Terrorism and Extremism: Trends and Challenges

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Summary:

A seminar titled ‘Terrorism and Extremism in Pakistan: Trends and Challenges’ was conducted by the ‘Pakistan Institute of Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS)’ in collaboration with the ‘Institute of Regional Studies’ (IRS) on 2nd August 2022 in the Jinnah Hall of IRS. the seminar was attended by the diplomatic staff, scholars and effective team members of the IRS and PICSS. The event began with recitation of holy Quran. Chairman PICSS, Major General Muhammad Saad Khattak (R) gave opening remarks and welcome address. During his address, the chairman remarked that the people of Pakistan are miraculously living a life in this harsh environment.

Welcome Address by Chairman PICSS Major General Saad Khattak (R)

During the seminar, Managing Director of PICSS, Mr. Abdullah Khan presented a dataset in front of audience. The statistics include the rate of militant attacks on Pakistani soil since 2001. The insightful presentation was holding a data to explain 4 phases of militancy in Pakistan since 9/11. Moreover, the panel speakers provided their inputs in the latter section of the seminar. The panelists include Vice Chairman Reform Movement Pakistan Malik Habib Noor, Former Head of NACTA Ihsan Ghani and Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman (R). At the end of the session, the house was opened for the Question and Answer session. The panelists responded to the questions diligently.

Speakers of Seminar Managing Director PICSS Abdullah Khan, Former Air Chief PAF Sohail Aman (R), Ihsan Ghani Former Head NACTA, Malik Habib Noor Vice Chairman Movement for Reforms.

Abdullah Khan, Managing Director PICSS:                                                  

Topic: Terror Trends in Pakistan: Post 9/11 

Duringthe session, Mr. Abdullah Khan presented a dataset explaining the 4 phases of militancy. Mr. Abdullah have narrowed down the first phase from 2001 to 2007 which is the initiating phase of the militant attacks on Security forces and the common people of Pakistan. The Managing Director also called the Laal Mosque attack in Islamabad a turning point in the history of militancy in the country.

Abdullah Khan Managing Director PICSS addressing the Audience

The militancy graph went steep again after 2007 and continued till 2014. After APS attack, the TTP has lost the sympathy from many of its sympathizers. In the third phase, which began after 2014 and lasted till 2019, Mr. Abdullah noted the decline of militancy in the country due to the successful operation Zarb-e-Azab. In the later section, he explored the resurgence of the militant attacks after 2019 when Baluch militants have gained the influence in Baluchistan. In addition to it, the Taliban take over in Kabul also boosted the militant attacks across the borer in Pakistan. He said that it was a strange coincidence that the efforts to unite Baloch militants and different factions of TTP started almost at the same time. BRAS was formed in 2018 while TTP’s splinter groups merged back into the main group in 2020. Since then, the militant attacks are consistently on the rise in the country.

Malik Habib Noor Habib, Vice Chairman Movement for Reforms Pakistan                                  

Topic: Talks with TTP: Challenges and Opportunity

In his address, Mr. Malik Habib Noor have noted that Islam doesn’t allow extremism in the society. And Pakistan has been tied up since the day it came into existence in 1947. UNSC resolutions were not answered while the country has done a lot since the start of Cold war. Mr. Habib has noted that the country has been left after the disintegration of Soviet Union in 1990s and FATA is the region which have faced the repercussion of the jihad.

Malik Habib Noor discussing about talks with TTP their Challenges and opportunities

He also stressed over the reforms in FATA, creating Jobs, skills, and education. According to him, there can be two formulas to end the conflict. One is force and the second is negotiation. Since war is not a solution, negotiations is the only option left, he added. In the end, he also explored the reasons for extremism. These include poverty and lack of jobs in the society.

Mr. Ihsan Ghani, Former National Coordinator NACTA:                            

Topic: Role of Governance in Combating Terrorism

The former National Coordinator NACTA, Mr. Ihsan Ghani, briefed the audience about his experience of working about terrorism and extremism nationwide. He explained terrorism and extremism and reasons of its rise in the public. Identity politics plays a role in creating the grievances among common people which pushes them towards taking up arms against the state authorities. He informed about Push and Pull factors which are in society and environment which further engulf the minds of common people within society. Push factors include elements such as human right violations, corruption, elite capture and lack of governance.

