The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), Government of Pakistan, organized a three-day conference titled Islamabad International Counter Terrorism Forum (IICTF-2018), envisaged on the theme Pakistan’s Endeavors and Achievements in Countering Extremism/Terrorism (PEACE). The theme for 2018 symbolizes Pakistan’s long struggle in bringing peace back to its nation after facing a multitude of challenges on national and international fronts.
The IICTF-2018 was held during April 3rd to 5th, 2018 here at Islamabad. Experts from all across the world were invited to attend the conference, including representatives from China, Russia, France, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Scholars, experts, policy makers and politicians from Pakistan also partook in the IICTF-2018; making it a two-way communication and learning experience for scholars from within Pakistan, and beyond. The concluding session was devoted to Pakistan’s journey from a victim to a victor, as held today on April 5th April, 2018.
The IICTF-2018 was concluded with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as Chief Guest. He delved into the issue of how terrorism invaded the borders of Pakistan, recalling a time when Pakistan was safe from terrorists and the infiltration of drugs. He said that the Afghan invasion brought major changes in the region, particularly impacting Pakistan. He then discussed the journey Pakistan has had in overcoming said challenges that penetrated Pakistan’s borders in the decades that followed the Afghan war. The Prime Minister further observed that no country wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan, countering all claims to the contrary. Pakistan suffers the most, he articulated, from instability in its bordering regions.
On the issue of terrorism in the South Asian region, the Prime Minister called special attention to the terrorism permeating the Indian occupied Kashmir. He called upon the international community to accept the reality prevailing in Indian occupied Kashmir, whereby 17 young innocent lives were claimed in cold blood last Sunday. Mr. Abbasi stressed that the Kashmir issue can only be resolved through the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution calling for a plebiscite in the area.
Noting that terrorism has now become a global challenge, the Prime Minister took pride in the fact that Pakistan has been victorious in defeating a monster, where the rest of the world has failed. Cities like Karachi that were once declared as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, have recovered from the catastrophe with courage and grace. Finally, The Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to all the participants for their invaluable contributions, and to NACTA for taking such a brave and essential initiative.
Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, the Interior Minister of Pakistan, who also graced the occasion, noted that although Pakistan has suffered from terrorism for a considerable time, it has also fought against the same with great valour and spirit. Remembering notable sacrifice of Aitzaz Ahsan Bangash, he paid a tribute to the unsung heroes of Pakistan who laid their lives in the cause of countering terrorism and extremism. Referring to the National Action Plan, the National Internal Security Policy 2014-2018, and the National Counter Extremism Policy Guidelines, he said that Pakistan has been engaging all factions of state in its devotion to countering terrorism and violent extremism. Looking forward, Mr. Iqbal noted that Pakistan is now looking towards stabilizing its future, relying on economic opportunities such as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), enabling development not just in Pakistan, but in the whole region.
The Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Khawaja Asif discussed Pakistan’s vision for a democratic Pakistan, remarking that Pakistan was built upon the values of democracy, justice and fair play, as envisioned by Qauid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Referring to the nation’s fight against terrorism, Mr. Asif stressed on the need for a regional strategy to overcome the scourge of terrorism that is impacting the south Asian region of the world. He called for cooperation with neighbouring countries, particularly in the field of countering terrorism to ensure long term peace and development on a regional and global level.
Ms. Sherry Rehman, Leader of the Opposition, Senate of Pakistan, gave valuable insights on the need for inclusion of women in all settings of society for a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan; presenting the remarkable notion that it’s not just a few good men that are needed to undo the effects of terrorism, but a lot of women involved in the process as well.
Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Member National Assembly and former Foreign Minister of Pakistan, discussing Pakistan’s march towards stability, shed light on the internal and external challenges faced by Pakistan. Despite such challenges however, he noted, Pakistan remains a resilient nation willing to fight back and reverse the effects left by terrorism and extremism.
The National Coordinator NACTA, Mr. Ihsan Ghani, who led this monumental effort for calling an international conference on the momentous subject of counter terrorism, thanked the participants and the speakers for honouring the occasion. He recalled some of the highlights of IICTF-2018 over the preceding two days, observing that the discussions were holistic and had far-reaching implications. Albeit, he regretted, that each point could not be addressed in more detail due to constraints of time. Mr. Ghani further noted that the IICTF would be a recurring annual event with fresh themes allocated for each year, hoping that the process of learning, sharing and cooperating would only continue on a regional and global level.