ISLAMABAD: The government sees Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad (RuF), the military’s counterterrorism operation that has completed its three years, as a ‘successful model’ for fighting extremism and terrorism.
“Life in the country has returned to normalcy, foreign tourists are visiting Pakistan, international sports events have returned, and Pakistan Super League, whose fifth edition is under way, is being held fully in Pakistan for the first time,” a government official said on the third anniversary of RuF that incidentally coincided with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) retaining Pakistan on its ‘grey list’ for another four months for not fully meeting the requirements agreed under the action plan for plugging loopholes in the counterterrorism financing and anti-money laundering regimes.
The official said that the progress against terrorism had been internationally acknowledged with the United Kingdom and the United States recently relaxing their travel advisories and the United Nations declaring Islamabad as a family station for its personnel posted here after evaluation of security situation. British Airways has restored its flights to Pakistan, he added.
The army had launched RuF on Feb 22, 2017, as the first countrywide counterterrorism operation, amid resurgent terrorism problem in the country that had then raised doubts about the sustainability of the successes achieved through Operation Zarb-i-Azb. The operation was started almost at the start of Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s first tenure.
The key objectives of RuF were elimination of residual/latent threat of terrorism, consolidation of gains made during counterterrorism operations so far and tightening security of the borders. The four elements of the operation, which was participated by all wings of the armed forces — paramilitary organisations, civilian law enforcement agencies and intelligence outfits — were: Operations in Punjab; continuation of operations in other parts of the country; border management; and de-weaponisation and explosive control.
Sharing the statistics of the operation, the official said that more than 149,000 intelligence-based operations were conducted, over 3,800 threat warnings were issued, and nearly 400 terrorist attacks were averted by the law enforcement agencies. Karachi, which has bettered its ranking on Crime Index due to improvement in the law and order situation, was highlighted as a major success story.
Border fencing with Afghanistan for preventing unauthorised cross-border movement by terrorists and other criminals was initiated in mid-2017 as a crucial ingredient of the strategy for ending terrorism. According to the official, so far 1,450km of the 2,611km-long porous border with Afghanistan has been fenced. A total of 843 border forts were planned out of which 343 have been completed and another 161 are under construction.
Military courts, which were initially set up under the National Action Plan in the aftermath of the Army Public School tragedy for trial of suspected terrorists, ended last year after the government failed to renew the legislation because of lack of political consensus. The official said that the military tribunals convicted 344 of terrorism and sentenced them to death, while another 301 were handed down varying jail terms. Five others were, meanwhile, acquitted.
The director of Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies Amir Rana said the government needs to put additional focus on counterterrorism efforts.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020