An Indian army soldier stands guard while patrolling near the Line of Control, a ceasefire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, in Poonch district. Photo: REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta
An Indian army soldier stands guard while patrolling near the Line of Control, a ceasefire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, in Poonch district. Photo: REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta

An unusual intro. But, this is important. A humble request to all of the naysayers: please move on. Please don’t scroll down any further. Please engage in something better and more fruitful. The following lines might not go down well, particularly, if a ‘foreign hand’ is what you try to locate every time a terrorist activity is conducted within Pakistan. Although, yes, the western border of Pakistan is extremely porous and the state of affairs prevalent at the eastern border is an open secret.

Operatives from Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and National Directorate of Security (NDS) might be flirting in and out of Pakistan, but then again, this is what the game is all about. Those know how it’s played, or are cognizant about the dynamics of covert operations, might agree that sustaining and carrying on the activities in an alien territory is all about local support. Ward it off, and the operative, irrespective of how heroic s/he is, would then be running for cover. Same goes for Pakistan. Cut-off the local supply lines, and the result would be imminent. Welcome to the world of human intelligence!

Pakistanis tend to find solace in pointing fingers at others all the time, rather than looking inwards and asking the most appropriate questions during the most difficult of the situations. Avoid phlegmatic approach. Think outside of the box. Use your brains. It’ll surely help. Alright, please allow me to put some of the questions in front of you.

  • Is the number of Pakistanis having a soft corner for ISIL and other affiliates increasing or decreasing in Pakistan?
  • Is there any support base for Daesh in Pakistan?
  • Are there any eminent Pakistani scholars linked with IS?
  • Did the far right in Pakistan celebrate the gruesome assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Mr. Andrey G. Karlov, in Ankara?
  • Would you debunk Royal United Services Institute’s report that around 2,500 ISIL operatives are operating from within Pakistan?
  • Why have hundreds of Pakistani citizens flown over to Syria in the last year or so?
  • Have you forgotten the Safoora Goth Carnage?
  • Don’t you no longer remember the names of Khalid Bari and Adil Masood Butt?

The list goes on. It is appalling to see Pakistanis refusing to introspect. Many of the analysts are too good to cater to the jingoistic rhetoric. That’s an anathema to logical thinking and rationality. Look, when you aren’t willing to accept that a fault line exists, then corrective measures become a foregone conclusion.

I’ve been saying this for a long time now. The danger lies within. It’s torpedoing fast. Sequester yourself from garbled thoughts; analyze the situation at hand, and come out of your torpidity.

Let’s take the example of the proposed Diamer-Bhasha dam in Pakistan. Since Pakistan’s water problems are galloping along fast, more dams in Pakistan have become a necessity. However, a boundary dispute between the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has made the project run into a logjam.

The Harban tribe (Kohistan-KPK) seems to be at loggerheads with the Thor tribe (GB). The disputed land, located in Gandlo Nala area, spans around eight kilometers. Is there a foreign hand involved that is perpetuating the row? Perhaps, Pakistan is suffering from maledictions of mismanagement and myopic thinking.

By 2050, Pakistan’s population is expected to reach 350-400 million. If all of this energy can be channeled and rationality takes over, then Pakistan’s standing among the comity of nations can surely get better. Coming back to the dynamics of countering terrorism and extremism in Pakistan. Since Afghan refugees are often blamed for perpetrating terrorist activities within Pakistan; this is what you need to know.

Afghan refugees aren’t the issue. Having them forcibly leave Pakistan wouldn’t do. If not properly managed, it can backfire. It can muddy the waters even more. If Afghan refugees are part of the problem in Pakistan, then one can’t really question President-elect Mr. Donald Trump’s logic of contemplating barring Muslims entering the United States. Rely on human intelligence. Rely on covert operations. But, Pakistan shouldn’t play into the hands of the extremists.

A piece of advice to comply with in 2017: Stop blaming others for whatever bad happens back home. Stop making excuses. Start looking for the loopholes, fix them- or at least, ensure you’re part of the solution, not the problem itself.

It’ll work. It definitely would.

Shazar Shafqat

Shazar Shafqat is a counterterrorism and security analyst, and an award-winning essayist. His research focuses on South Asian security environment, Middle East politics and security issues, counterterrorism strategies and military-related affairs. His commentary on the Af-Pak and Middle East security issues regularly features across renowned media outlets including Middle East Eye, Middle East Monitor, The Diplomat, Asia Times, World Policy Journal, RealClearDefense, Dawn, The News International,...

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