Al Qaeda: Breaking the backbone
By Raven Gale
Many people in Pakistan and across the world question the very existence of Al Qaeda. They claim that it is a complete fabrication. Muslims think that it is West’s plot to capture Muslim territories to disarm them and takeover their resources. There might be some truth in it but 99% is pure hysteria and propaganda. There should be no doubt that a terror organization exists and it is targeting innocent people across the world. This organization has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity. Al Qaeda may have started as a fake entity but today it is very much a reality. It may have been created by secret services but today many terror outfits are using its name to achieve their objectives. It is today a "generic" name being used by different groups with varying agendas to recruit young, depressed, unemployed, poverty stricken and easily influenced people to carry out terrorist activities.
US, NATO, Afghan National Army and Pakistan Army are battling these groups of militants at multiple fronts. Pakistan has been severely affected by this wave of terrorism. It is because of its own faulty policies in the past that such groups were able to create their strongholds in its territories. But today Pakistan is adamant on destroying this terror network once and for all. US support in this regard is commendable and people of Pakistan have realized the hazards of religious extremism. Today USA is being recognized as a friend in Pakistan. Apart from few failing religious and political parties, most people realize how crucial US support is to win this battle.
USA has made a long term commitment in Pakistan not only in the defense sector but also in energy, agriculture, education, medical and mining sectors. Today, world's focus is on Pakistan to destroy all terrorist camps within its territory. Pakistan Army is successfully advancing and dismantling terror networks of TTP (Tehrik - e - Taliban Pakistan). Several hundred foreign and local militants along with their leaders have been killed or captured. Vast networks of tunnels used by these terrorists to hide and operate have been destroyed. A network of suicide bombing group has been exposed and destroyed.
With support from our neighbors in the west (Afghanistan) and on the east (India), we will definitely be able to overcome this menace. Pakistan and India have already started sharing intelligence information on various terrorist networks. This is proving very useful for both countries. If the governments stand united then these militant groups will not be able to create misunderstandings between the nations.
Al Qaeda has some key advantages in this war. Although US - NATO forces have superior weaponry and military hardware, they also have to bear the high costs involved in the usage, and transportation of such sophisticated equipment. Al Qaeda on the other hand uses locals of the areas they operate from, they use light weaponry (ideal in guerrilla warfare), such weapons are low cost, easy to carry and usually manufactured indigenously.
Al Qaeda also doesn't have any fixed bases. This means that they have freedom to operate from multiple points and shift their location swiftly. Al Qaeda links itself to small radical extremist groups and vice versa (Small radical extremist groups attach themselves to Al Qaeda). Such partnership works well for both sides.
US - NATO forces have to go through long negotiations with governments before they can form alliances. In Pakistan we have seen US (CIA - Xe) conducting drone attacks against militants. This may prove useful on one end but at the same time it creates anti-US sentiments in Pakistan. Why? Because USA is attacking local villages of Pakistan. Targets in these attacks might not be local Pakistanis but attacks are within the Pakistan's territory.
So basically Al Qaeda uses people and propaganda to create anti-Western sentiments and recruits warriors from the local tribes. West tries to please the governments and rich (elites) of affected countries to get favours. This creates and rift between the masses and the elite. This serves Al Qaeda well.
USA has realized this flaw in their policies and are working hard to rectify it. Today, USA is reaching out to the masses and common people in Pakistan. We have seen several US high officials visit downtrodden areas of Pakistan and talk to the common people. Hilary Clinton made a very successful visit to Pakistan and managed to reach out to the youth of the country. She conveyed America’s long term commitment to Pakistan and accepted America’s errors in the past.
As for the drone attacks in Pakistan, well, that is something that can’t be stopped. Pakistan’s government has to accept that these drone attacks are extremely useful in dismantling and eliminating the top leadership of the terrorist networks. Drone attacks also help Pakistan Army in accomplishing their ground offensives. In fact, most of the drone attacks are conducted based on joint intelligence sharing. Once the top leadership has been destroyed in a drone attack, Pakistan ground forces launce their offences on the leader-less Talibans. This air-ground attack strategy is working well and great results have been achieved.