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EDITORIAL: The US State Department’s perspective on terrorism in Pakistan remains bereft of the whole truth, yet it is welcomed as it shares with Islamabad its concern to get rid of this menace.

The department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2021 goes into some detail about the resurgence of terrorism in the country and warns that Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) wants to push government out of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to establish Sharia.

It also believes, and rightly so, that quite a few other terrorist outfits, particularly Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Islamic State-Khorasan group (IS-K), are equally active on the ground. But the report makes it a point to express regret that in negation of Pakistan’s pledge to ensure that armed militias do not function, the ‘’India-focused’’ militant groups, particularly the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, continued to operate in 2021.

Only ‘’meagre progress’’ in implementation of its 2015 National Action Plan to counter terrorism was made.

Given that there is a link between terrorism and lack of economic activities, the report points out that ‘’the United States aids Pakistan to support trade and economic growth’’ and supports people-to-people exchanges to alleviate misunderstandings and complications in the bilateral relationship.

Washington’s cooperation with Islamabad on regional security and counter-terrorism and Pakistan’s commitment to combat development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) are also among the highlights of the State Department’s report.

To establish Sharia in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is indeed the TTP’s objective, but inhabitants of the province being practicing Muslims there are not many buyers of that mantra. They see the TTP militants as a power-hungry beast to whom human life has no value and shedding innocent blood is a matter of no regret.

In the 1990s, Sufi Muhammad also worked on the same lines under the guise of putting into effect Tehreek-e-Nefaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi in Dir, Swat and Malakand districts, but couldn’t win over people and gradually disappeared from the scene.

But for the safe havens the TTP militants enjoy in the border areas of Afghanistan they are only a day’s meal for Pakistan’s security forces. And as for the Balochistan Liberation Army the US State Department would like to know, if it doesn’t already, that it is the cat’s paw and the cat is India.

Kulbhushan Jadhav, a senior officer of Indian navy, was arrested in 2016 as he was on an espionage mission in Balochistan. He is no more active, but the network he put on ground mainly sought to disrupt the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The State Department may like to say something more on that even when it is shy of conceding India as the region’s most prolific instability monger.

The call for ‘Sindhu Desh’ emanated from New Delhi and it is India that wants to foment instability in the region by staging false flag missions against Pakistan.

The United States may like to see the Let and JeM as reaction to India’s adventures against Pakistan– and not through its geostrategic lens.

Having been the erstwhile Soviet Union’s proxy in this part of the world for more than half a century it now sits on the American lap and closely shares Washington’s anti-China’s worldview.

Naturally, the State Department report tends to see Pakistan at fault in its conception and struggle against terrorism.

A more independent reporting on the subject of terrorism in Pakistan would definitely help the Pakistanis see America as its well-wisher and friend, as should be the case.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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