Authors: Matthew Crosston & Kagusthan Ariaratnam
American political scientist Joseph Nye wrote in his famous book, “Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics,” that political or social power can influence others to get them to behave in ways that you want by either coercion and/or payment – elements of hard power – or through attraction and/or persuasion – the foundations of soft power.
While hard power apparatuses include intelligence, law, policing, and military power, which are important to safeguard a nation, soft power instruments include political, social, cultural, and economic control, together with broader policy initiatives dealing with the environment, development, critical infrastructure, migration, and humanitarian intervention. These are all aspects in which a nation’s civil society plays a significant role and are equally important, if not more so, than conventional means of hard power.
Like communism, Nazism, and fascism, terrorism – the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, to pursue political aims – is a type of ideology. An ideology is best fought with a better counter-ideology, rather than by swords and guns alone. As the great American psychologist, Abraham Maslow once wrote, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” This concept, known as the law of the instrument, is relied on too much in counterterrorism, with the hammer being military might. Today, however, there is ambiguity in how we combat terrorism effectively when facing a multipronged and multifaceted ideological enemy and it demands a new approach to traditional counterterrorist orthodoxy. In the context of the US-led “war on terror”, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) could technically eliminate some terrorist groups, religious extremists, and hard-core individuals by military might. In the long run, however, NATO will never be able to destroy ambiguous Islamic ideologies, such as Wahhabism, Salafism, or Jihadism, because an ideology is better subsumed progressively than destroyed violently.
To counter it long-term you also need to apply soft power. As Nye emphasized, “in the information age, success is not merely the result of whose army wins, but also whose story wins.” Hence, America and other Western nations should not exclusively engage ground troops and air strikes in the Middle Eastern region. Rather, U.S-led nations should turn the tables politically and diplomatically – via soft power measures – and strive to give moderate Muslims a bigger responsibility and leadership power to deal with the proportionally small percentage of the population that embraces violent extremism. In this way, the West can attempt to avoid the current struggle being characterized exclusively across the Greater Middle East region as a narrative of Christians against Muslims. This debased narrative only feeds into the extremists’ ideology. By training and “arming” moderate Muslims to combat regional terrorism effectively and strategically with soft power Islamic cultural tools, the West can counter the damaging narrative of Crusade versus Jihad, while still having its comforting “hammer” at the ready. Ultimately, the Western diplomatic community has to craft a winning counter-narrative comprised NOT just of Western liberal values and morals, but it must find connective diplomatic bridges with moderate Islamic parties (bridges that legitimately give Islamists a leadership role and executive management of the narrative). This will allow both sides to portray a partnership that gives dignity, soft power responsibility, and global legitimacy to the Islamist side of the team. This has so far been relatively absent from Western counterterrorist strategies.
The idea of applying soft power within hard power counterterrorism strategy is indeed something that could be seen by many as counter-intuitive. However, my co-author’s personal experience in Sri Lanka vividly shows how the possibility exists. When living in Sri Lanka during times of great ethnic conflict – early 1990s – Ariaratnam was manipulated and forced by the Tamil Tigers to enlist in their militia. Kidnapped from high school and forced to fight as a child soldier with the Tamil Tigers, he rose quickly through the ranks to become an intelligence officer, working closely with Tamil leadership. Personal relationships that went outside the Tamil Tigers’ ‘code of conduct’ exposed Ariaratnam to the semi-forced opportunity to work for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the Indian government’s foreign intelligence agency. Eventually he managed to defect to the Sri Lankan security forces in the summer of 1995. He surrendered with invaluable information that was used against the Tamil Tigers and helped dismantle their operations domestically and internationally. The terrorist organization was militarily defeated in May 2009. Working with the intelligence services of the Sri Lankan government, Ariaratnam was a great asset and tremendous source of information for the government of Sri Lanka, someone who knew the modus operandi of the Tigers.
After he was forcibly recruited by extremists, he was not allowed to listen to cultural entertainment of any kind. The Tigers also did not allow cadres to fall in love. Their doctrine was that since you are born to die, then you might as well die nobly as a martyr to your country, allowing no frivolity to distract you. But Ariaratnam was deeply moved and influenced by the positive themes of love, camaraderie, and peace found in South Indian popular culture, especially the music of A.R. Rahman. When A.R Rahman’s first hit album ‘Roja’ came out, Ariaratnam could not resist secretly going to his home and listening to it. Rahman’s music is a beautiful combination of Western and Eastern fusion and it was what made Ariaratnam risk aiding Indian intelligence against the extremism of the Tamil Tigers. When young constructs would leave the camps, they would hear this music in the air, while in the newspapers they would read about cinema and entertainment. They grew tired of listening to Tamil Tiger news about war, sacrifice, and death. It could be legitimately said that south Indian popular culture, especially local music, saved Ariaratnam’s life: it proved more powerful than the Tamil Tigers’ deliberate ideological brainwashing.
