LONDON: Pakistan has been more successful than any other country in tackling terrorism although the fallout faced by Pakistan has been at an unprecedented scale, a senior Pakistani military officer has said.
Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security studies (RUSI) here on the topic of “Pakistan’s Fight Against Terrorism: Myths and Realities”, Colonel Zulfiqar Ali Bhatty, Army and Air Adviser to the Pakistan High Commission, spoke at length about Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and how Pakistan, despite limited resources, has not wavered at any stage and continued to gain grounds against the scourge of violent extremism.
He said that there was rise of terrorism across various parts of the world including several African and Middle Eastern countries but the clear evidence suggested that it is only Pakistan where the military has made swift and durable gains against militants, driving them out and dismantling their terrorists infrastructure. In essence, Pakistan’s western border was the only place in the world where the battle against violent extremism and terrorism was being won. It needed to be realised that the Pakistan Military was the only force that was preventing the region from descending into instability and thus needed to be supported nationally, regionally and internationally. Colonel Bhatty highlighted that the militants battling Pakistani state have ample resources and are well equipped, raising questions about their powerful backers sitting outside Pakistan and sponsoring their terrorism to destabilise Pakistan.
Bhatty said that the scourge of terrorism cannot be dealt with successfully unless a global policy and approach is adopted including choking of finances for these groups. He said that Pakistan has rendered more sacrifices than any other nation to make this world a terror-free and liveable place and there is increasing realisation in the world that Pakistan’s paradigm on fighting terrorism is the right strategy and sets out right priorities.
Colonel Bhatty, who himself has extensive experience of serving in Fata, told how Pakistan army has not only successfully routed Taliban and their allies in various areas but also ensured that the locals are benefited through massive improvement in roads infrastructure, new road links, development of new schools, repair of old schools and a renewed focus on motivating the locals to educate their children.
Colonel Bhatty said that one of the major challenges was the repatriation and rehabilitation of a large number of temporarily displaced persons and significant finances were needed for this effort where the international community could play a role. The good news was that this process has commenced in late March this year and Pakistani authorities were committed to making it a success despite the difficulties, he shared.
Colonel Zulfiqar Ali Bhatty told the audience about Pakistani sacrifices and added that over 63,000 civilians and soldiers had either been killed or injured in the fight against terrorism. Pakistan has lost over 4,500 officers and soldiers while fighting the terrorists and this was more than the combined death toll of Nato/Isaf troops in Afghanistan which stood at around 3,500, he stressed
Colonel Bhatty dismissed a recent report by Seymor Hersh as fantasy and said that his account of events was rejected by both the US andPakistani governments. He said that Seymour Hersh had been unable to corroborate his story with any convincing evidence.