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Raheel Sharif recounts Pakistan's war against terrorism: 'There is a method to this madness'

Updated Jan 18, 2017 05:34pm


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Former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, while addressing a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday, called for a global intelligence sharing strategy to combat terrorism all over the world.

Sharif, during a session titled 'Terrorism in the digital age', said that 2016 had witnessed a significant decrease in terrorism and that "intelligence sharing is a very important component of strategy to combat terrorism."

"Terrorism is a global issue and the global community will have to get united if it wants to defeat terrorism," he said.

Discussing modern terrorism, Sharif maintained that new methods of communication give terrorists a huge advantage and that "it [terrorism] is not only a cancer, it is the most deadly form of cancer."

When the discussion moved towards the need for international measures against terrorism, Raheel Sharif said, "I think at the international level there is the need for synergy and a pact like the UN's 1373 resolution which binds us together."

Recalling Pakistan’s experience in its fight against terrorism, he added: "In Pakistan it was the ‘whole nation’ approach which paid off. When a horrendous attack like the school incident in which over 135 children were killed occurred, everyone came together."

"I think in this digital age intelligence sharing is the key to success against terrorism and it would make a huge difference," he concluded.

'There is a method to this madness'

"These terrorists have the ability to mutate, to morph and they can do it very quickly. Obviously this platform [the internet] is available to them and they [terrorists] us it very effectively; recruitment is only one thing, the financiers, the facilitators, the sleeper cells and the sympathisers, all of them are involved in [the process through the internet]," Sharif said during the discussion.

General (retd) Raheel Sharif speaks at the World Economic Forum. -AP
General (retd) Raheel Sharif speaks at the World Economic Forum. -AP

"There is a requirement for the free world to gel together and react on a fast pace. I would say we would have to go on a certain pitch to fight this menace," the former Army chief concluded.

Talking about how terrorists strategise, Raheel Sharif said: "They plan their attacks very well, they want glorification. If you see the timing if you see the targets, there is a method to this madness, and it is not someone sitting in a cave that is doing these things."

Highlighting Pakistan’s struggle with terrorism at the forum, Sharif said: “I would just like to say a few words about our Pakistan and the region, we used to have around 150 incidents [of terrorist incidents] a month and from that we came down to a single figure in 2016 and now … we have one [terrorist] incident in one or two months.”

'Freedom of speech and human rights are tricky'

While talking about international laws that protect human rights and freedom of speech, Raheel Sharif said the two concerns are sometimes difficult to handle.

"When you are dealing with hardcore terrorists like those in the school incident, there were mothers that met me and asked that these terrorists be apprehended and hanged within the school's premises. At that moment, someone brought up human rights, and one of the mothers said to me what about our human right?," he said.

"So there is a balance which is required ... there is the need to deal with these terrorists in a very firm way and, I personally feel, in a manner which creates deterrence. Obviously the laws and rules need to be followed as well," Sharif concluded.

'Military courts were the need of the hour'

"Do you think you can deter someone who is ready to sacrifice their own life and the lives of their family?" the show host asked.

Sharif replied, "Of course we can deter them if there is a proper mechanism in place and if there are courts in place to deal with these matters."

Talking about Pakistan’s firm stance on military courts, he added: "I openly admit that we had military courts, and that 170 militants were convicted and some of them were even sentenced to death."

"I must admit also that the military courts were the need of the hour, in those unusual times that unusual arrangement was required, and of course now we see deterrence for those who are slowly getting indoctrinated," he added.

2,500 individuals have been through deradicalisation centres

Talking about Pakistan’s ‘whole country’ approach, he said that since Operation Zarb-i-Azb began, 2,500 individuals have been through seven deradicalisation centres run by the Pakistan Army in the country.

Talking about the military operation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, he told the audience that over 300,000 families were moved out of an 8,000 square kilometre area.

“We then carried out the operation [to cleanse the area of terrorists] and I am happy to announce that 90 per cent of those families have now returned to their homes in the area," Sharif said.

