Eco­nomic ter­ror­ism

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Dr Ashraf Ali

THE roots of ter­ror­ism in South Asia can be traced back to 1979 when the Rus­sian Red Army in­vaded Afghanistan as part of its ex­pan­sion­ist de­signs to be­come the sole pro­pri­etor of the world. The so­cio-eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions of Afghanistan were un­der­mined by the oc­cu­py­ing forces for pro­mot­ing their Com­mu­nist agenda. How­ever, fol­low­ing the dis­in­te­gra­tion of the Soviet Union and sub­se­quent with­drawal of its army from the war-rav­aged Afghanistan, the field was left open for the suc­ceed­ing mu­jahideen to man­age the af­fairs of the coun­try at their own dis­cre­tion.

Af­ter the fall of the Rus­sian­backed Na­jibul­lah's gov­ern­ment in 1992, Afghanistan went through dif­fer­ent phases, rules and roles. Dur­ing this era, mil­i­tancy changed its faces from mu­jahid to mul­lah and Talib to AlQaeda - and now Daesh.

These de­vel­op­ments on the western bor­der of Afghanistan did not leave Pak­istan un­af­fected. Maulana Sufi Muham­mad, leader of the Tanzeem-eNi­faz-e-Shariah-e-Muham­madi was the first to take the lead and come out to the streets to de­mand the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Shariah in the Malakand Di­vi­sion. This was a time when the Afghan Tal­iban had emerged on the po­lit­i­cal scene of Afghanistan.

Start­ing from Kan­da­har in the south of the coun­try, in a short span of only two years (1994-1996), the Tal­iban were able to con­sol­i­date their power over 90 per­cent of the land. In De­cem­ber 2007, the Pak­istani Tal­iban formed an um­brella or­gan­i­sa­tion of al­most 40 mil­i­tant or­gan­i­sa­tions un­der the ban­ner of the Tehreek-e-Tal­iban Pak­istan (TTP) with com­man­der Bait­ul­lah Mehsud in the lead.

By then the on­go­ing war against terror had be­come 'a war in­dus­try' al­low­ing all the stake­hold­ers to get their due share from the 'war econ­omy'. Crim­i­nals, kid­nap­pers, gang­sters, drugs and tim­ber mafia, politi­cians and bu­reau­crats all grabbed their share at their re­spec­tive en­try points.

And some jour­nal­ists were also part of this. They glo­ri­fied ter­ror­ists and their cause by mak­ing them out to be he­roes while selling them out in the main­stream media and par­tic­u­larly the world's lead­ing media out­lets against huge prices.

To elim­i­nate terror net­works, we need to ad­dress the evil nexus that has been fuelling ter­ror­ism and vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism for com­mer­cial in­ter­ests. Busi­ness ty­coons from the con­struc­tion and trans­port in­dus­try, spare parts deal­ers and rice mer­chants in Karachi have al­legedly been fi­nanc­ing vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism for pro­mot­ing their com­mer­cial agen­das. We need to cut off the sup­ply line that has been pro­vid­ing oxy­gen to the dy­ing soul of ter­ror­ism.

Sens­ing the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, Army Chief Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif, dur­ing his visit to Karachi, di­rected lawen­force­ment per­son­nel to break the evil nexus be­tween ter­ror­ism, crim­i­nal mafias, vi­o­lence and cor­rup­tion. He said that the op­er­a­tion would con­tinue across the board against ter­ror­ists, crim­i­nals and mafias in Karachi. The state­ment from the chief of the army staff is a clear mes­sage to those who have been part of this evil nexus.

Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif's state­ment fol­lowed the ar­rest of for­mer fed­eral min­is­ter and chair­man of the Sindh Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion, Dr Asim Hus­sain, on charges of fi­nanc­ing ter­ror­ists. Dr Asim, a close aide to for­mer pres­i­dent Asif Ali Zar­dari, is un­der pre­ven­tive de­ten­tion. In a latest de­vel­op­ment, an anti-cor­rup­tion court is­sued non-bail­able ar­rest war­rants for for­mer prime min­is­ter Syed Yousuf Raza Gil­lani and for­mer fed­eral min­is­ter for com­merce Amin Fahim in a multi-bil­lion trade sub­sidy scam (TDAP).

The high-pro­file ar­rest of Dr Asim and sim­i­lar de­vel­op­ments prompted the PPP lead­er­ship to warn the gov­ern­ment of se­ri­ous con­se­quences if any ac­tion is taken against Asif Ali Zar­dari. The op­po­si­tion leader in the Na­tional Assem­bly, Khur­shid Shah, was quoted as say­ing that any such ac­tion may trig­ger a war. Shah did not clar­ify who the war would be against.

While de­fend­ing their lead­er­ship in­volved in var­i­ous cor­rup­tion cases, party stal­warts through press con­fer­ences and TV talk shows have been terming it a vic­tim­i­sa­tion of the party's lead­ers, and that the party is be­ing pushed to the wall. A sim­i­lar stance is taken by the MQM lead­er­ship when it comes to any ac­tion against them by the Rangers in Karachi. Any at­tempt by the media to high­light these cases is sim­ply termed as a media trial.

We are in a state of war that de­mands a co­or­di­nated ef­fort on the part of all the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers - the gov­ern­ment, po­lit­i­cal par­ties and the mil­i­tary lead­er­ship to­gether with public sup­port - to make this fi­nal show­down against the mil­i­tants a suc­cess.

Pak­istan is faced with a num­ber of chal­lenges at the do­mes­tic as well as in­ter­na­tional fronts. With ten­sion on its eastern as well as western borders, the coun­try can hardly af­ford to con­cen­trate more on do­mes­tic chal­lenges. The chal­lenges on the in­ter­na­tional front de­mand our home to be in or­der. To that end, we must bring the war against terror to its log­i­cal end. Some en­cour­ag­ing de­vel­op­ments on the na­tional front speak for a bet­ter and brighter to­mor­row. Op­er­a­tion Zarb-e-Azb has been yield­ing good re­sults. With the launch of a ground of­fen­sive in the moun­tain­ous Shawal val­ley, the Fata-based mil­i­tants seem to be on the run. Keep­ing their stun­ning vic­to­ries a streak, the mil­i­tary has bro­ken the back of the ter­ror­ists. Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif's fre­quent vis­its to the bat­tle­field in the Shawal val­ley have been boost­ing the morale of his sol­diers in win­ning this decisive phase.

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