits to sustain their families. Families do not reveal when people join terrorist camps. Hence, there is a need to properly investigate reality behind the missing persons. However, exact number of the disappeared persons is also not known—some say that they are 14000, while others claim 18000 people.
It is a challenge for the whole nation that various terrorist organisations like TTP BLA, Jundollah, Lashkar-i-Janghvi, Lashkar-e-Islam, Sipah-i-Sahaba and some similar organisations feel pride in murdering the innocent people and killing the personnel of the security forces. These culprits are free to move inside the country.
On the one side, Pak Army is engaged in tribal areas in coping with the external-backed terrorists, on the other, due to the pre-information of the ISI, Pakistan’s law-enforcing and security agencies have thwarted many terror attempts of the insurgents through pre-arrests, discovery of weapons and huge explosive material, suicide jackets etc. For example, regarding recent terror-attacks of the TTP on the Central Prison in Dera Ismail Khan, ISI had provided information about the date and process of assault, but the concerned authorities did not take pre-cautious measures. Therefore, insurgents succeeded in freeing 200 prisoners, majority of whom was terrorists.
Despite the continued efforts of the security forces and intelligence outfits, terrorists keeps on targeting the installations of security agencies and police including government buildings through acts of sabotage. While fighting this different war, several personal of the Pak Army, ISI and police have sacrificed their lives for the integrity of the country.
But misperceptions of our own NGOs and media have projected the case of missing persons in a biased manner, with total disregard to ongoing war against terrorism. This creates an impression that Pakistan’s internal entities are not supporting the national cause to fight the terrorists. Instead, they are creating impediments in this respect, and so is the case of Judiciary. Resultantly, frightening thoughts and confusion have permeated into the ranks and files of law-enforcing and intelligence agencies thereby, negatively influencing their performance. Thus, investigations by these agencies and ISI are being hampered by media and internal entities.
No doubt, Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies and intelligence organisations which are well-prepared in coping with terrorism are engaged in identifying and locating the terrorist networks and their support-bases including informers and accomplices, but were discouraged as their actions were being challenged through courts of law regarding the validity and legality of their decisions. The insurgents’ lawyers availed the opportunity by indicating procedural penal flaws. Thus many terrorists were freed by the courts due to lack of solid evidence in legal terms, though reality of their subversive activities existed. Owing to this practice, efficiency of law-enforcing agencies drops to zero level, giving a greater setback to war against terrorism and making the concerned official insecure in face of judicial grilling.
Terrorist presently under custody, if released by the court because of judicial discourse will certainly join their main terrorist networks, thereby strengthening terrorist groups. Consequently, this ‘new style war’ will turn in favor of terrorists instead of law-enforcing and intelligence agencies which may suffer more in the hands of terrorists.
In this context, Pakistan’s media must recommend to the legislative and law-making authorities to change the complex procedures and evidence-related issues, and to make new laws against terrorists in order to provide the legal cover to law-enforcing and intelligence agencies which are fighting the menace of terrorism. For this purpose, the concerned agencies should be allowed to detain the certain suspected individuals so that the intensity and frequency of occurrence of terrorist activities could be reduced.
While fighting against the militants, Pakistan’s security forces and intelligence agencies require maintaining high degree of morale and confidence. In this context, our media and other entities should appreciate the sacrifices and services of country’s security forces and agencies in their fight against terrorism.
Another hurdle in war against terrorism is that by misconception of Islam, terrorist groups manipulate the feelings of innocent Muslims who are naturally prone to favor the cause of Muslims. Hence, they become targets of terrorists’ propaganda who project their unfair designs in the name of Jihad, and undertake criminal activities of terrorism, inflicting serious loss of innocent lives and damaging property. The militant outfits also recruit very young boys, and after their brainwashing through indoctrination, they train them for suicide bombings. The planners misguide these Muslims by convincing that they will have a noble place in the Heavens in exchange of suicide attacks.
In this regard, in the recent past, several Islamic scholars (Ulemas) have issued a joint fatwa (edict), and unanimously declared: “killing of innocent people, target killings and suicide bombings…in Karachi, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa along with sectarianism as against the spirit of Islam.” They added that those involved in the killing of innocent people are condemned to hell. Their Fatwa also declared, “The suicides attacks and related violence smeared the name of Islam and weakened Pakistan.
Nevertheless, our Ulemas must clarify that Islam considers killing one innocent person equal to murdering the entire humanity, while jihad is a sacred obligation, but its real spirit needs to be understood clearly, as targeting innocent women and children through subversive acts is not jihad. These Taliban and their banned-affiliated groups are defaming Islam which is the religion of peace, democracy, moderation and human rights.
Notably, terrorists have changed their tactics and have made nexus with criminal elements. They frequently indulge in criminal activities including kidnapping for ransom, looting, land grabbing, robbery, and collection of illegal taxes. Some of the missing persons have been abducted by the terrorist outfits to make money.
Now, people from all segment of life and majority of politicians including general masses want that a handful of terrorist elements must not be allowed to dictate their agenda and to impose their self-interpreted ideology in the country.
Taking note of intensity of terror-assaults, we cannot leave it to law-enforcing agencies; ISI and security forces alone to fight and win this new style war. It has to be fought collectively by the entire nation. Hence, government, media, courts and civil society must develop consensus to put up a collective response against terrorism. Blame game against security agencies, especially ISI by media and ruthless chasing by courts will simply weaken our cause and terrorists will get encouraged. So, instead of showing unrealistic approach about security forces and ISI in relation to terrorism-phenomenon and the missing persons, our internal entities must follow ground realities, as it is a war in which offence knows its target, but defence does not know.
Nonetheless, this is the right hour for the nation to practically cooperate with the security agencies to encounter terrorism.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations