Srinagar: The Indian Army, today, is honouring Colonel Santosh Mahadik who succumbed to bullet wounds received during a fierce gunbattle with terrorists in the forests of Kupwara in north Kashmir.
The 38-year Colonel was the Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles and was spearheading his troops in the encounter against four terrorists.
For the last one week, Colonel Santosh Mahadik and his troops had launched a cordon and search drive in Manigah forest area.
On Sunday, Mahadik’s troops came under heavy firing from the terrorists. The clash left three soldiers and a Jammu and Kashmir policeman injured. However, the terrorists managed to flee.
Colonel Mahadik, a Sena medal for gallantry winner, is survived by his wife and two children, 11 and five years of age.
His stint in the Indian Army boasts of many successful counter-terrorist raids.
“We owe a deep debt of gratitude to officers like Santosh who lead from the front and are willing to pay the ultimate price in the fight against terrorism,”Lieutenant General DS Hooda, Army Commander, Northern Command said.
The death of such swashbuckling Indian hero emphasises the need to draw global attention to the fact that Pakistan is constantly instigating separatist outfits to take up arms and unleash terror in the valley. Pakistan has repeatedly denied allegations of fuelling militancy in the region. However, the cross-border infiltration rate has escalated and Pakistan has failed (deliberately) to curb trespassing from their side of the border.
Moreover, Nawaz Sharif’s recent statement on providing moral support to separatist outfits in Jammu & Kashmir speaks volume of the country’s double standard foreign policy.
Pakistan’s restive northwest province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has issued directives to its administrative and security departments to make serious efforts to cut off the money supply of banned terror groups.
The provincial departments have been instructed to devise a strategy to crack down and to closely monitor the proscribed groups and individuals involved in raising funds illegally for welfare or religious purposes, Pakistani media reported.
Despite its continued efforts against terrorism, terror financing remains a challenge for Pakistan due to political resistance, sympathizers and money trails that are hard to track, analysts say.
“Pakistan will have to come up with a strategy to freeze assets of terror groups, make it difficult for terrorists to gather funds, but to also spot those who’ve adopted new identities and have re-established their networks,” A. Z. Hilali, head of political science department at the Peshawar University told VOA.
Suspect groups identified
The official document circulated by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government emphasized banned groups are not allowed to gather money “under any circumstances” and security forces and the administration should ensure people and groups raising money for mosques, charity or madrassas (religious seminaries) are lawfully doing so.
In 2015, Pakistan banned around 200 terror groups after establishing their involvement in sectarian and terrorism related activities against the state.
Pakistan had also frozen around $3 million worth of assets of 5,000 suspected terrorists last year. “We will make every possible effort to implement National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terror financing in our province,” Shaukat Yousafzai, spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government told VOA.
“We’re the biggest victim of terrorism and we do not want them [terrorists] to succeed. We’ll also work to start awareness programs so that banned groups can be prohibited from gathering funds from the masses,” Yousafzai said.
A report issued by the Financial Monitoring Unit of Pakistan in March estimated the annual operational budget of terrorist organizations is $48,000 to $240,000.
The terror groups in Pakistan generate hefty amounts through charity and welfare work, receive huge foreign donations and use the “hawala system,” an alternative finance system, used for money laundering, experts say.
Pakistan’s National Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy aimed at eliminating extremism mentions the state should “choke financing for terrorist and terrorist organizations.”
Hilali says there is a need to introduce legislation to prohibit collection of funds from the general public. “Terrorists collect large sums of money especially during the holy month of Ramadan under the guise of Zakat [mandatory Islamic charity].”
“The madrassas [religious seminaries] also play an important role and we are aware that a few of them remained involved in collecting funds on behalf of banned terror outfits in the past,” Hilali added.
Security analysts also stress that the government should regulate and register all the religious seminaries across the country and should practice caution before making donations to religious organizations and seminaries.
In 2016, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government received scathing criticism when it allocated a grant of $3 million to Darul Uloom Haqqania, a religious seminary that is interpreted by some critics as the “University of Jihad.”
The Haqqani network, considered a terrorist group by Afghanistan and the United States, continues to fight Afghan and U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of providing support to the Haqqani network. The U.S. State Department released its annual Country Report on Terrorism 2016 earlier this month. It criticized Pakistan and said it remained unsuccessful in stopping the activities of the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. (VOA)
Sept 20, 2016: By considering terrorism as an “existential threat,” Minster of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar at UN General Assembly’s first-ever Summit for Refugees and Migrants at the United Nations on Monday said that “It is important to stress that today the geopolitics of the crisis points and proves that terrorism is the principle cause of refugee movements. Can we ignore this fact, we cannot. We do so at our peril.”
Akbar asserted that “hypocrisy” towards the menace is unacceptable.
Since past few decades, terrorism has become a major cause of refugee movements.He emphasized that for the millions of people fleeing conflict, war, and poverty, terrorism is not characterized as good or bad.
Stressing that terrorism is the “biggest danger” to human rights, Akbar said large movements of people across borders serve as a reminder that the world has become a global village.
“We can only prosper or perish together, it is best that we learn to live in peace, prosperity, and amity,” he said.
Underlining that “prevention is better than cure”, Akbar said the international community has to address issues like terrorism, prevent armed conflict and facilitate development, which will help ensure people are not forced to flee their homeland.
“We have to find out what drives them towards seeking refuge. Prevention is better than cure. Perhaps prevention is the only cure,” he said adding that preventing armed conflict, countering terrorism, building and sustaining peace to facilitating sustainable development and governance will prevent people from being forced to leave their homeland.
Terming the present refugee crisis as “unprecedented”, Akbar said the number of people on the move globally is estimated at close to 250 million or one in every 30 persons and three-fourths of all refugees come from just 11 countries.
Akbar noted that it is disconcerting that just seven countries host more than half of all refugees and now almost 90 per cent of all refugees are hosted in developing nations. He said it is wrong to assume that host nations do not want refugees.
“It is assumed that only host nations do not want refugees. I ask do refugees also want to become refugees. They don’t,” he said.
He said the problem of the refugee crisis has been with the world for a very long time.
“Refugees are as old as war. The first consequence of war is death and the second is refugees. There is another kind of person seeking a new haven — the migrant driven by a second cruelty, hunger or economic aspiration, and both phenomena are visible in the present crisis.”
Akbar referred to India’s “long history” of welcoming people seeking refuge from conflict, war, tyranny, and poverty.
“India offers refuge not because it has a large bank balance but because it has a large heart,” he said.
He cited the tumultuous year of 1971 when Bangladesh was fighting for independence and more than a million people from the neighboring nation took refuge in India to escape the “genocide” that they were facing at home.
“People seeking shelter in our country have never been turned back. Our record has been unique,” he said.
Akbar said nationalism is the “contemporary architecture” of stability and “we understand its importance.
“The intersection of human need in a refugee crisis and national imperatives make this a complex issue,” he added.
Akbar also recalled Mahatma Gandhi’s “seminal contribution” to abolishing indentured labor 100 years ago.
He said in more recent times, Indian migrants, including a cross-section of professionals, skilled and less-skilled workers, have migrated to countries around the world and offered a “positive contribution to the diaspora”.
He voiced India’s commitment to working with all partners beginning next year in developing a global compact to ensuring a safe and orderly migration that is in the interest of all people.
-prepared by Aakash Mandyal of News Gram with inputs from PTI. Twitter: @Aakashsen6