Rawalpindi - May 20, 2013:
COAS KEY NOTE ADDRESS
C- IED SYMPOSIUM
Chairman Senate, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalam-o-Alaikum and Good Afternoon,
It is indeed an honour and privilege for me to address this remarkable gathering representing experts in a wide variety of disciplines and from a number of countries. The diversity, background and expertise of the guests has made this symposium a truly rewarding and successful event. The participation of representatives from 28 countries is a vivid expression of the desire of international community to fight terrorism. It is also reflective of the international community’s willingness to play a greater role in the region in dealing with the multiple issues associated with IEDs. We welcome your keen interest and hope that this event will help you understand our peculiar environment, our abilities and most importantly our constraints.
As a nation we are peace loving people. Overwhelming majority of our people is moderate, resilient and extraordinarily hardworking. In the recently conducted General Elections, we have amply demonstrated that as a nation we can withstand any challenge. In these elections, people of Pakistan not only courageously withstood the threat of terrorism; they also defied unfounded dictates of an insignificant and misguided minority. As a nation, our commitment to moderation, prosperity and Rule of Law is total and unwavering. We have the resolve and a firm belief to overcome the challenges towards attainment of these goals.
One of these challenges is the threat of terrorism. In fighting this menace, we share the experience of many other nations. We have a rich experience of dealing and succeeding against the faceless enemy who employs highly innovative means of destruction. In pursuit of global peace, we have to respond to this enemy equally innovatively while always staying a step ahead.
Over time, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) have posed a new dimension of threat to the public as well as the Law Enforcement Agencies. This threat is multidimensional and complex. Factors like prompt availability, ease of manufacture, low production cost, innovative use and resultant devastating effects have made the IED, a weapon of choice for the terrorists. Their use has unfortunately gained wider currency.
The threat and impact of these weapons is not Pakistan specific. IEDs have caused devastation at both regional and global levels. These have been used with unfortunate consistency in Iraq and Afghanistan and thankfully, somewhat inconsistently, in other countries of the world. The recent Boston bombings involving use of homemade IED manifests the international dimension of this threat and serves as a stark reminder that even the most developed nations of the world remain vulnerable to this threat.
Contrary to prevalent perceptions, Pakistan has come a long way in fighting this menace over the past 2-3 years. Pakistan has taken significant policy initiatives to counter the IED threat. Pakistan Army, aware of the seriousness of the threat, is leading the drive to create a pragmatic, cost-effective and efficient C-IED Strategy. This strategy aims at creating awareness, assisting legislation, adopting best practices from across the world, suitably equipping the forces and effectively training them. The strategy thus aims at developing a proactive, rather than a reactive response at the national level.
The underlying complexity of the issue, forces us to adopt a multinational, as well as whole of the Government approach. I will take the example of just one of the precursors of IEDs i.e. Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (commonly known as CAN). Pakistan, being an agricultural country, is heavily dependent on fertilizers. 5% of the fertilizers used in agricultural sector of Pakistan are based on CAN. Production of CAN has come under national and international focus, to the extent of creating a perception that controlling CAN alone, can remove the menace of IEDs and our arguments against that perception were almost taken as unwillingness to act against IEDs. However, CAN is only one of the precursor of IEDs. There are dozens others which remain readily available. Moreover, Pakistan is not the only country producing CAN. Other countries in the region also produce CAN which has a higher degree of nitrogen content than what Pakistani CAN possesses. For example, Ammonium Nitrate, produced in certain regional countries has 34-35% of nitrogen content as opposed to 26% contained in the Pakistani product.
This is not all. There is evidence that as Pakistan tightened the control on sale and distribution of CAN, terrorists simply switched to other precursors, like Potassium Chlorate, not produced in Pakistan. The predicament thus clearly reflects the necessity of an approach which is comprehensive, in terms of (One) involving all countries of the region, (Two) covering the complete range of possible hazardous materials and (Three) very importantly, mitigating the effects of policy restrictions on the common man. We don’t want to end up making our citizens dependent upon black marketers and criminal elements, thus strengthening rather than weakening the terrorists’ support network. There remains a need to explore, with the help of the more technologically advanced among us, how best to replace the hazardous materials with economically viable alternatives, or to mitigate their destructive capacity through chemical treatment or, even if that is not possible, development of necessary monitoring mechanisms.
I am hopeful that with the support and collaboration of international community, Pakistan and the region will overcome the menace of IEDs. Our success will hinge upon adopting a focused and multilayered approach, improving upon the ability to work with partners around the globe and at all levels of government as well as the private sector; to monitor, protect against and ultimately reduce the threat of an IED being used successfully. We must continue to coordinate our efforts, commit the required resources and maintain the hard-earned counter-IED experiences for our collective use.
The Symposium has provided us a forum to sit together and seriously debate upon the issue and find solutions to the problem. I am sure that it would strengthen our resilience in defeating IEDs in an effective and responsible manner. Benefitting from the regional and global presence of distinguished guests of diverse expertise, I would like to propose formation of a Regional Military C-IED Forum supported by a wider international forum to benefit from experiences of all countries involved. I am hopeful that this proposal will receive serious consideration from the participants and their countries.
I extend my sincerest tribute to the Pak Army’s Shuhada and their families without whose sacrifices we would not be where we are today. I would also ask you to remember all the victims of IEDs in Pakistan, as well as those who have suffered in other countries of the world. We all owe a collective debt to them which can only be repaid by exterminating the menace of IEDs. The reduction in this menace, I am sure, would help in defeating terrorism as a whole.
In the end, I would thank the worthy participants of this Symposium. Your participation has enhanced our resolve and would hopefully prove to be a stepping-stone towards improved regional and global cooperation.
I Thank You
Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani addressing the participants of Counter Improvised Explosive Devises (C-IEDs) International Symposium on Saving Lives by defeating IEDs held at General Headquarters on Monday. (20-5-2013)