Ihsan Ghani Former head NACTA grabbing the attention of Audience through discussing Role of Governance in Combating Terrorism

As being at the top levels of policy making circles, Ghani gave an insight about policy making trends and his experience as a policy maker at state level. He stressed that Pakistan is one of the most legislated country in the world but there is very little implementation of these policy documents. The concept of hard and soft intervention was put forward by him. Different socio economic factors were explained which contribute towards the rise of extremism and terrorism in the society.

Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman (R):  

Topic: Pakistan’s CT Policies and their Impact on reducing Terrorism in Pakistan

In the end the Final panel speaker of the seminar, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman (R) have also addressed the seminar. In his sermon, the Air Chief Marshal called out the sacrifices of the people of Pakistan in the War on Terror of the united States. He also claimed the success of the security forces that the country have put an end to menace. Sohail Aman also stressed on the smart power rather than hard or soft power to combat the militancy in the country. He noted that, it is required to be prudent in deciding what fits best at the moment.

ACM Sohail Aman (R) Former Air Chief PAF addressing the Seminar

In addition to it, the Air Marshal proposed three pillars of the state including Security, Stability, and Prosperity. While referring to an instance of Africa, he explained that the country should build these pillars or otherwise country will resemble Africa soon. In the latter end of his speech, he noted the sacredness of the Constitution calling it a ‘Bible’. While exploring democratic system, his voice was echoing with words, ‘Democracy is not a solution fit for all’. In the end he stressed over prosperity through generating a secure environment through a national resolve.

Question/ Answer Session:

Atthe near end of the Seminar, the questions were raised by the attendees of the seminar. One of the participant asked about the good and bad Taliban and why can’t the state consider all the terrorists in the same ambit? In response to the question, the panellist Ihsan Ghani have said that there are three types of militants, good, bad and ugly. Those who fight for us (Pakistan) as our proxies are good. Those who fight against us are bad and are sub-nationalists who are the ugly ones.

In addition to it, the PTV correspondent Raza Khan have asked about soft policies against the militants who are killing the people. In response to the question, Air Marshal Sohail Aman® stressed on the implementation on the national action plan starting from bringing the terrorists to justice by hanging them and showing no mercy to those who had killed our children in the past.

In response to the same question, Ihsan Ghani have commented that terrorism is a foreign policy as well as internal policy tool and the global and regional powers want at least a low intensity conflict existing in the region. Secondly, he noted that Pakistan’s policies are reactive than proactive as he related it the formation NAP in response to the APS. He was of the point that the policies should have been proactive to reduce the risk of terrorism. In addition to it all, the former NACTA head have categorically said, that the NAP is an excellent document but unfortunately, it has been used for the political purposes. State is the most powerful actor, and it can do whatever it wants to as the Karachi operation is an example.

Chairman PICSS Major General Saad Khattak (R) along with other Ambassador’s attending the Seminar.

Another Question from Dr. Shabana Fiaz, an attendee and a Professor of DSS at Quaid-e-Azam University came up that what is the status of Tribal Jirga mediating between TTP and State of Pakistan? Is it proposed by you people or sent by the state? The question was responded by Malik Habib Noor noting its authority highly approved from the state as well as the will of the people.

In the last a participant asked to the panel that why the government could not succeed in negotiating with the religious community? While responding the question, Ihsan Ghani told that its very easy to talk with them and build a consensus and we have done it. But unfortunately, the country lacks political resolve over it.

Closing Remarks:   

At the end of the seminar, the President of the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) Ambassador Nadeem Riaz have concluded the discussion. In his note, the Ambassador said there is no permanent definition of terrorism, depends upon what side you are watching the phenomenon. Whenever the world talks about Pakistan they mostly talk about terrorism and extremism. He also noted that, the extremism and terrorism can be a cause of poverty, lack of jobs, revenge etc.

President IRS Ambassador Nadeem Riyaz (R) giving closing remarks to the audience

Ambassador Nadeem also noted that if Pakistan is the subjected to the terrorism, what would be the status of our neighbours such as Afghanistan, India and Iran and the Global Interests of the west. Pakistan lives in a very insecure neighbourhood for which we have lost more than 70,000 people and the money. Mr. Nadeem also reiterated that he has answered the questions for ten years that Pakistan is a peaceful country, and it has fought for its survival.   

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