This matters when we consider cultural soft power counterterrorism because in order to sustain their totalitarian ideology and propaganda, terrorist organizations like the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), are all maniacally violent toward civil society-driven soft power instruments, such as art, social media, popular culture, music, and entertainment. These soft power avenues are radically blocked from people under the dictatorship of these groups. This soft power war is the war that terrorists do not want and really cannot win. But the West fights this war from a Western-dominated perspective that is inefficient and somewhat culturally arrogant. Soft power does not have to always mean the inculcation of ‘western’ culture into the counterterrorist fight. There are local versions of cultural soft power that can be deeply impactful, powerful instruments that move people to fight despotism. Rock and roll music may have successfully been a soft power element that intrigued the Soviet people and undermined the idea of communism, but that does not mean one defeats radical Islamist ideology only with Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. If the Western-moderate Muslim partnership is truly built with shared power and leadership, then the expansion and applicability of cultural soft power tools will be monumental. And those tools will often need to be non-Western.
To combat terrorism smartly in today’s global information age, nations must backstop and infuse conventional hard power tactics with more flexible and cunning cultural soft power strategies. In other words, countries should apply FUSED military and non-military strategies, very much in the way that Ariaratnam lived part of his young life in Sri Lanka. To date the West embraces both versions in battling counterterrorism, but those approaches tend to be distinct and isolated from each other. We must eliminate the strategy silos. Since the US-led West is confronting an unconventional and radically ideological enemy, Western nations must plan, prepare, and execute an innovative and creative strategy that is not based solely on its own concepts of culture or liberal progress. This is where the international community must come together to integrate the role of hard power and soft power instruments as a new innovative core of counterterrorist smart power. If this new partnership can be created it will be paramount in winning the hearts and minds of the Greater Middle East, the majority of which is indeed moderate but is still justifiably fearful to be anything but silent about extremism.
(*) Dr. Matthew Crosston is Vice Chairman of Modern Diplomacy and member of the Editorial Board at the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.
Pathology of a soft war with Iran in cyberspace
The soft -war against Iran is a fact that all the scholars acknowledge. In fact, the main and hidden purpose of the soft -war is to disrupt the information system of the countries and to influence the public opinion of the countries. Cybercrime is today in the cyberspace community. With this regard, what is the position of cyber space in this media and cyber campaign?
The soft -war is a kind of conflict between countries, which is dominated by content, programs and software, mainly from the media. In fact, any confrontation between countries or groups those are rival or hostile to each other, in which media, cyber and software tools are used is regarded as a “soft- war” in the world. In the soft- war space, the subject of rockets, guns, tanks, ships and aircraft is not the subject of satellite, Internet, newspapers, news agencies, books, movies, and cinema. Naturally, the soldiers involved in this soft -war are no longer generals, officers and military, but journalists, cinemas, artists and media actors.
Naturally, satellite TVs and radio programs within the framework of the soft -war debate are the continuation of the domination of the capitalist system and seek to secure their own interests and interests in other countries. The main purpose of these types of networks is to influence the public opinion of their target countries and to disrupt the internal information system of the countries concerned. They use several technological tools to reach their predetermined plans, goals, and scenarios. These goals can be faced with various shapes and shapes.
Soft -War has existed throughout history. Even when technological tools such as radio, television, and satellite were not available, there was a soft- war in the context of the war of thought and psychological warfare. But what’s happening now in the world is that hardware or hard-core wars have multiple implications for the invading countries. Therefore, they are trying to achieve their goals by adopting a soft war strategy alongside their hard wars either independently and only within the framework of soft- war. As time goes by, with the growth of technology and media techniques, the working methods of these networks become more complex. Naturally, the layers of the soft -war become more complex, more complete, and the recognition of these tricks becomes even harder.
In his book Soft Power, Joseph Nye introduces elements as soft power pillars, some of which are music and art. That’s also the basis of the soft warfare. In fact, music, art, university, sports, tourism, ancient artifacts, culture and lifestyle of a nation are soft power.
