Pakistan’s use of terrorism as a foreign policy tool has neutralised the potency of the SCO to effectively tackle this menace at the regional level
RATS began joint exercises to strengthen the SCO’s counterinsurgency and counterterrorism grid by training armed forces in tactical counterterrorism operations.The Shanghai Five was formed in 1996 by Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. By July 1998, the group prioritised the joint fight against “separatism, extremism, and terrorism” emanating from the Af-Pak region. In 2001, with the inclusion of Uzbekistan, the multilateral organisation of the Shanghai Five was renamed the SCO. During the opening remarks in 2001, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan called Afghanistan the “cradle of terrorism”. The growing anti-terrorism convergence in the SCO region was consolidated and institutionalised under Regional Anti-Terrorists Structure (RATS) in 2001. Based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, RATS created a joint formation system to respond to the global threat of terrorism and extremism and assist member countries in the preparation of counterterrorism measures. RATS began joint exercises to strengthen the SCO’s counterinsurgency and counterterrorism grid by training armed forces in tactical counterterrorism operations. Between 2011 and 2015, RATS helped the SCO region to prevent 20 terror attacks and 650 terror-related crimes, neutralised 1,700 extremists, and arrested 2,700 terrorists.
Islamabad even divided insurgents based on its needs and allowed some groups to operate freely while cracking down on others like Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).Pakistan has also used state-sponsored terrorism against and supported radical elements in Eurasia. After 2002, Pakistan helped the Taliban against the liberal United States (US)-backed government in Afghanistan that was seen as closely aligned with India. The Pakistani security establishment and government helped the Taliban with human resources and donations via religious groups. Islamabad also accused the US-backed, India-friendly Afghan government of facilitating proxy wars within Pakistan. By July 2021, Pakistan had sent more than 10,000 terrorists to help the Taliban seek strategic depth against India in the region. Islamabad even divided insurgents based on its needs and allowed some groups to operate freely while cracking down on others like Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Pakistani agencies and Islamist groups also distorted hadith sayings and traditions attributed to Prophet Mohammad to propel great battles in the Indian subcontinent, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, and Afghanistan. From 1989, Islamabad used the war-hardened Afghan mujahideen and home-bred radicalised jihadis for terror-related activities in the Kashmir Valley and other parts of India. After 2017, the number of Pakistani terrorists killed in J&K is shown in the table:
|Year||Number of terrorists killed in J&K||Pakistan-born terrorists killed in J&K|
The use of terrorism as a foreign policy tool by Pakistan has made peace a forgone dream in Eurasia and has neutralised the potency of the SCO to tackle this menace at the regional level effectively.The use of terror groups and terrorists for regional influence has also had disastrous consequences on internal peace in Pakistan. As the Taliban returned to power in 2021 after the withdrawal of US-led NATO troops, Pakistan saw this new regime as a close ally; however, it proved otherwise than Islamabad was expecting. The TTP has increased offensives inside Pakistan because of the nuanced state policy towards terrorism. From August 2021 to August 2022, there were 250 terror attacks in Pakistan in which as many as 433 people were killed. In 2020-2021, Pakistan saw 165 attacks that killed 294 people. In January this year, more than 100 people, mostly police officials, were killed in a mosque by terrorists. The use of terrorism as a foreign policy tool by Pakistan has made peace a forgone dream in Eurasia and has neutralised the potency of the SCO to tackle this menace at the regional level effectively. Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, had said that Pakistan must not “keep snakes in its backyard” and “expect them to only bite” its neighbour. Despite the international shame of being grey listed twice by FATF, Pakistan’s direct and indirect support of terrorism continues unabated. Unlike the FATF, the SCO has no international authority to call out and penalise Pakistan for its actions. With increasing divergence and mistrust among member states and the inclusion of rogue nations like Pakistan, the SCO could become a toothless tiger regarding state-sponsored terrorism. Additionally, some SCO member countries have used a narrow approach towards terrorism to settle scores with the West to make the region's security more fragile. Growing narcoterrorism and state-sponsored terrorism will haunt the SCO region and Eurasia and render the SCO’s efforts to tackle rising terror threats at the regional level ineffective.
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Ayjaz Wani (Phd) is a Fellow in the StrategicRead More +