By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - Pakistan wants to benefit from Turkey’s “technological advancement” in the fight against terrorism, the head of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism agency said Friday.
“We want a further close coordination and cooperation with Turkey in the war against terrorism as the two allies are facing similar challenges in terms of counter-terrorism strategies,” Ihsan Ghani, chief of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA), told Anadolu Agency.
The NACTA was established in 2013 to monitor terrorist groups and coordinate Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies as well as liaise with foreign counter-terrorism units.
“Pakistan can benefit from Turkey’s technological advancement while Turkey can benefit from our long experience in the war against terrorism,” Ghani added without offering specific examples.
“Turkey has done a remarkable job vis-à-vis the war against terrorism and so has Pakistan... close coordination and cooperation between the two brotherly countries will mutually benefit them against terrorism.”
Turkey faces multiple domestic terror threats from Daesh, the PKK, the Fetullah Terrorist Organization and far-left groups such as the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front. It is also fighting Daesh and the PKK/PYD in Syria.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s military has been engaged in operations against Taliban militants in the country’s northwestern tribal belt since 2014.
Ghani, a career police officer, said terrorism was “spilling over” national borders. “Only a globally united strategy and efforts can contain that,” he added.
Hardline groups have been recruiting both Shia and Sunni Muslim Pakistanis to fight on both sides in Syria, Ghani said, although he said the numbers were low.
- Pakistan prepared
“This is not an alarming situation because they are not trickling into Syria to battle alongside their favorite forces in droves of groups,” he told Anadolu Agency. “They are in small numbers, not even in hundreds.”
However, he said Pakistan’s intelligence and police agencies had no hard information on the flow of fighters to Syria. “We have started working on that,” he said. “We must have a data so that we can take measures to block them.”
Last August, the Dawn newspaper cited “intelligence agencies” in a report that said as many as 650 Pakistanis were fighting in conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and central Asia.
The authority is “cognizant and prepared” for the risk of fighters returning to Pakistan, Ghani added, and has arrested “some” militants who had returned from Syria and other war zones.
The NACTA has a list of 64 banned organizations, the most recent of which, Ansar-ul-Hassan, was added on Dec. 30 last year.
“Despite the fact [that] the situation is not that alarming, we are still taking this very seriously,” Ghani, the former director general of the National Police Bureau, said.
He added that, like other senior government and military officials, he does not consider Daesh to pose a major threat to Pakistan.
“There is a little room for the IS [Daesh] in Pakistan as its agenda does not appeal to local militants who are already aligned with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, al-Qaeda and sectarian outfits,” he said.
Ghani went on to proclaim Pakistan’s success in combating terrorism and said Pakistan was the only country in the region where terrorism had been contained.