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Holy Month of Ramadan and Terror Strikes

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Photo: OV (Courtesy: Google Maps)

– Shantanu Mukharji

There is no let up at all on part of the barbarous terrorists to continue to take innocent lives during the ongoing Ramadan. In earlier times, there were rules even during wars when at a particular time there would be a self imposed cease fire and both the warring sides would cease hostilities and instead sit down in an ambience of tranquil. Alas! It’s not the case now as the hydra headed monstrous terrorists are showing scant respect towards the ongoing holy month of Ramadan and their killing spree continues unabated.

Coming to the point, more specifically, is the most recent (May 12) terror blasts at the Kabul based Dasht e Barchi hospital killing 16 people. Very sadly, out of the 16 deaths caused most mindless by a dastardly act, are 11 mothers and two new borns. Can this shameful and inhuman act be condoned by stretch of imagination? Targeting helpless women and children, who are under medical treatment in a hospital, is most cowardly. Surely, the perpetrators of this ghastly crime are bereft of any compassion. It’s hard to fathom what could be the motive for this killing that too when there is festivity in the air in run up to Eid-ul-Fitr.

While a probe has begun to ascertain who the culpable terrorists are behind this savage act, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a quick thinking act, in a televised nationwide address, called upon the security forces not shun their active defensive posture and instead go all out for offensive acts to contain terror. This displays the extent of desperation and frustration on part of the country’s head of state to reassure his people to thwart menace of terror.

Meanwhile, needle of suspicion is pointing towards Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network for their complicity in this terror strike. It’s more so because in the wake of arrests and interrogation of two arrested terrorists not so long ago, it was established that Pakistan’s ISI was involved in the terror assaults in an Afghanistan Gurudwara killing more than scores of Sikhs on March 25. ISI’s role was emphasised by the Afghan intelligence agency the NDS. Hence, in the hospital attacks, ISI hand remains a possibility. Also, in an almost simultaneous strike, a suicide attack at a funeral procession at Nangahar province killing 24 and injuring 68 has drawn attention for renewed deadly attacks in Afghanistan and during the Ramadan. India too was quick to condemn the Kabul terror strikes killing women and the newborns describing them as reprehensible particularly during the period of fasting.

In a separate but terror linked development, the state of Kashmir has tightened its measures to foil any terror related attacks in the region where the Indian security forces and counter terror entities are forever alert in addressing the Pakistan (ISI) abetted terror attacks through proxy war and cross border infiltration.

In this backdrop, the anti terror organisation and the watchdog to stop abuse of finances for funding terror the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) has categorically warned (May 12) that in view of the measures to contain the struggling economy the world wide arising out of Covid 19, the terrorists are exploring opportunities to take advantage of the situation. Among many things that the terrorists may resort to take the money offered through the economic packages and invest the same into real estate or troubled businesses to generate money for money laundering and terror operations.

Similarly, they might also resort to restricting loans and Line of Credit. Bank notes can also be used to purchase safe haven assets (gold etc.) which are fraught with difficulties to be tracked down. Also, the charities in the name of helping the have-nots during the pandemic incur the risk of huge misuse. The FATF has, therefore, advised that financial institutions may like to give a fresh look into their Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Terror Financing (CTF) measures and focus on prudential and stability steps to prevent money laundering and money falling into the hands of sponsors of terror to see a further spurt in the terrorist activities. Security experts feel that FATF advisory is aimed at Pakistan for its consistent failures in containing terror as recently witnessed (with total disregard to Muslim sentiments during this ongoing holy month) in Kashmir and barely twenty four hours before in Kabul. It’s high time Pakistani establishment wakes up and addresses the concern at least ideally for such time till the threats of pandemic and religious festivity are over.

(Writer a security analyst and a freelance columnist on topical issues. The views expressed are personal.)

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