Daesh-Khorasan can’t be overpowered without the support of locals
Brutal Daesh attacks in Pakistan’s former tribal areas keep highlighting the need for a robust and consistent strategy of how to deal with its menace and terror. Although there were huge concerns raised in the wake of the attack late last month that killed 55 participants in a political party meeting, the issue of confronting the attackers keeps losing its urgency after the fact.
This is the entire security dilemma facing Pakistan today. There are statements of defiance and vows to eliminate terrorism and then relapse into more mundane matters. For any policy to work effectively and deliver, there has to be consistency in approach and a determination to identify and take on the militant group. That is critically absent.
Daesh-Khorasan took root in Eastern Afghanistan around 2012. The group began to recruit volunteers- offering incentives. Many people, mostly the poor, began to embrace the new entity hoping that the affiliation would bring them good fortune. But it was a fantasy, as after the initial excitement, people left in hordes-- having been disillusioned with the campaign of terror that targeted innocent people.
People in the border areas are sick of continuing insecurity, frequent attacks, the rising scale of murders following the merger of the area, and the dismantling of the old systems of administration.
Rustam Shah Mohmand
But there are remnants of Daesh who are desperate to cause as much damage as possible before they are overpowered and finished. Pakistan has to deal with these desperate elements now when they see no escape route. Because the border management is still weak and lacking focus, members of Daesh succeed in crossing over despite the border having been completely fenced. This is puzzling for Islamabad, because an astounding amount, in millions of dollars, were invested in fencing the long border. The fencing has made life difficult for people living on both sides of the border and trade also came to a standstill, aggravating poverty in the entire area. But the real aim of preventing the entry of militants into Pakistan, it seems, has not been achieved.
The problem is Daesh followers speak the same language as the locals, are from the same area, can mix with the local population and get lost in hundreds of thousands of people on both sides of the border. They remain in contact with one another and plan attacks with their dwindling resources and fast disappearing cadres. They are waging a war on the Taliban and all those who are in some ways providing help to them.
In such a scenario, the role of intelligence agencies becomes crucial. Luckily, they can rely on a large number of people who provide critical information at the right time. Handled with competence and commitment, this information could be vital in dealing with the menace that Daesh poses to the area.
People in the border areas are sick of continuing insecurity, frequent attacks, the rising scale of murders following the merger of the area, and the dismantling of the old systems of administration. There is helplessness as security continues to deteriorate in the area.
These people will fully support any move or action that would weaken the ability and capacity of militant outfits to kill innocent people. It is time the government makes a reappraisal of policy and delivers a new package of laws compatible not only with the dictates of justice but also the aspirations of the people. The truth is, that only with the people of these borderlands fully on board, can the administration deliver peace and security, and be rid of Daesh.
- Rustam Shah Mohmand is a specialist of Afghanistan and Central Asian Affairs. He has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan and also held position of Chief Commissioner Refugees for a decade.