"We have provided those families with better schools and health facilities now, so it was not only an operation, it was a whole concept that was carried out to rid the area of terrorism and control extremism," he told the audience.

'The destiny of Pakistan and Afghanistan is linked'

Answering a question about dealing with terrorists when sympathisers exist within the population giving them shelter, Raheel Sharif said, "Circumstances in Pakistan are difficult and there are a number of challenges, for example we have over 3 million Afghan refugees and they have been living in Pakistan for the last over 30 years.

"We have a 2,400-km-long porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. We have inter-tribal linkages and there are villages which are divided [between the two countries] in the sense that you can have dinner in one house and lunch in the other on the other side of the border."

"Pakistan has dealt with [these circumstances] and when we started Operation Zarb-i-Azb we decided that we will establish the writ of the government in all these areas and now it has been established in the whole of Pakistan,” he added.

"There are difficulties on the other side; there are pockets in Afghanistan where a lot of these organisations still exist. So the situation is also dependant on Afghanistan so we also hope that stability returns to Afghanistan as it is our brotherly country. Ours and Afghan destiny is linked and we feel that the moment stability returns to Afghanistan things would improve," Sharif concluded.


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Comments (80) Closed

Indian muSLIM Jan 17, 2017 10:02pm

Well Said Sir. You are the Role model and a Par of excellence as an Army Chief for the other Army Chiefs in the world.

Tanvir Jan 17, 2017 10:11pm

Fighting corruption, poverty and illiteracy also needs to be done on a global basis? These are the sources of terrorism by the deprived masses.

sangun Jan 17, 2017 10:09pm

Who needs his help?

AHSAN AYAZ Jan 17, 2017 10:09pm

that lion's roar......realy v need comprehensive strategy over terrorism without waiting any tragedy....

Jaleel Jan 17, 2017 10:13pm

I hope he includes Iran in the global community.

rashid nasim Jan 17, 2017 10:18pm

I wish General all the best in life. Great man and great honor for the country.

Rohin Jan 17, 2017 10:18pm

good to talk post tenure.

Adnan Jan 17, 2017 10:32pm

General you are a true ambassador, people like you can highlight the fact it is Pakistan who is fighting the evil of terrorism to save the world.

altaf rahman Jan 17, 2017 10:40pm

The speech of the brave and fearless general at Devos reninded us his bold initiative which he took against the militants in 2014,when no one could imagine that the virus of terrorism will ever be perished from our country. The nation will always remember his indelible services regarding the extermination of terrorism. ..The government should seek guidance from this gifted general especially in strategic matters. ..

Dr Afridi Jan 17, 2017 10:42pm

Good that 8000 sq km cleared. Let us cleanup the rest once and for all

Zak Jan 17, 2017 10:40pm

A world respected military leader. We lead where others fear to tread and we prevail.

altaf rahman Jan 17, 2017 10:48pm

The speech of the brave and fearless general at Devos reninded us his bold initiative which he took against the militants in 2014,when no one could imagine that the virus of terrorism will ever be perished from our country. The nation will always remember his indelible services regarding the extermination of terrorism. ..The government should seek guidance from this gifted general especially in strategic matters. ..

Hafeez, Canada Jan 17, 2017 11:03pm

Thank you Raheel Sharif for all your efforts to combat terrorism.

TAHIR Hussain NJ Jan 17, 2017 11:14pm

Excellent! Sometime we don't have to tell anything meaningful to international audience. They know all about us.

Irfan Rahim Jan 17, 2017 11:22pm

Fully agreed. He is a great global ambassador of Pakistan. He must represent Pakistan at other forums. Please kindly keep religion out of it.

Gulfraz Jan 17, 2017 11:28pm

Well said General

elli Jan 17, 2017 11:57pm

Great general

Sandhu Jan 18, 2017 12:02am

When history will be written we all will be giving testimony that General Raheel Sharif was the man who rescued Pakistan when we all were hopeless.

fahd Jan 18, 2017 12:01am

great men talk about ideas. Well done Raheel shareef. Another great idea from you .

