Public Unity and Solidarity with Armed Forces to Combat the Menace of Terrorism
By: Laila Sadaf
A nation stands strong and buoyant to the odds of hostile external forces, when its public provides a firm commitment of solidarity with their security forces. It can have a significant impact on national security and stability of a state. When the public shows support for their security forces, it helps to build a sense of national unity and resilience, which can deter external and internal threats to the country’s security.
Moreover, constant public support with security forces can help build trust and cooperation between law enforcement agencies and communities they serve. It can help institutions to prevent radicalization of ideologies, multicultural differences and check the recruitment of individuals into extremist organizations, as well as provide valuable intelligence and information about security threats.
In the prevailing digital age, information warfare and propaganda have become powerful tools in shaping public opinion and influencing national security. Information warfare refers to the use of information technology to disrupt, manipulate, or deceive an adversary’s perception of reality. Thus Pakistan has been severely encountered with the menace of propaganda and disinformation pertaining to its armed forces.
Recently on social media smear campaign had started against the Pakistan Army after an Army Aviation helicopter went missing in Lasbela during a relief operation in flooded areas. That anti state trend was stoking the speculations that the helicopter crash was orchestrated through conspiracy by the country’s security establishment, which has created a mild social unrest and feeling of suspicious among masses in regards to the role of army as an apolitical and defender state body, providing opportunity to the rival state to further deepens the gap between public and armed forces and tragic the state institutions.
Thus, Public solidarity with security forces needs to be established to counter the narrative of extremist groups that try to exploit public grievances and vulnerabilities of state institutions and push for their agenda. When the public stands together against such groups, it sends a strong message to the rival forces that their ideology is not welcome in the country and will not be tolerated.
We have witnessed Empires shattering into a pile of sand with the same reason that their civilian masses stood against their own state guardian: that is armed forces. The country has been embroiled in a devastating civil war since long with multiple state and non-state armed forces combating against each other. Syria has become a battle ground for foreign proxies and the situation is worse for civilians who resisted and stood against its own state’s military authority.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is again facing significant threats to its internal security from factions of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups, including an affiliate of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Although attacks have slowed in previous years due to the staunching efforts and sacrifices of armed forces, yet the TTP and sectarian militant groups are once again seen to be resurging in various districts of Pakistan, particularly Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to target security forces and civilians.
In January 2023, a suicide bomber attacked a Peshawar mosque targeting the police personnel in particular, killing at least 100 people and wounding more than 200 who had gathered to worship. The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) initially claimed responsibility for the attack, but later on a TTP spokesperson has denied their involvement. The bombing: one of Pakistan’s deadliest in recent years has renewed fear among masses of a return of militancy in the region.
In order to purge the existing perils of terrorism from Pakistan there is a dire need to establish an inclusive environment among civil masses and armed forces. A state can only defeat its external enemies when it was kept strong internally, therefore, public needs to think twice and reflect critically on social media trends in this age of information warfare. It is high time that Pakistan civil society needs to be made aware to 5th generation warfare so they could avoid falling into these deadly traps of emotional and psychological exploitation against armed forces.
Furthermore, state institution as well as public need to show their complete solidarity with their state guardians and acknowledge their unparalleled efforts to bring enemies to their knees. In the spirit of above, Pakistan Business Forum has expressed complete solidarity with Pakistan valorous armed forces and law enforcing agencies and said that the entire business community stands united against war on terror and any external threat besides creating business-friendly environment fully ensuring durable security for economic growth across the country.
In addition to that Central Apex Committee held a meeting to discuss the recent terrorist activities across Pakistan and PM Shehbaz opined that all political-religious parties’ leadership irrespective of their political, religious and linguistic ideologies should stand united to win the fight against terrorism. It is time for forging national unity against the brooding threat of terrorism and all the stakeholders should keep aside their differences and sit together to wipe out the roots of hostile foreign forces in its all forms and manifestation.
The committee further held that, the elimination of terrorism; economic recovery and political stability are interlinked. Pakistan cannot afford internal instability as it would provide opportunity to violent non-state actors to realize their writ. That is why national unity and collective struggle are the need of the hour. In order to achieve these goals, a national consensus should be created, addressing the grievances of public and obstacles should be removed by creating unity among state institution and major political parties.