An Effective Counter Terrorism Strategy

26 Sep

Having recently criticized Imran Khan’s statement regarding opening up a “Taliban Office” in Pakistan, it is important to clarify and offer an alternative solution. The usage of the term “Counter Terrorism Strategy” (hereinafter referred to as “CTS”) is increasing by the day, yet no concrete explanation of what constitutes an effective CTS has been provided. Drafting an all-encompassing CTS, tailored specifically for Pakistan, is not an easy task. The first step in doing so is through identification of the various outfits carrying out terrorist activities, inclusive of but not limited to TTP and LeJ. Classifying the aforementioned groups (and others engaging in violence against the State of Pakistan and its citizens) as terrorist organizations is pertinent for two reasons. Firstly, it draws a clear distinction between actual terrorist organizations and extremist or radical outfits. Consequently, on a second level, this would assist in demarcating distinct strategies for dealing with the two different threats to Pakistan, as the threat each group poses requires the adoption of a specific approach to deal with it.

Dealing with the extremist or radical groups is a relatively straightforward task. These are the groups that are not engaging in acts of violence but that may be inclined to do so in the future unless there are educational and legislative reforms, strong political presence and the enforcement of law and order. Extremist ideology is a consequence of inadequate education and a general lack of awareness. The State must ensure that the standard of public school education is improved (it may be a good idea for the new government to follow PTI’s education policy in KPK, with its focus on the implementation of a compulsory standard curriculum, monitoring of teacher and student attendance and so forth). In doing so, radical indoctrination and impulses will automatically subside. With regard to a strong political presence, all this really means that elected leaders from their respective constituencies must constantly engage with their voters to ensure their problems do not go unheard. Radical sentiments tend to develop where segments of society feel neglected, therefore, for politicians from each constituency to open up offices where there is constant interaction between themselves and their voters is a much-needed step in the right direction. Where legislative reforms are concerned, political parties must put aside their ideological differences to incorporate strong-worded and explicit penalties pertaining to acts of violence committed against not only the State but also civilians into already existing legislation on these issues. This strengthens the legal system in the sense that the risk of engaging in acts of violence becomes too high. Moreover, in order to guarantee all segments of society abide by the new and improved legislation, law enforcement mechanisms must be made more effective. Police salaries must increase, whilst simultaneously enhancing their training and providing them with updated equipment.

On the other end of the spectrum, a CTS dealing with actual terrorist organizations is slightly more complicated in its practical implementation. There are some basic ideas that should be given consideration. There should an explicit ban on all terrorist outfits and all those who associate or aid them should be severely punished. There cannot be negotiations with those organizations engaging in atrocious crimes against innocent civilians. The reason is simple; the State simply cannot speak to those who function outwith the constitution. However, those groups that have taken up arms in response to drone attacks, or lack of state attention to their very real everyday problems must be spoken to. Their problems must be addressed in order to ensure organizations such as TTP do not even get the opportunity to take them on board and further radicalize them. The imposition of the TTP’s version of a Shariah State is not only in violation of everything Shariah Law stands for but is also unconstitutional, in every sense of the word. The State cannot negotiate with those who want to lock up women and ensure they are not provided access to education and basic rights. There is a need for the Pakistan Military to carry out targeted strikes against these groups as their elimination is the only way forward. We cannot, however, afford another military operation as they are too costly in terms of civilian casualties.

The solution is straight forward – all it requires is a little policy formulation and commitment.

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One Response to “An Effective Counter Terrorism Strategy”

  1. waqasamirza October 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Reblogged this on Waqasamirza’s Blog.

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