National security woes


Corps Commander Peshawar Lt General Shaheen Mazhar Mehmood, while addressing the local media on Sunday, stated that the Pakistan Army does not support any non-state actors in the form of jihadist militant groups and desires to pursue sustainable measures for peace and stability in the region. He mentioned that troops would be withdrawn from all seven districts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) within the next two years, peace committees would continue their work to reduce militancy and that border fencing along the western border would be a top priority for preventing cross-border movements. Further adding that no additional military operations would be conducted with local forces such as Levies to be transformed into modern fighting force.
These are indeed some welcoming steps being announced by the general since Pakistan has fought a long and bloody war against terrorism which claimed thousands of innocent lives. In light of the reduction in terror incidents and the Afghan Peace Process underway between key stakeholders, such steps signal a way forward for sustained stability.
Nevertheless, his statement regarding jihadist groups should likely be viewed from a sceptical point of view since history has remained cruel when it came to such matters. Back in the 1980s and the 1990s, militancy in certain parts of the region had alleged backing of state actors that were used for pursuing the erstwhile ‘strategic depth’ policy.
What Pakistan needs is to address concerns of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which placed the country on grey list in June 2018.
Former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, in an interview with Bloomberg during July 2018, had indicated that all key concerns of FATF would be resolved by September 2019. It is yet to be seen whether these concerns are already being addressed since money laundering has been a major cause of terror financing and militancy. Perhaps, Finance Minister Asad Umar should provide an update on the matter soon.
The armed forces have reclaimed the trust of the people through various operations, including those based on combing measures. However, the deradicalisation process would require a uniform education system complemented by rehabilitation measures. What we saw in recent months with regards to groups such as the TLP openly inciting violence was damaging for the state’s integrity.