ISLAMABAD: Al Qaeda’s presence in Pakistan may have been reduced but its dreaded legacy to unleashing violence through its offshoots lives through the time, with the militants and militancy stronger than before.
With today (May 2) marking the third ‘anniversary’ of Osama bin Laden’s killing at the hands of American Navy SEALs in a well-coordinated midnight operation in the garrison city of Abbottabad, the complex riddles shrouding the entire episode go unsolved.
From the OBL Commission’s report stirring ripples in Pakistan’s socio-political diasporas to the outright dismissive disposition of the ruling government functionaries on having a shred of knowledge or clue about the world’s most wanted fugitive’s presence in the heart of a major cantonment city, the aftermath of OBL’s elimination shapes quite a background.
Now that most part of this saga is what many believe an already overdone phenomenon, some troubling questions, however, still need an answer.
Pertinent to this context comes the obvious inquiry: has the al Qaeda’s presumed weakening in Pakistan following the killing of OBL and other top Qaeda commanders (in drone strikes) proved detrimental to the militancy? Many believe, no!
For analysts and thinkers, the death of a terrorist or some militant commanders may have caused a physical setback to an organisation, but the dangerous legacy they have conceptualised will not be defeated with such stereotypes.
“It’s a cancer that spreads to decay everything, if not cured,” says Brigadier (r) Mahmood Shah, a former security boss and now a security analyst.
Shah believes that the violent means bin Laden had conceived to add lethality to his terror motives have simply been passed on to his disciples and admirers at the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
“The suicide bombing is a lethal militant instrument, and it has simply had a trickle-down effect in Pakistan – from the al Qaeda to the TTP – and the consequences are fatal.”
Shah perceives the TTP as an offshoot/subordinate organisation of al Qaeda. “The new centre of concentration of al Qaeda fighters is Syria, and their Taliban offshoots are serving their purposes in Pakistan.”
Like any TTP critic, Mahmood Shah believes that hollow political rhetoric sans a solid will would end up brewing more problems.
“Militancy is not a gossip, a rumour or a news that will die down with the passage of time. You have to show a resolve translated into a concrete action to defeat it. Or else, you have to bear with it.”
Shah regrets that the political divide and the ages-old stereotypes glorifying the ‘peace talks’ mantra are not doing any good. “The state’s silence is fuelling fire. The situation may slip out of our hands if the rulers keep shying away from shouldering their responsibility. It’s high time that the security bosses and ruling functionaries come together to lay a firm hand on the troublemakers.”
Lieutenant General (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch, a federal minister and a security expert, says that force alone cannot defeat a mindset. “Militancy often contexts an ideology. Coercive powers [of the military] alone cannot defeat an ideology. You have to look for other means.”
The use of force, Baloch believes, can bring short-term gains, but the issue, he adds, requires long-term consideration.
“The permanent remedy lies in a multi-faceted strategy. Economic advancement, education, social awareness, employment – all the ingredients have to be poured in once the militancy-plagued areas are demilitarised by force, provided that the peace measures cease to work – to bring everlasting peace. This is the only solution.”
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