Saleem khan Jan 18, 2017 12:21am

Very true Sir

khanki-71 Jan 18, 2017 12:34am

Very true!!! Before that pakistani LEA's do that and all the LEA's must work under the constitution. After that will talk the rest of the world.

Hamaad Jan 18, 2017 12:30am

Proud of you General (Retd) Raheel Sharif

Ahmed baloch Jan 18, 2017 12:34am

We salute u General,Hope u are back into mainstream. Kh

Mr.T Jan 18, 2017 01:29am

i hope they listen it and act, but the trust and interests are priority comes between like always.

HassanJ Jan 18, 2017 01:41am

Hero of our nation!

kashmiri Eagle Jan 18, 2017 03:14am

well said sir

Azad kashmir Jan 18, 2017 03:19am

Great work General! All the Muslims around the world look up to you, not just Pakistan and Kashmir!

Dott.Rathore --Middle East. Jan 18, 2017 06:01am

our proud

Dott.Rathore --Middle East. Jan 18, 2017 06:02am

our real hero

Sk Jan 18, 2017 06:23am

How can he say this with a straight face

cONCERNED CITIZEN Jan 18, 2017 06:41am

Well said General then lets start this from South Asia.

maverik Jan 18, 2017 06:53am

Pride of Pakistan.

A Jan 18, 2017 07:19am

This is the only way to deal with the menace But mutual trust and confidence is lacking amongst the countries suffering from this.

Pathanay Khan Jan 18, 2017 07:33am

You make us proud sir. The will that you had in countering Pakistan's problems has taken this nation way ahead of where we were.

Devine truth Jan 18, 2017 07:39am

Look who is talking!!

Expert Jan 18, 2017 07:59am

@sangun - None.

Reena Khan UAE Jan 18, 2017 08:03am

Please talk less, do more. Talking is meaningless without doing anything.

Bobby Jan 18, 2017 08:07am

General is making a general speech?

mumbai victims parents Jan 18, 2017 08:54am

Lets hope and start believing Mr Raheel statement on terrorism this time around.

Sohail Gem Jan 18, 2017 09:03am

ThankYouRaheelSharif #ThankYouPakArmedForces

Pakistan zindabad

Sajjad haider Jan 18, 2017 09:12am

The reality in the world now,sharing is important..

KB Jan 18, 2017 09:29am

@Sangun...So why world is asking him...and please grow up.

Good Point Jan 18, 2017 09:40am

Our PM is also saying the same. Can we start with India Pak together fighting terror?

Khalil Jan 18, 2017 09:56am

Great Man.

ManN Jan 18, 2017 10:02am

@Good Point Sooner than later. I hope one day we have joint task force to fight terror and share intelligence.

Abdullah Jan 18, 2017 10:11am

That Lion Roar!!! Whole world welcoming him.... I'm sure nobody in the world interested to know the views of our politicians.

Abdullah Jan 18, 2017 10:09am


D.K. PAMNANI Jan 18, 2017 10:14am

Sharing of intelligence is good step but lack of belief and doubts on each other.

Suma Jan 18, 2017 10:26am

First time some saner words....

a pakistani Jan 18, 2017 10:33am

If there's one man who i truly looked up to in Pakistan's governing circles, it's Raheel Sharif.

Riz Hassan Jan 18, 2017 10:47am

I think we should give some credit to Gen Kiyani,whose hardwork in SWA and Swat give Raheel a good lanunchpad for his COAS post,we have seen more difficult intelligence war in Kiyani's tenure. Regarding Intelligence sharing ,Raheel was not in mood to share intelligence with other in the country,how can he say it is possible at international level?

NKAli Jan 18, 2017 11:01am

The real lion of Pakistan...General Raheel Sharif. Not like our empty and hollow politicians. Frankly, its good to hear from him. Salams

adnan Jan 18, 2017 11:22am

Raheel Shariff should be appointed as foreign minister

Last Word Jan 18, 2017 11:35am

General, charity begins at home.

ak Jan 18, 2017 11:39am

@sangun Man the amount of jealousy is killing me. Let the guy do what he does best. He is special, admit it. You dont have to be a Pakistani to accept that.

ali shah Jan 18, 2017 12:39pm

General(r) Raheel Sharif is one of the best personalities Pakistan has ever produced, to whom the world is looking to and giving a lot of respect and taking his of great importance as for as to root out terrosirm from the world is concerned. Raheel Sharif is our proud and we should be proud of him.

