As long as terrorism takes center stage in Pakistan, there can be little hope, if any, for the future of tourism – the only industry right now that could build the torn country back up.
It was relatively a warm Friday of December 2009 in Rawalpindi. Namaazi were leaving Qasim Masjid of the Rawalpindi Cantonment area situated at Parade Lane—the road that links to this mosque to G T Road that is also known as Peshawar Road.
Being a mosque of Cantonment, Qasim Masjid is a known place where one can find hundreds of serving and retired army officials during Friday prayers. Therefore, this place appeared on the map of world terrorism. This mosque was targeted by terrorists in a daring mid-day raid in the heart of Cantonment of Rawalpindi when Juma Namaaz ended and Namaazi were coming out of the mosque. Attackers of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) killed over 40 Namaazi including top-ranking army officials and their children. This attack was a combination of gunfire, grenades, and suicide bomb blasts. TTP accepted responsibility of this attack through it social media outlets.
The attack, which also injured at least 86 people, was in retaliation for the Pakistani military’s assault on TTP strongholds in South Waziristan and other tribal areas on the Pak-Afghan border. The dead persons included 17 children. Three attackers were killed by security guards.
Six years later: Friday September 18, 2015
PAF Camp Badabair Peshawar Mosque
Namaazi, mostly officials of the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Army, were performing Fajr (Morning Prayer) when 16 plus terrorists entered the mosque and killed them like sitting ducks. This was a part of an attack on PAF Camp that took place on September 18, 2015.
During all this, 6 years that passed between the Qasim Masjid attack and PAF mosque attack, religio- political parties have been claiming that terrorists who wish to destroy Pakistan are sons of soil, religious persons, and strategic assets of Islam for launching Islamic system all over the world. The government in power in KPK was singing the same tune.
The government of Pakistan engaged in peace talks due to moral pressure from religion parties as well as the KPK government with such terrorists in May 2014. This was almost the same span of time when terrorists released videos of beheading soldiers and playing football with their heads.
Talks were ended because terrorists refused to accept the Constitution of Pakistan and even the name of Pakistan and insisted that Pakistan’s name must be written in the Arabic sound as Al-Bakistan, because there is no P sound in Arabic, while the name of the country starts with this P sound. There were more points that were not acceptable by Pakistan government as well as by the terrorists. Pakistan launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in June 2014 against terrorists in tribal areas that is still going on successfully.
A massacre of the Army Public School Peshawar that took place on December 16, 2014 killed any last hope of negotiation when terrorists killed over 130 innocent children in school, a majority of them belonging to families of armed forces officials. This was the extreme brutal strike of terrorists on the hearts of the Pakistan Army.
PAF Camp Peshawar has been nonoperational since 2005 and is being used mostly for non-combat activities. According to the Pakistan Air Force, there are no PAF aircrafts parked at camp, therefore, one can say that the motive of terrorists was not striking and destroying aircrafts, but rather to strike an armed installation for sending a message to the world that the war against terrorism is neither over nor has it been won by Pakistan Army.
There is no doubt that Pakistan is fighting against 4th generation warfare. 4th Generation Warfare that is known as 4GW is a conflict characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, combatants and civilians, while 5GW has an imposing characteristic that the enemy proposes and promotes a specific philosophy and narrative accepted by masses, and religion is usually used for such philosophy. Technically speaking, this is the same warfare that Pakistan and the United States launched together in the so-called Afghan Jihad against the former USSR without engaging themselves directly in war and creating Mujahedeen as a tool for 4GW. This 4GW gave birth to several Islamic Jihadi organizations that emerged internationally including Al Qaeda, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, ISIS, Boko Haram, etc. Who sponsored such organizations and who are using them against humanity is not a difficult question to answer. The Pakistan Army itself believes that it is fighting against 4th/5th Generation Warfare launched by India against Pakistan.
The war against terrorism is yet not over. The negative impact of nurturing the terrorist mindset, harboring hardcore world’s best terrorists in tribal areas, providing land for Jihadi training, injecting global Jihad among generations that were brought up after 1979, cannot be eliminated in months and maybe not even in years. Gen. Ehsan in a TV interview said that Pakistan opened the gates for all during the Afghan-Russo Jihad, and Pakistan had no record of who came in and who was who. This is “The Reality of Pakistan” indeed.
Glorifying Afghan Jihad and beating drums that one Jihadi can defeat a regular army is now bringing fruits to those who are enemies of Pakistan. They are virtually using the same weapon against the Pakistan Army that was made by Pakistan 35 years ago – the weapon is not terrorists, but rather the mindset and slogan that – a Jihadi can defeat a regular army.
The question that needs to be answered is: should we not decide today that we will not institutionalize criminals in the future as strategic assets?