Implement or amend the security policy?
Pakistan’s efforts to make any progress in the ‘war on terror’ are made futile every time there is another terrorist attack.
Earlier this week, at least eight people, including seven policemen, were martyred in Quetta leaving several others injured in an apparent suicide bombing targeting a police vehicle.
Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Quetta.
Ensuring the safety of those who are responsible for protecting others against these violent attacks must be a priority, but our security policy is flawed and out-dated.
The state’s inability to reduce the death toll in Balochistan is apparent in the form of recurring attacks and no amendments or improvements are made to the counterterrorism measures against external and domestic elements of terrorism.
“The federal government developed a National Internal Security Policy but it was never implemented,” said Former IG Punjab, Shaukat Javed.
“After the attack on APS in Peshawar, the National Action Plan (NAP) was devised to combat militancy and terrorism but out of the 20 points in the framework only 2 have yet been implemented since 2015 including the Rangers operation in Karachi,” said Javed.
NAP mandates intel-sharing among the intelligence agencies and police but the two policing structures lack coordination and cannot operate single-handedly.
Collaboration between police forces and intelligence units is needed in Balochistan and Sindh as it has been happening effectively in KP, and Punjab.
“Changes in the current security policy can only be made once the federal government enforces the implementation of the National Internal Security Policy,” said Former IG Punjab, Shaukat Javed.
Pakistan is already crippled with socio-political and socio-economic problems and the ineffective measures against militants groups operating within the boundaries are creating further challenges on the global front.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently said that it is an ‘obligation and not a choice’ for every civilized country to participate in fighting against terrorism.
He also warned Pakistan that the international reputation will be weakened for any country using terror as an instrument of policy.
The authorities need to pay urgent attention to the relevance of policing structure against the domestic insurgency by providing financial support as well as pushing for strategic policy development.
“Considering the security situation in Balochistan, our responsibility is to find out who the enemy is based on ground conditions,” said Balochistan Home Minister, Sarfraz Bugti.
“We have neutralized several militants including extremist leaders from Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Jaish-e-Islam,” said Bugti.
Identifying the factors instigating insurgency in the region is imperative yet there isn’t any addition of valuable information about the anti-state terrorist groups operating in the country or outside the borders.
Balochistan has been a vulnerable target of home-ground insurgency due to a directionless policy.
“The institution that is responsible for drafting and amending the security policy must report directly to the prime minister but it is still under the authority of the Interior Ministry,” said Shaukat Javed.
“NACTA is handicapped as it is not supported with sufficient funds,” said Javed. “A strategic security policy already exists but it needs to be implemented,” said Javed.
Apart from the military operation, the amendments in the security policy require a strategy that targets terrorism originating from our country as it is considered a bigger threat to the state.
The most effective counter-terrorism policy must involve attacking the roots of this problem by developing a narrative against extremist ideology.
Police and intelligence agencies need to cooperate to stop terrorist groups from operating and networking in the country in order to stay one step ahead of the situation as ‘prevention is better than the cure’.
“Banking on the military to clear out sensitive areas is not enough,” said Javed. “The authorities must enforce Madrassah reforms, FATA reforms, and improving the criminal justice system.”
Madrassah reforms are needed to eliminate the environment of extremism created under the manipulation of religion as a tool for violence and terror.
Without a fixed stance against radicalization, extremist elements will continue breeding terrorism on our grounds and hinder peace and stability in the entire region.
The civil and military leadership needs to cooperate and form a strategic security policy to counter insurgents in Balochistan.
“Criticism only de-moralises the police force as they are participating actively against militancy,” said Sarfaraz Bugti.
“Any amendments to the security policy must address the ongoing refugee crisis in Balochistan,” said Bugti. “Protecting porous borders against external anti-state elements is much needed.”
The effectiveness of any counterterrorism policy is dependent on the implementation strategy.
The real challenge for the federal government is to ensure that the security policy is being implemented to receive positive results against terrorism whether it is caused by internal or external factors.
The peace and stability of the entire region across Pakistan is relying on us to combat terrorism that is breeding on our grounds.