PESHAWAR -- Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan have agreed to form a military alliance and co-operation mechanism to battle terrorism and fight the looming threat of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).
The four parties to the Quadrilateral Co-operation and Co-ordination Mechanism (QCCM) in Counter-Terrorism "agreed that terrorism and extremism pose serious threats to regional stability", according to a joint statement released August 4.
The countries recognised the efforts made by each of their militaries in this regard and agreed to boost co-operation and support for each other in a number of areas including assessment of the counter-terrorism situation, intelligence sharing, capability building and personnel training.
The parties to the agreement “are facing so many challenges on various fronts including extremism, terrorism and separatism," said Sarwat Rauf, assistant professor of international relations at National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad. They already have mechanisms and organisations in place to fight terrorism at home and in their respective regions, she said, adding that the QCCM is an addition to other on-going efforts to curb terrorist activities.
“Integrated and co-ordinated actions are direly needed to ensure regional security because instability can easily spill over and disturb regional peace," she told Pakistan Forward.
"'Countering terrorism' is easy to say, but it covers a lot of issues including peace education, equality and respect, which have direct or indirect effects on stability," she said.
“As far as the security situation in Pakistan and its adjacent areas is concerned, the pact is a milestone achievement in countering terrorism," she said.
“Strategic alliances like the QCCM can be used as a platform to devise strategies and forge a united front against the threat of militancy and prevent the far bigger threat of ISIL from making inroads into the signatory countries," said Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah, a security analyst and former security secretary for Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
The onslaught of militancy can only be prevented if all stakeholders shun their differences and come together for the greater objective of clearing extremism from their lands, he told Pakistan Forward.
"[The signatories'] common interests and future survival are entwined with each other owing to their close proximity on more than one front," he said, referring to their geo-political position and close borders.
The nations affected by militancy have realised that the evil forces of extremism and radicalisation can only be stemmed through a joint strategy based on mutual co-operation, Shah said.
“Treaties, alliances and pacts are forged with a purpose to achieve what is impossible for a country to attain as a single entity," said Jamil Ahmad Chitrali, director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies at University of Peshawar.
Although Chitrali said it would be premature to say anything specific about the success of the QCCM, by all indicators it will "address the issue of militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan owing to its compatibility with the needs of the two states in the fight against extremism".
“Success of a strategy and mechanism depends on the sincerity [of signatory members] in keeping each other abreast of their planning and work to achieve a common goal," he said.
“Due importance was given in the QCCM to intelligence sharing and mutual co-operation in counter-terrorism, which reflects the resolve of Afghanistan and Pakistan who bear the brunt of the war against militancy as frontline states and are still facing the menace despite their intimidating efforts," he said.
“The process of globalisation that started in the past decade has redefined the priorities of the nations who are now under a feeling of compulsion to co-operate with each other over security related issues," said Haseeb Sulliman, a postgraduate degree holder in international relations from University of Peshawar.
"Entering into pacts and agreements are a result of the necessities derived from national interests," he told Pakistan Forward.
Through the QCCM, he said, the countries agreed "to combat militancy in an integrated and co-ordinated way, [that] will hopefully produce the desired results by catalysing their efforts against the threat".
How effective will the future fence along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border be in controlling the movement of militants?