In a nation where resilience and unity are paramount, the 259th Corps Commanders’ Conference recently convened, bringing together the country’s top military leaders to reaffirm their steadfast commitment to safeguarding national security and advancing economic prosperity. General Syed Asim Munir, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), presided over this crucial gathering, setting the stage for a comprehensive discussion on a range of critical issues.
The conference commenced with a solemn tribute to the supreme sacrifices of Pakistan’s heroes – the Shuhadas. These brave men and women, including officers and men of the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement Agencies, and devoted citizens, laid down their lives to ensure the safety, security, and territorial integrity of our beloved country. Fateha, a heartfelt prayer, was offered in their memory, reiterating Pakistan’s enduring respect and dignity for these fallen heroes. This poignant moment underscored the conference’s first item on the agenda – a poignant reminder of the profound significance of preserving the dignity, honor, and respect of our Shaheeds.
The second major pledge emanating from the conference focused on the unwavering commitment to defend Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It emphasized the critical need to thwart ‘inimical propagandists’ whose desperate attempts seek to sow discord between state institutions and the public. These efforts, indicative of mounting desperation, were recognized for what they are – potential sources of humiliation for those seeking to undermine the nation’s unity.
While the conference did not explicitly name these ‘inimical propagandists,’ reading between the lines suggests they could be of various backgrounds, including a few serving and retired army officers and their close relatives. It’s worth noting that the army has already undertaken stringent accountability measures, purging elements detrimental to the unity between the public and the armed forces.
In addition to internal accountability, state institutions have been actively pursuing politicians, particularly those affiliated with the PTI, who have sought to create divisions. Properties have been attached, individuals have been declared proclaimed offenders, and legal actions have been initiated against those responsible. This conference sent a clear message that such pursuits will continue, and those involved can anticipate further repercussions.
The conference also delivered a stern warning to those unscrupulous elements propagating relentless, false, and fabricated narratives against the armed forces. Through various media outlets, both conventional and social, these elements have sought to tarnish the reputation of Pakistan’s armed forces. The conference unequivocally asserted that such actions will not go unpunished. It was a resounding message to the propagandists: desist from creating divisions between the public and the armed forces, or be prepared to face the consequences.
The third agenda item tackled the pressing issue of countering terrorism, particularly threats emanating from Afghanistan, specifically from Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). This terrorist organization, known for its ruthless tactics and anti-government stance, has found sanctuary across the border in Afghanistan. It continues to launch lethal attacks on Pakistan’s security forces and innocent citizens with impunity.
Despite this provocation, Pakistan’s security forces have displayed considerable restraint due to strategic considerations, seeking to avoid an escalation of hostility with the Afghan government. However, the conference made it abundantly clear that this restraint should not be misconstrued as weakness.
The security forces pledged to counter the terrorist threat comprehensively. This includes launching relentless intelligence-based operations to eliminate TTP’s sleeper cells, abettors, and facilitators within Pakistan. Additionally, border vigilance along the 2,500-kilometer-long porous borders will be strengthened, and rapid security force units will be deployed to neutralize threats swiftly. The conference also emphasized the importance of safeguarding strategic national and public assets.
The conference recognized that addressing the TTP menace requires a two-pronged approach. First, kinetic power must be employed to counter immediate threats. Second, a long-term strategy is essential, involving education, job opportunities, and socioeconomic development in areas vulnerable to TTP recruitment.
Negotiation attempts have proved futile, leading to a clear understanding that decisive action is necessary. Pakistan’s armed forces are spearheading efforts to prevent violent extremism by empowering local communities and their partners at the grassroots level. This approach includes sharing information about the threat of radicalization, strengthening cooperation with local law enforcement agencies, and helping communities protect themselves against extremist propaganda, particularly online.
The conference between the lines emphasized that countering TTP’s hateful ideology is not solely the government’s responsibility. Local communities, with their intimate knowledge of their regions, are best positioned to lead these efforts. It was heartening to note that people in former FATA, KP province, and northern areas have consistently condemned terrorism, collaborated with law enforcement to prevent terrorist attacks, and developed innovative programs to shield their loved ones from TTP’s deadly ideology.
Additionally, the government and law enforcement agencies are actively building expertise to prevent violent extremism. This involves ongoing research and analysis to identify, predict, and preempt new developments. It also entails close collaboration with individuals, communities, and officials on the frontlines, all working tirelessly to counter the threats that Pakistan faces.
Countering violent extremist propaganda and promoting inclusive ideals is a top priority. Efforts must actively challenge the ideologies employed by violent extremists to radicalize and recruit individuals. By confronting justifications for violence and promoting a unifying and inclusive vision of Pakistan’s ideals, we can reduce the allure of extremist ideologies.
The conference, mindful of the prevailing geo-strategic environment and the evolving threats to national security, rightly asserted that terrorists, their facilitators, and abettors, acting at the behest of hostile forces seeking to destabilize Pakistan, will face the full might of the state. This clear policy statement was eagerly awaited by the nation, underscoring the importance of resolute action.
In light of the substantial threats facing Pakistan, it is now a national duty and responsibility for every Pakistani to stand united. Whether as individuals or as a society, we must stand shoulder to shoulder with our Army Chief and the brave and professional armed forces. We must provide unwavering support – intellectual, ideological, moral, and material – without doubt or unwarranted criticism.
The threat of terrorism cannot be left solely to the armed forces to handle. It is a collective responsibility of the entire nation to support them unconditionally and holistically. By standing together, we can strengthen our resolve to combat terrorism and ensure the safety and security of our beloved Pakistan.
The fourth and equally vital pledge made during the conference was to continue wholehearted support for ongoing efforts aimed at uplifting socioeconomic growth. These efforts are channeled through the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), which encompasses various sectors, including IT, agriculture, minerals, and defense production.
Under the leadership of the Army Chief, concrete actions have been taken to translate these commitments into reality. A nationwide crackdown on hundi and hawala dealers, illegal money exchangers, and strict rules for formal currency exchange operations have been implemented. This crackdown immediately stabilized the market, leading to a significant drop in the value of the dollar and gold.
The concerted efforts to combat smuggling, hoarding, and despair-inducing narratives, along with tackling corruption and creating an environment conducive to foreign investment, have instilled confidence and stability in the market. Pakistan’s economy, poised for growth, is now on a positive trajectory.
In conclusion, Pakistan’s 259th Corps Commanders’ Conference demonstrated the nation’s unwavering resolve to combat terrorism, safeguard national unity, and promote economic stability and growth. It underscored the importance of unity in the face of adversity and collective responsibility in securing Pakistan’s future.
With a comprehensive strategy that combines kinetic and long-term solutions, Pakistan is poised to overcome its challenges and emerge stronger than ever before. The nation’s resilience and determination are the keys to a brighter future.