On this basis, there are weaknesses and weaknesses in the internal dimension. One of the most important problems and weaknesses is the inability to use all of its software capabilities in cyber warfare and public diplomacy. In the soft -war of the other faction, the group, the person, the group, the cult, and so on, does not matter. Soft- war does not know the border. Accordingly, all internal groups in this field must be activated in accordance with the guidelines of the Supreme Leader, we must have in the internal arena and in all cultural fields and “infrastructure elements” the soft- war of maximum absorption and minimal elimination, that is, from all the capacities of the system for Cultural confrontation with hostile countries.
The most basic element of soft power is the people. Social capital, public trust, public participation, public culture, public education, and finally all the things that exist in people, localism, nativeism, subcultures, and traditional cultures come from people. In fact, this is something that should be given the most concentration and attention. Using the capacity of the people to cope with these external pressures will have the greatest success.
But how should these capacities, potentials and capital of people is used? The first is used in the media. The national identity in the world is characterized by the national image, that is, the look, the imagination and the imagination that a nation makes for itself. What image do you have in your mind when you hear German or German people? When do you hear the image of the people of Afghanistan, China, Japan, or Arab countries? This is an image that is powerful in the world and talks. Inside Iran, there was a weakness in drawing this image. To create a good image of Iran, one should use the simplest tools, including practical suggestions that media like Voice and Television Organization are capable of demonstrating to the ordinary people of the community. When a tourist arrives for the first time in the country, he is surprised at the first step in entering the airport. Because he faces scenes he did not expect or in the sense of another image of Iran.
In fact, we are now in a soft- war space. Satellite, radio and television tools, along with cyber-tools, have created a full-blown war against the Islamic Republic of Iran. With the growth of technology and media techniques, the working methods of media networks become more complicated, and more complicated, more complete, and harder to know than the soft warfare. Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a good news country, but the country is not news. That is, all countries of the world receive Iran-related news on most issues and topics from countries other than us about the country. Once it has come to an end, as we resolve many of the problems in the framework of Article 44, policymakers will take steps to improve media and cyber media activities.
The following strategies can be put forward to combat soft war against Iran in cyberspace and media:
First, the establishment of the National Center for the Coordination of Soft- War is indispensable. This center is responsible for coordinating the various internal institutions in the field of countering the enemy’s soft- war and controlling, monitoring and monitoring media imaging from Iran.
Second, the launch of new media networks under the overall supervision of the audio and video, and with the production and management of the private sector is essential. These networks can informally meet the needs of people’s entertainment and information and restore the people’s confidence in the domestic media.
Third, support for the production of healthy content in cyberspace, especially native social networks, should be supported in order to defend the national interests of the country within the framework of the software movement.
Fourth, attention to the basics of soft power in the country is necessary for maximum absorption and minimal elimination. No artist should be defeated on the pretext of political orientation, the destruction of art and music and national honors, and bringing national issues into line with internal political challenges, will undermine Iran’s soft power.
Preventive Measures Against Lone Wolf Attacks During Ramadan
Chechen lone wolf’s hunting in Paris
Four days before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, Khamzat Azimov, 21, of Chechen origin, committed a terrorist attack in Paris, killing one and wounding four people.The terrorist, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” and attacked passers with a knife, was then shot and killed by the police.
The Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the operation, saying in a statement that the “attacker who stabbed multiple people in the city of Paris was a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the operation in response to the call to target coalition nations.” ISIS’ Information Agency Amaq News has released a short video presumably recorded by the attacker himself.
In his video message Azimov, whose face is covered with a black handkerchief, in a mixture of French and Arabic swears allegiance to the Islamic stateand its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.Then he addresses the supporters of the Caliphate around the world. Especially it refers to France, Germany and England, never mentioning Russia. He urged like-minded people in these and other countries of Europe to perform Hijrah (the Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Medina). He goes on to say that those Muslims who cannot perform Hijrah should start the jihad against the infidels in the territory,in which they now live.
Azimov justifies his actions by revenge for the death of like-minded people in Iraq and Syria.He stresses that the cause of his attack was the bombardment of the territories of the Islamic State by France.The Chechen terrorist repeated the thesis of the ISIS propaganda 2015 when the group tried to convey to the western audience the idea that the bombing of the territories of the Caliphate would result in attacks on the territories of the countries of the West.It should be noted that this is the standard call of the Islamic state.
