Saturday, 9 April 2016

South Punjab operation: List of terrorists’ facilitators being made

April 07, 2016/ 
LAHORE - A list of the suspected “influential figures” having contacts with banned outfits is being prepared to neutralise the facilitators of terrorists in the ongoing army and Rangers-led operation in South Punjab as part of NAP, say top security officials. 
Facilitators among different quarters of influential circles serve their different interests with banned outfits whether they belong to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Al-Qaeda, TTP and its splinters or Baloch militants, operating at South Punjab borders with Balochistan and Sindh, they said, while sharing some details about the helpers of terrorists with The Nation yesterday. 
The list can include the political figures, people running extensive networks of religious seminaries, tribal chieftains and other local influentials of South Punjab and NGOs, they added. 
The security agencies had caught persons from Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur in different quarters of last year on the charge of aiding the banned outfits while operating under the cover of religious seminaries. One of the religious seminaries was part of the chain of a sitting member of the Parliament belonging to Dera Ghazi Khan. 
Indirect linkages of some tribal chieftains and influential clansmen with the banned outfits have also come under the radar of the security agencies in South Punjab. Tribal people use banned outfits’ members as assassins to settle their personal feuds and, in return, offer sanctuaries and other facilities to them. The members of the seminaries have their ideological leanings with regard to the banned organizations and in some cases financial gains are involved, said the security officials. 
Some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also been monitored for facilitating terror actions against Pakistan or providing information, which is vital to attack or know about the movements of the security forces in the operation areas. 
Keeping in view this fact, the list of NGOs and individuals operating in South Punjab is also being made to identify the possible elements working against the state, they added. 
Facilitators are lifeline of terrorists as without them they cannot operate in the no-go-areas of South Punjab. They need food, medical treatment and information and, above all, smooth movement inside the settled areas of South Punjab as well as other parts of the province, which could not be possible without the facilitators, said the security officials. 
Referring to a recent activity of facilitators, they said a key intelligence service of the military had caught a RAW-trained banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) mid-ranking militant commander from Rahim Yar Khan during special operations in South Punjab. His facilitator who was harbouring him for monetary gains had also been picked up. 
Army and Rangers-led special anti-terror operations are being conducted in South Punjab areas bordering with Balochistan and Sindh with major thrust on “highly sensitive” regions of Rajanpur-Rojhan, Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Bahawalpur and Multan. 
In Northern Punjab, operations will also be conducted in highly sensitive districts of Mianwali and Attock which connect the province with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In general, similar sweeps are also being carried out across the Punjab. 
The operations are of two types which include intelligence-led and intelligence-based operations with Army and Rangers in the lead as a fighting force with Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department as an assisting force. 
Though the military agencies have their own dossiers regarding the terror targets, but they have also with them a list of more than 100 most wanted terrorists in the Punjab prepared by the civilian agencies last year. 
According to the intelligence agencies of the military, the sleeper units of banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, TTP and its splinters and Al-Qaeda are mainly involved directly or indirectly in terror activities in the Punjab. The banned Jaish-e-Muhammad with its headquarters in Bahawalpur is considered as the second deadliest outfit after Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in South Punjab. 
Some of total 20 high-ranking terrorists of the Punjab, mainly belonging to southern parts of the province, have been executed. This gave credence to the army and Rangers to focus on these areas.
Published in The Nation newspaper on 07-Apr-2016

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