Pakistan’s weak counter-terrorism efforts urging for foreign policy reset
China’s call for action against terrorist groups operating in Pakistan has been termed a ‘diplomatic breakthrough’; however, Pakistan considers this to be a stab-in-the-back kind of move by a long-time friend.
The highlight of the 9th BRICS Summit was the consensus between the world’s emerging economies to take immediate measures against the terrorist outfits Taliban, ISIL/Daish, Al-Qaida, the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and TTP.
Although, Pakistan was not explicitly blamed behind the inaction against these groups, nonetheless, it is clear that Pakistan is being held responsible as most of these terrorist groups operate and recruit from within the state.
Earlier, US threatened to halt military aid given to Pakistan if it doesn’t take strong counter-terrorism measures to take down militant ‘safe havens’ on its grounds.
However, once again, Pakistan became defensive over the fact that it is blamed time and time again for a problem that it is also a victim of, and will not respond to the ‘do more’ orders given by anyone- even if it’s our concerned friend China.
The current series of events clearly reveal that Pakistan is isolated in regional and global front even if it continues to remain in denial.
Despite the foreign pressure, right-wing militant parties have managed to stand their ground and the militant doctrine was able to penetrate into the state system by successfully participating in the recent by-elections.
Milli Muslim League (MML) – the political new face of terrorist group Jamaat ud Dawah was able to garner enough votes to call attention to future prospects of extremist governance in the country.
“This is the result of trying to become a religious state, combining state matters with religion,” said I.A Rehman, former ambassador and journalist.
“The reason why no major political party has raised any objections to their participation because they are aware that these people have not come out of their own,” said Rehman, while talking to DNA.
Pakistan has not yet defined its stance on terrorism and continues to ignore the radicalization taking place within the society. It needs to acknowledge that extremist ideology is a disease spreading right under its nose, causing violence and destruction all over.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) reiterated that abolishing militant hideouts in Pakistan is a must not just for the safety of Afghanistan but also to bring peace and stability in the region.
Moreover, President Ghani, while taking a subtle dig at Pakistan also said that Afghanistan is not simply receiving aid from the US but in return fighting actively in the ‘war on terror’.
“China has taken Pakistan on board to work against terrorism, however, looking at apparatuses, right-wing militant organizations will be assisting in electoral domain now,” said strategic analyst, Qamar Cheema.
“By, 2023 they will be fully integrated as these right-wing Islamist parties may influence local body’s elections next time,” Cheema added.
China’s interest lies in ensuring regional economic progress and is investing in building relations with neighbouring countries to provide a stable and secure environment for development.
Pakistan must also work on this global problem as it also serves national interests.
“Pakistan’s civil and military leaderships have not reached a consensus on the matter as indicated by statements from both units,” said Wali Zahid- longtime China watcher and a journalist, while talking to DNA.
“Although, Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja Asif and Premier Shahid Khaqan both admitted the need to set our own house in order, yet mixed statements from the leadership are sending a wrong message,” said Zahid.
“Pakistan and China are aware that MML is the political front of a powerful militant group, and could not be stopped from contesting in the elections,” he added.
Despite the cold treatment from all around, Pakistan’s foreign policy reset must involve reestablishing ties with Afghanistan and provide a sense of security to China regarding major development projects.
Pakistan’s alliance with China and Russia to keep a check on the rising influence of Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh) in Afghanistan is to prevent a unilateral dominance by the US in the region.
“How can anybody object to militant political parties when they use the name of religion to promote their agenda,” said I.A Rehman.
“Pak-China relations will become weaker unless we change our course of action,” Rehman added.
Being one of the most targeted victims of terrorism, Pakistan needs to restructure its counter-terrorism and strategic policies as they are now affecting its foreign relations more than ever.
Taking action against terrorism serves best Pakistan’s own interests, eventually leading to bringing peace and stability in the region as the world is focusing itself in a direction that is inclined towards economic progress.