In particular, the Chechen terrorist Azimov was guided by the ISIS strategic doctrine urging assassins to burrow into their adopted nations in the West and to plan complex attacks in place. This indicates that the strategic doctrine of the Islamic State Intelligence director Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who called before his death to all ISIS agents in the West to carry out attacks in the countries where they live, still continues to function effectively. “If the tyrants have closed in your faces the door of Hijrah, then open in their face the door of jihad,” said Abu Muhammad al-Adnani in his message. He recommended his supporters to attack the infidels by all means: with trucks, weapons, axes, knives, and if nothing is found, and then kill them with their bare hands.As this incident showed, a lone Wolf of Chechen descent, Azimov, was inspired by the ideology of jihadism and fulfilled the call of Al Adnani to attack unbelievers with knives on the enemy’s territory.
“Putin’s foot soldier” accuses the West of supporting ISIS
In connection with this terrorist act of many experts on counterterrorism and Islamic radicalism were surprised by the statement of the Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.In particular, in his blog in the social network “VKontakte” he accused the French authorities of radicalizing Khamzat Azimov.”In Chechnya he was only born, and growing up, the formation of his personality, his views and beliefs took place in French society. I am convinced that if he had spent his childhood and youth in Chechnya, Khamzat Azimov’s fate would have been different! “- concluded Kadyrov.
If we follow Kadyrov’s logic, then everyone who lived and was brought up in Chechnya will never embrace the path of Islamist extremism.Then how can we understand the thousands and thousands of Chechen militants of the terrorist group Caucasus Emirate, who today are fighting in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan?After all, they were born and raised in Chechnya? Despite this, they became ardent supporters of the Islamic state, Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
In the second part of his statement, Kadyrov accused the West of training ISIS militants and their support.He wrote: “Western countries have created greenhouse conditions for all those who are hostile in attitude to Russia and to Chechnya.Special services of the West prepare them for actions in the zone of armed conflicts in the Middle East, supplement them with the ranks of the Iblis state (as he calls ISIS).Khamzat Azimov had contacts with French law enforcement agencies and special services, but apparently, he came out of their control.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian answered that his country “has nothing to learn from a dictator who does not respect the rule of law, and who also knows very well that there are thousands of Chechens fighting on the side of ISIS.”
I do not want to be an arbitrator in the controversy between France’s top diplomat and “Putin’s foot soldier”.But such a populist accusation by a faithful soldier of the Kremlin of the Western countries testifies to his inferiority complex, ideological bias and the deficit of moral values. Ramzan Kadyrov, who is known for his willingness to die for Putin, for massively violating human rights in Chechnya and for physically destroying his political opponents, by his statement, brings grist to Salafi-jihadis’ mill.
The tie between Paris knife attacker and Boston bombers
Paris knife attacker Khamzat Azimov was not the first Chechen jihadist who committed a terrorist attack in the West.The world community is well aware of the other Chechen brothers Tsarnaev who organized the bombing of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.Then, as a result of the terrorist attack, three people were killed and more than 280 people were injured.After analyzing both terrorist acts in Paris and Boston, the following similar moments in the actions of Chechen lone wolves can be noted.
First, the organizers of both terrorist attacks are Chechens by nationality, who emigrated to the West along with their parents.The reason for their emigration was a complex political situation including violations of their human rights in their homeland.Compelled emigration and difficulties of adaptation in the West were the main factors of the Chechen youth’s conversion to the path of Islamic radicalism.
Secondly, the authors of both terrorist acts were in the field of view of the special services for alleged involvement in radical Islamic ideology.The French special services brought Azimov to the list of FSPRT – persons close to radical Islamist circles.FBI agents investigated the religious views of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was a danger to society but did not detain him.
Thirdly, Chechen lone wolves were infected with the ideology of jihadism via the Internet, where they studied the literature of the Salafism.The cause of the attack, they said was“revenge against infidels for air strikes of innocent Muslims by the western coalition in the Middle East and Afghanistan”.
Fourth, the world’s terrorist organizations ISIS and al-Qaeda interceded in the defense of the Chechen lone wolves.After the Paris knife attack, ISIS announced that Azimov was a soldier of the Caliphate, and the attack was organized by order of the Emir of the group.Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri warned the US of the “gravest consequences” if Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were to be executed.
Fifth, the authors of the Paris and Boston terrorist acts clearly followed the instructions of the world terrorist groups to prepare and carry out attacks on the territory of the infidels. Al-Qaeda and ISIS regularly issue practical recommendations, compilations and e-books for their supporters and lone wolves, which details the methods and ways of carrying out terrorist attacks.In July 2017 ISIS’ magazine Rumiyah published “Lone Wolf’s Handbook”, where he described in detail how to plough into a large crowd of people with a truck.
