Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif again raised a red flag about external financing of terrorist groups and their domestic support network and called for sustained fight against terrorism. “Terrorists are being funded externally by hostile intelligence agencies and have their sympathisers at home who provide them shelter and refuge,”
Gen Sharif told corps commanders at their monthly conference that reviews internal and external security situation. This is the second time in the past seven days that Gen Sharif has called for focus on the sympathy factor for terrorists within the country.
He had pointed out the same when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited ISI Headquarters last week for a security briefing. Gen Sharif’s reiteration of the threat came on the day when the head of Intelligence Bureau, Aftab Sultan, testified before a Senate panel that local extremists had a soft corner for the militant Islamic State (IS) group, also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh, which is now considered an emerging threat for the country. It is unclear if Gen Sharif’s repeated reference to the internal threat was a prelude to start of some major crackdown on sympathisers of terrorists. There have been reports that an operation against Punjab-based extremist groups is in the offing. A prevailing perception that the National Action Plan on Counter-Terrorism is not progressing well also forms an important context of this repeated assertion.
Gen Sharif also cautioned that despite the successes in Operation Zarb-i-Azb, which has decreased the level of terrorist violence in the country, the fight is complex and far from having been won. But, at the same time, he sounded optimistic about ultimately defeating terrorism. “We will defeat the nefarious designs of our enemies and eliminate terrorists from Pakistan’s soil. Resilience of the whole nation and professionalism of our security forces are our real assets and I am optimistic that we will succeed in bringing enduring peace in Pakistan,” a statement issued by ISPR quoted Gen Sharif as saying. Military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa said the purpose of repeatedly highlighting the issue of local facilitators was to express the determination and resolve to deal with the issue of extremism and terrorism. He said that a number of facilitators had already been netted.