Cherry picking will neither improve internal security, nor remove neighbors’ suspicions.
This year two of the three drone strikes by the US army were aimed at Afghan Taliban commanders living in Pakistan. The strike on Tuesday which was the latest in the series killed a senior commander belonging to Haqqani network. The presence of foreign terrorists in Pakistan is used by Afghanistan and the US to maintain that despite repeated denials Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network continue to operate from sanctuaries inside Pakistan. This is reflected in Foreign Secretary James Mattis’ testimony before a Congressional panel where the former general underlined a regional approach while formulating an Afghan policy. He particularly stressed the need to recognise “that problems that come out of ungoverned spaces, like that as we experienced on 9/11 … do not stay there. They can come home to roost here.
The IS poses a threat to the world at large including US, Russia and China. Despite some of the most horrendous terrorist attacks in Pakistan having been orchestrated and owned by the IS, the government continues to be in a state of denial about the existence of the network. This year the group launched attack at Sehwan killing about 90 and targeted Senate Deputy Chairman Abdul Ghafoor Haideri killing at least 27. It has now executed two Chinese nationals kidnapped from Quetta.
While Operations Zarb-e-Azb and Raddul Fasad have brought down the incidence of terrorism, the terrorists still constitute a serious threat to national security. Terrorist sanctuaries are not only to be eradicated but also widely recognised to have been genuinely eliminated. Unless the widespread perception of cherry picking is removed, doubts and suspicions will continue to persist between Pakistan, its neighbours and allies. Nawaz Sharif and Ashraf Ghani have agreed to revive at the quadrilateral process at their meeting on the side-lines of SCO. China has reportedly volunteered to remove the differences between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The future of these moves depends on firm and across the board action against all terrorist networks in Pakistan.