Pakistan’s Good vs Bad Terror Policy Will Always Backfire

Pakistan doesn’t need external enemies, its duplicitous terror policy is enough, Harsha Kakar writes. 

3 min read
Pakistan’s Good vs Bad Terror Policy Will Always Backfire

The last two weeks have witnessed a surge of terror strikes in Pakistan. The latest strike at a Sufi shrine in Sehwan killed over 70 people.

An earlier one in Lahore resulted in fourteen deaths. There have been other attacks as well, including on a convoy of judges and blasts targeting security personnel in Peshawar and Balochistan.

This is despite Pakistan having launched an anti-terror drive called Zarb-e-Azb in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), North Waziristan, Karachi and Balochistan. Anti-terror actions have also commenced in Punjab. The groups claiming responsibility for the terror strikes include breakaway factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also known as the TTP and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Pakistan has always been known to adopt an official strategy of ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ terror groups. The Haqqani Network, Afghan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), basically terror groups operating against Afghanistan and India, are considered favourable to Pakistan and are, thus, officially supported by the ‘deep state’.

The TTP, its various breakaway factions, and the ISIS, which are anti-Pakistan, are considered anti-national and targeted. This policy has been backfiring for a while. It is proving the old adage, ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’.

Who’s Behind These Attacks?

The ISIS in Pakistan currently comprises members who are disenchanted with their original groups, or those who have been enticed to join with promises of higher compensation. After all, a mercenary will fight for anyone who pays more.

The TTP and its splinter groups have conducted numerous suicide blasts and strikes, disproving the army’s claims about its anti-terror strategy. They draw their cadre locally or even from the Afghan Taliban, which Pakistan supports. The TTP is an off shoot of the Afghan Taliban and directly targets Pakistan. While the Afghan Taliban has its bases in Pakistan, the TTP, ISIS and other anti-Pak terror groups have their bases in Afghanistan or close to the border, moving back and forth at will.

Every time there is an incident, Pakistan blames India and Afghanistan, for funding and providing bases, respectively. It has failed to realise and inform its people that those whom the deep state supports can always go against and challenge the state. Their support to ‘good’ terror groups is no guarantee that their members won't switch sides. They may be able to control the leaders from switching but have no control over thousands who form the rank and file of the groups. Most, being mercenaries, can easily switch sides due to ideological backing and financial benefits.


Pakistan Needs to Rethink Immediately

The world has been warning Pakistan against following a policy of ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ terror but to no avail. It has now come to a stage where the country may need to seriously consider its options. Going after ‘good’ terror groups may push some of the state's supporters to the wall, but civilian casualties in anti-terror operations could create more suicide bombers for the future.

The sudden surge in anti-terror operations after the Sehwan strike in which Pakistan has claimed that over a hundred militants have been killed was backed by air power and artillery. Such operations cause collateral casualties amongst the local population. This will push more fence-sitters into the militant fold.

Hence, because of its own faulty policies and actions, Pakistan is moving deeper into trouble and greater internal chaos. It does not need enemies to break its internal fabric. It will be responsible for its own downfall unless it plans and conducts anti-terror operations with more finesse, winning over fence-sitters and avoiding collateral damage. The days ahead will determine Pakistan’s future. We only need to watch from the side-lines as Pakistan handles its own internal quagmire.

(The author is a retired army officer based in Lucknow. He can be reached @kakar_harsha. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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