How to defend against the lone wolves attacks in the Ramadan
Recently ISIS propaganda Nashir News Telegram channels called for more lone wolf attacks during Ramadan.As know, last year during the holy month of Ramadan, jihadists attacked London, Manchester and Paris.
According to the ideologues of the Caliphate, the gate of the paradise opens for Shahids in Ramadan.Ramadan is a holy month of fasting in the Islamic calendar, in which good deeds are rewarded manifold, and bad deeds especially punished. In ISIS’s twisted interpretation of Islam, this means attacks on non-believers and apostates – which it considers ‘good’ – will be honored many times over in the afterlife.
After the loss of its territories in Syria and Iraq and defeats on the battlefield, it is important for the Islamic State to demonstrate its ability to continue the attacks.ISIS leaders try to improve their image in view of their recent losses with the help of terrorist attacks of lone wolves in the West. It is in this vein that one can analyze the knife attack of the Chechen terrorist Khamzat Azimov in Paris, who opened the hunting season during the holy month of Ramadan.Therefore, it can be expected that other “sleeping” lone wolves in Western Europe and the US will also respond to the recent calls of ISIS.
In order to better protect the people and their country from new terrorist attacks during Ramadan, counter-terrorism officers should pay attention to the following points.
First, strengthen the external and electronic surveillance of the movements of alleged Islamist radicals, who are given in the list of the special services.Daily nightly collective prayers during Ramadan are able to spiritually inspire single wolves to practice.Therefore, it is especially important to conduct daily monitoring and analysis of the internal atmosphere in mosques where emigrants from the Middle East, Central Asia and the African Maghreb perform prayers.
Second, counterterrorism officers should pay attention to the work of popular halal restaurants in the daytime.According to radical Salafi ideology, all those Muslims who do not hold fast during Ramadan commit Shirk (sin of practicing idolatry or polytheism) against Allah Almighty.Therefore, those who committed Shirk must be subjected to Takfir (excommunication, as one Muslim declaring another Muslim as a non-believer) leading up to the death penalty, ideologists of Wahhabism believe.After the terrorist attack Omar Mateen on the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, noted the victims were all in “a nightclub for homosexuals.”Another terrorist from Central Asia, Abdulkadir Masharipov, attacked the Reina nightclub in Istanbul on December 31, 2016, because Muslims celebrated there the Christian New Year. It is possible that among the lone wolves would decide to punish those Muslims with Takfir who do not fast, and who would eat at famous restaurants in the daytime during Ramadan.
Third, law enforcement should increase observation of people who are carrying any flammable liquids or LPG/propane tanks on the streets, where high numbers of people are present. Pedestrian crowded streets and central parts of cities can become possible targets for Islamist lone wolves.
Finally, to successfully confront the threat of lone wolves’ attacks during Ramadan law enforcement and homeland security officers must be able to think like lone wolf jihadists and they should be fed information by intelligence agencies, that would help them do so.
Who is behind Hazara’s Killing?
Evidently, Quetta’s Hazaras are the Mongols, who migrated from Central Asia to the Banyan District in Afghanistan. They belong to the Shia faction of Islam, Persian is their main language. Demographically, Hazaras live in three countries: Afghanistan (7-8 million); Iran (1.2 million) and Pakistan (0.7 million). In addition, a diaspora of approximately 400,000 to 500,000 is spread around in a number of Western countries. Hazaras have a long history of persecution at the hands of Afghans which dates back to 16th century. During the era of Amir Abdul Rahman (1880-1901), who is regarded as founder of modern Afghanistan, thousands of Hazaras were killed, expelled and enslaved. Almost half of the Hazara population was displaced to neighboring Baluchistan of British India and the Khorasan province in Iran. Hazaras shifted to Quetta, in numbers, from Afghanistan in 1840; and to avenge the Afghan atrocities, they joined the British army in flocks.
In 1904, the British raised an infantry unit, the “106th Hazara Pioneers”, comprising Hazara refugees in Quetta. Hazaras fought for the British during Anglo Afghan wars. Hence, they carry a historic baggage; whereby the Afghans do not tolerate their presence in Pashtun areas. Therefore, by default, it has become a fault line which can easily be triggered. And once ignited, it soon becomes self-sustaining through its own momentum and tempo. So far Hazaras have been on the receiving end; they have refrained from taking up organized armed struggle against the rival groups.
