Chief of Army Staff Key Note Address – National Seminar- Deradicalization at Mingora Swat
Mingora Swat: Ladies and Gentlemen, it is indeed, an honour and privilege for me, to address this illustrious gathering, which includes guests from allied countries. Your presence in Swat is testimony to the National will and resolve against menace of terrorism and radicalism. It is also an acknowledgement of larger role the community is ready to pay consolidate Military gains.
I would like to start with brief recapitulation of the situation in Swat, as it existed in 2009. Swat was virtually lost to terrorists, writ of Govt was ceased to exist, Police and other Govt functionaries had almost stopped functioning. Public stood terrorized and powerless against the militants. Images of armed militants moving freely raised concerns regarding the Army’s capabilities and resolve to fight militants.
In order to re-establish writ of the Govt, eliminate miscreants and restore general public’s confidence, the largest Pakistani counter insurgency operation was launched by the Army, involving approximately three divisions i.e. 30,000 troops supported by Artillery, combat aviation and air force.
Largest ever helicopter borne operation on altitude of 7000 feet was conducted in Peochar, an inaccessible mountainous area, not far from where we are sitting today. Within three months, Swat stood restored. 2.4 million displaced persons were managed, and helped safely return to their homes.75% of the IDPs were looked after by extended families. I think it is difficult to find a parallel in history considering the magnitude and scale of operation in a short time of 3 months.
Pakistan Army suffered 985 casualties (including 228 officers and men killed and 757 wounded) with highest officers to troop’s casualty ratio 1: 8 in known history. Additionally, there were 595 casualties of other LEAs and 981 civilians lost their lives. When we were still in the recovery process, Swat was hit by the worst floods in its history. It further compounded the problem.
Following success of military operations, reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure was immediately launched to restore life. This rehabilitation effort, in addition to a host of other activities, included an effective de-radicalization programme.
De-Radicalization, as a process, is gaining eminence in many parts of the world. There is general consensus in societies that the national security interests are better served by de-indoctrinating and re-integrating the radicals back into the society. By radicalism, I refer to a socio-psychological process of incremental commitment to radical trends may it be political, psychological or religious. Radicalism is, therefore, a risk factor that can transform into violence and push societies into anarchy.
De-radicalization effort was a result of the demand placed on the Army by the post operation environment. Driven by the detention of thousands of miscreants after the operation, our de-radicalization programme was built around four pillars:-
a. De-radicalization of juveniles.
b. De- radicalization of selected “reconcilable” detainees.
c. De- radicalization of families of selected detainees to which they would fall back on release.
d. De-radicalization of certain villages in general, from which the bulk of militants had originated.
This programme was initiated with the help of Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and certain NGOs, in specially created facilities, Our effort, to transform the members of public who embraced radical trends, has met considerable success. We are getting back to you with validation and a sense that this is doable.
It will be prudent for all elements of National power and the National to take a holistic view of, National Security, within the purview of ‘State as well as Human Security’ in modern times, no single organ of the State, is configured to mount a wholesome response to the challenges confronting National Security. All instruments of state and society have a role to play. De-Radicalization is an important contributor towards achieving human security. Such efforts are to be expressed through attempts to change behaviours, primarily by ‘rehabilitating’ or ‘de-indoctrination’.
The effort, therefore, has a larger context and merits time resources and commitment. To sustain these undertakings, the State and the society, have to provide enabling ideological, political and socio-economic safeguards integrated into a well thought-out, encompassing National policy with the ultimate goal of achieving counter-radicalization of the society at large in the long term.
Army is following a well thought out campaign plan, which is succeeding and providing space to other organs of State which must expeditiously build on military success to achieve during peace and stability.
Pakistan Army being a National Army, derives its strength from the people of Pakistan and is answerable to the people and their representatives in the Parliament. Accordingly, Pakistan Army considers peoples’ support vital for its operations against terrorists, and believes that only the people of Pakistan can determine the National interest and Army’s role in their achievement.
While we have taken the first step here in Swat by initiating de-radicalization program, it needs support and initiative of the society, intellectuals and policy makers to take the lead and put into effect a counter-radicalization construct, not only to sustain the de-radicalization effort, but also to assure a free and progressive future for Pakistan.
Pakistan’s commitment to war against Al-Qaeda and its affiliates is total and unwavering. Pakistan firmly believes in taking stern action against all terrorists groups. Pakistan Army is determined to lead the fight on terror in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and in line with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Let me reiterate that there is no military solution to terrorism since military strategy can only provide enabling environment. The menace has to be tackled in the domain of National security which warrants a comprehensive response entailing synergy by all elements of National power.
I would end with my sincerest tribute to the resilience and sacrifices of valiant people of Swat to Pakistan Army Shuhada and their families without whom we could have never succeeded. The debt owed to them can only be repaid by achieving and ensuring lasting peace in Swat as well as in Pakistan. De-radicalization is therefore, a step towards that end.
For more information, contact:
Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR)
Hilal Road, Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Tel: +9251 927 1605
Fax: +9251 927 1601