Newspaper Articles

Roundtable on reviewing the decade long-terrorism struggle 2001-2010

Pakistan’s Afghan policy is flawed and has proved to be counterproductive for the interests of the country, renowned author Ahmed Rashid said on Thursday.

He was speaking at a roundtable discussion, organised by Individual Land, a non-profit Islamabad-based think-tank, which reviewed the decade-long counter-terrorism struggle.

Throughout the decade the greatest apprehension for the citizens, government and the law enforcement agencies remained security. A number of innocent people lost their lives as a result of suicide attacks and terrorism incidents. However, it is also important to mention here the efforts of the security agencies and the government that include offensive to take control of the war affected districts. It is also important to describe here the establishment of rehabilitation centers that are playing an important role in helping the affected population to cope with the effects of this war.
It is important to mention here the province of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, which remained most affected by terrorism and the majority of the terrorist incidents took place in the tribal areas and the main cities of this province. The locals not only had to suffer the atrocities of the terrorists, but displacement and floods also added to their miseries.
In order to discuss the decade long terrorism struggle and the loopholes that existed Individualland Pakistan, a nonprofit organization arranged a roundtable on “Reviewing the decade long-terrorism struggle: 2001-2010” in a local hotel in Lahore. Another aim of the roundtable was to draw lessons from this decade, so that improvements can be made in the coming years.
The speakers included important security and political analysts, researchers, journalists and educationists. Every speaker lauded the efforts of the security personnel in clearing vast areas from the influence of the terrorists. However, everyone agreed that a lot needs to be done to take effective total control of the tribal areas, where the war is being fought.

Journalist Khaled Ahmed, Lt Gen (r) Talat Masood, Imtiaz Gul and Naveed Shinwari also spoke on the occasion. Rashid said it was a time to say good-bye to the ‘double game’ that Pakistan had been playing in Afghanistan for a decade. He said Pakistan should wholeheartedly pursue the counter-terrorism struggle and should not be reluctant to go into North Waziristan. He said a coordinated and concerted political and military strategy was the need of the hour in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). “The problem is that the army is the sole incharge of the policy in FATA whereas there has to be a significant civilian input in the process,” he said.

Lt Gen (r) Masood said Pakistan must decide now that whose war it was fighting. “If it is the US war than we would disengage ourselves from FATA and if it was Pakistan’s war then we must employ a concerted counter-insurgency strategy,” he said.

He said any counter-terrorism measure should be accompanied by a development package, especially for the education and employment sectors. Ahmed said terrorism had damaged the ideology of the state. “There are significant signs of eroding the state’s writ in rural areas of the country and if not stemmed now, this menace of terrorism will win and the country would lose this war,” he said. Ahmed said the Tribal Areas needed heavy investment in infrastructure.

Columnist Wajahat Masood said the country’s priorities as a nation-state had to be redefined. He said the Sri Lankan model of counter-insurgency would prove helpful in Pakistan. He said currently the institutions of the state were very weak to combat the huge challenge ahead. Gul said the consequences of losing this war on terror would be fatal for the country. He said all extremist networks under the guidance of al Qaeda were gaining strength and could only be defeated with a clear-cut vision of the state. The discussion was moderated by Shaukat Ali of Individual land.