During this year, Hazaras of Quetta have been targeted mercilessly as if their lives are of no value. Earlier also, the Hazara community was hunted down, as a matter of routine. Previously, incidents were of the type of forced off-loading of Hazaras from public transport and killing them indiscriminately, like animals. Ostensibly, systematic targeting of Hazara community has many facets: local rivalries, sectarian sentiment, regional dynamics and fissures created by the Great Game. The Iranian Intelligence Agencies Itallat through its Quetta based consulate, Pasdarans (Iranians revolutionary guards) placed with Iranian Intelligence (cover) officers in Iranian Culture Centre of Quetta and Peshawar carries out discreet abortive attempts on Hazara Community thus killings scores of innocent Hazaras. Besides NDS, RAW and proscribed terrorist organizations including Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Ahle-Sunnat wal Jammat are also instrumental in Hazara’s assassinations. The land mafia / criminal elements are also involved in abductions and using coercive methods to grab valuable properties of Hazara’s spreading from Taftan border to Quetta including expensive huge warehouses in Chamman.
The facts are corroborated / substantiated by RAND (US Think Tank) scholar Christine Fair, a leading American expert on South Asia, in a American journal Foreign Affairs that Pakistan has legitimate concerns about India’s involvement in initiating unrest in Baluchistan. She contended that “Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Baluchistan.” Kabul has encouraged India to engage in provocative activities such as using the Border Roads Organization to build sensitive parts of the Ring Road and use the Indo-Tibetan police force for security. It is also building schools on a sensitive part of the border in Kunar — across from Bajaur. Kabul’s motivations for encouraging these activities are as obvious as India’s interest in engaging in them.”
Recent increase in the massacre like events have come under the backdrop of weakening of our law enforcement agencies (LEAs) through a concerted campaign of smear propaganda. This campaign was particularly focused against Frontier Corps (FC) Baluchistan. Saner voices have all along been cautioning that exclusion of “B” areas form the jurisdiction of LEAs and handing it over to Levies and Khasadars would eventually result in handing over lambs to wolves, in the rural area. Demand for withdrawal of FC from Baluchistan is aimed at driving the chaos to unmanageable heights in urban areas as well.
As a consequence of the attacks, and the alleged impunity by which they are perpetrated, a large number of Hazaras have recently taken to the streets to protest against these ruthless killings of their community members. The protest sit-in on Alamdar Road, Quetta, saw active participation of citizens representing Hazara tribe, including women, children and the elders. Jalela Advocate, who has been active in the sit-in, told the media that the people of Hazara were aspirants of a peaceful Baluchistan and a peaceful Pakistan. The protest over the recent spate of targeted killings in the city was called off only after the meeting of the leaders of Shia Hazara community with Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who gave an assurance that those behind the attacks shall suffer twice as much. As per the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), during 46 incidents of target killing and bomb blasts in Quetta from January 2012 to December 2017, up to 525 were killed while 734 were injured. Where, more than 200 people of the Hazara community were killed in only two suicide bomb attacks.
Although large-scale attacks targeting the Hazaras saw a decline after the military operations against terror, targeted killing of the community never completely ended. And this raises serious questions about the government’s seriousness ascribed to this turmoil. Tribal leader Nawabzada Haji Lashkri Raesani said, “Increase in the number of incidents of terrorism is a challenge for the state.” For the dream of a peaceful Baluchistan to materialize, politicians should unite against the ongoing oppression in the province. The underlined implication is that there cannot be a complete peace in Baluchistan if the policy of giving space to extremist groups remains in place. Apart from improving the security situation and intelligence sharing to avoid targeted attacks in Quetta, a shift in policy on state level is also needed. On the supportive side, 19 platoons of Frontier Corps (FC) were deployed in Mureeabad and Hazara Town for security of the Hazara community. Other than this, officers of the law enforcement agencies provided security to visitors travelling from Quetta to Taftan. The Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar also took suo motu notice of the Hazara targeted killings.
As COAS Genreal Bajwa said, “the state is responsible for the security of its citizens, and each and every casualty, including from the Hazara community, is of concern to us. Through a unified national effort, we have turned the tide of terrorism; however, a lot is still being done against inimical designs to reverse the gains by exploiting various fault lines.” Hence, the government should take up the responsibility of citizens and should act fast before the troublemakers’ take further advantage of the situation in Baluchistan.
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