Najaf Jan 18, 2017 02:12pm

A work half done amounts to a work not should have finished what you started in Pakistan first before taking up a more lucrative opportunity abroad, IF you were a true patriot.

nabidad Jan 18, 2017 02:24pm


Ralifalak Jan 18, 2017 04:21pm

we had almost defeated terrorism in its physical state! yet to fight the core (mental) from which is still to coup harshly.

SAB Jan 18, 2017 04:30pm

Military courts should not become norm. Tragedies force us to take extreme measures as Pakistan did in the case of attack on army public school. A better way and permanent solution would be to strengthen law enforcement, and an efficient judicial system.

Junaid Jan 18, 2017 04:33pm

Spot on analysis by Gen Sharif. Terrorism is a global threat and hence required global efforts. Nations must develop networks and build institutions to address the shared threats and challenges. Especially, on sharing the intelligence, also its high time to educate the general public about the threats and methods.

Junaid Iqbal MA International Relations (Leicester - UK)

zulu Jan 18, 2017 04:52pm

you did your best,


RealMan Jan 18, 2017 05:06pm

" General" the man of concrete...

lion Jan 18, 2017 05:20pm

@Reena Khan UAE :) First he Done & once finished, now he talked! For you first listen and than talk!

Jahanzeb Jan 18, 2017 05:48pm

Gen Raheel Sharif should be given a very responsible position in the government to eliminate all types of menace in Pakistan. He should be independent of any political influence and political government. If he is given five years I am sure most of the system in Pakistan will be on track.

Mansoor Ali Khan Jan 18, 2017 05:55pm

He should write a book.

Genghis Khan Jan 18, 2017 06:14pm

I can see sincerity in his words.

Zak Jan 18, 2017 06:34pm

A leader is always a leader.

Zubaida Khan Jan 18, 2017 06:34pm

I am glad that he did not dive into strategic actions. That would have given the terrorists insight into the armys tactics. Kept it general and high level.

Zia Jan 18, 2017 07:36pm

This man is unity, faith & discipline - a person who led with these three golden words, achieved wisdom. This is what is Raheel Shareef.

ghaznavi Jan 18, 2017 07:55pm

"'The destiny of Pakistan and Afghanistan is linked'"

This mindset is the biggest problem. What is our destiny linked to? violence, chaos, law of the jungle, barbaric traditions!! Even if it is linked to Afghanistan , we need to un-link it!! build a wall on the western border. Deploy troops, enforce border control and disengage from all Afghan talks or issues.

syed Jan 18, 2017 07:59pm

Well presented by our Ex Chief Retd Gen Raheel Sharif , Salute to him

Ahmad Zubair Jan 18, 2017 08:06pm

Well said. Raheel Sharif can be our very successful Foreign Minister.

kashmiri Eagle Jan 18, 2017 10:13pm

Your History will written in golden words

syed Jan 18, 2017 10:14pm

I want to see him as President of Pakistan.

Tamil Jan 18, 2017 11:13pm

General Raheel Sharif is much admired in India, despite India rhetoric. Our leaders should work out a solution to kashmir issue and have peace.

M Akram Jan 19, 2017 12:41am

Great Son of Pakistan. Let the nation similarly come together and fight against economic terrorism of the rich who have been fleecing the country for years.

AXH Jan 19, 2017 07:44am

I just watched the entire discussion on youtube and I must say that General Raheel is very well spoken.

Talha Jan 19, 2017 08:35am

@sangun The entire world which wants to see an end to terrorism is seeking Raheel Sharif's help except Ajit Doval and the Indian government

Reality Jan 20, 2017 05:33pm

I love this man...He has shown through example how leaders should be...