A Concrete Analysis for Waziristan……
By Jawad Raza Khan
History of warfare is filled with enormous number of illustrations regarding counterinsurgency operations, perceptibly with diverse backgrounds against diverse political, socio-economical and most precariously religious motives. Since 9/11, a lamentable propensity has ascended, to use the terms “terrorist” and “guerrilla” as if they were synonyms. This is a serious muddle that may well lead to policy blunders and thus can cost soldiers’ lives.
What constitutes guerrilla warfare is not ideology, but tactics. Its objective is a protracted war of attrition against superior enemy military forces and especially their logistical system. The principal guerrilla tactic is surprise, made possible by mobility and intelligence. Mao wrote that the strategy of the guerrilla is to pit one man against ten, but the tactics are to pit ten men against one. That is, well-led guerrillas will never engage in battle except when they have clear numerical superiority at the point of contact with enemy forces.
Terrorists adopt same tactics of guerilla warfare but not precisely on the logistical system of superior Army but to terrorize the population for their writ. Most of the times they use religion as their basic motivational force, which for at least sometime provide them a firm base with highly enthused manpower to operate in the killing zones with no fear of death. History witnesses many forms of terrorism taking inspirations from different religions for example; Peter Steinfels characterizes the famous Gunpowder Plot, in which Catholics aggrieved by persecution attempted to overthrow the Protestant establishment of England by blowing up the Parliament, is indeed a notable case of religious terrorism.
In recent years students of Counterinsurgency operations have agreed that “the ballot box is the coffin of insurgency” and that’s what ideally happened in 2008, (the election year of Pakistan). Theoretically, for successful counterinsurgency operation; political; military; and population support is inevitable.
The Swat operation had the ground prepared as per the requirement; the affected area was well within the geographical boundaries of Pakistan; it had political support with unflinching backing of international and domestic media; but to counter was a large pool of religiously double crossed youth of Swat valley.
Pakistani citizens and Army was about to face something for which no solution is written in any text book or a military paper, yet it became a source for developing theories and strategies internationally, in the books of military doctrine against insurgencies.
Swat operation was a classic example of coherent and precise application of military and media in combination for first time in the history of own soil insurgency warfare. Political support with elements like national integration and cohesiveness demonstrated unflinching concepts of bravery and heroism, was appreciated and acknowledged over the lengths and breaths both domestically and globally.
Acute scrutiny of success is as important as analysis of a failure. Most of the time failures are evaluated in depth to achieve victory in events to come, but studying a victory for setting up an efficacious path with stability is correspondingly significant than the former and especially when Pakistan is under tremendous pressure to launch operation in North Waziristan.
Students of defense and strategic studies claims that, “shaping the strategic environment while fighting insurgency consists of; isolating the combat area; committing sufficient forces, and; offering the population of the contested region a peaceful path for the alleviation of grievances”.
Let’s equate Swat operation, with said three basic pillars of counterinsurgency operation.
Isolating the Combat Area:
The geography of Swat valley delivers it a natural segregation in terms of military tactics, as it has no borders with the outside world and in this case the most unsafe country on the planet Afghanistan. Although, the combat area share border with Tribal belt of Dir, but natural avoidance from Afghanistan directly, can ensure to achieve blockade of men, material and financial help from there.
Committing Sufficient Forces:
Conduct of some classical military operation like landing of SSG in Piochar (right in the heart of terror den) along with simultaneous advance of two big forces for a remarkable link up at Mingora off balanced the insurgents completely. In just over four months the terrorists were on the run and security forces were in control of most of the Swat valley.
Offering the Population of the Contested Region a Peaceful Path for the Alleviation of Grievances:
Although, Swat operation saw something which cannot be equated in the history of mankind, especially in shape of exit from and entrance back in Swat valley of more than 4 million refugees, which were displaced due to the operation of security forces, within two months of its culmination. Insurgencies are fought phase wise, indeed first phase was over in last quarter of 2009, but phases to follow also required to be dealt with professionalism. According to a survey in Swat valley around 7000 houses were destroyed completely or partially, more than 800 shops were perished. The most effected industry of Swat which requires immediate attention of the public sector is the tourism industry, not less than 650 hotels of Swat valley were smashed which was one of the heaviest blow on Swati population. Insurgent attacked on two major positive aspects of Swati society, one: tourism and other was the education system of the valley, out of 401 schools in Swat, 175 were completely destroyed, 226 were partially damaged, and more than hundred mosques were also destroyed.
The most critical phase of the counterinsurgency operation is still on, which was indeed hampered largely by floods 2010. The devastations by floods were far more furious than the insurgency itself and requires more dedicated and honest works by the all concerned at all levels, so that the phase three must end with complete success of security forces and government machinery in the effected valley. Institution like Rastoon and Sabaoon are set up in Malakand division with the vision of dealing with religious intellectual disorder created by insurgents in the youth of Swat and offering them different skills to learn in order to earn their livelihood respectfully are indeed steps in right direction. The volume of the catastrophe was so big in the magnitude that such steps as mentioned above must also be coupled up with a formal rehabilitation strategy to draw positives out of the success of military operation in Swat. Partial success of Swat operation can act as a beacon for operations anywhere in and outside Pakistan. With ever rising American pressure for Waziristan operation especially after OBL case, Waziristan is required to be analyzed in all of its perspectives before jumping onto the conclusions.
History of Waziristan:
Waziristan comprises the area west and southwest of Peshawar between the Tochi River to the north and the Gomal River to the south. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lies immediately to the east and Afghanistan in the west. The region was an independent tribal territory until 1893, remaining outside the British Empire. What all is going on in Waziristan is not new to these tribesmen. (1919-1920): In the rugged and remote region of Waziristan on British India's northwest border with Afghanistan, mountain tribes of independent-minded Muslim fighters gave the British Army a difficult time for decades. Unprecedented use of Air Power by British was witnessed by the world at that time, even that bombardment couldn’t soften up the target and British had to alter the strategy in order to ensure peace in the region.
Let’s now evaluate the most demanded military operation by US in North Waziristan in the perspective of Swat operation with historical facts at the back of mind. Again the three pillars are required to be studied and validated to crystallize the strategy in North Waziristan
Isolating the Combat Area (Waziristan):
makes the requisite isolation of the combat zone even more challenging. Realistically speaking control of US and NATO forces along the Pakistani border is extinct with repeated violations of Pakistan’s ground and air space by US and NATO forces has made the job more towards its impossible version. The movement of the terrorists from Afghanistan to Pakistan is frequent and easy, the incident of an attack of 200 terrorists on Pakistani check post from Afghanistan last week simply clarifies the doubt in this regard, hence, the first and the foremost prerequisite of fighting a counterinsurgency war cannot be not met in entirety, until the border is watched or sealed with dedication and honesty by US and NATO forces placed in Afghanistan.
Committing Sufficient Forces (Waziristan):
With overstretched Pakistani Military forces in Swat and FATA and loud-mouthed statement by Indian government after every violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty compels the authority to concentrate on enemy number one. With all this in back ground the political and military thinkers still looks to be unsure of committing their assets in North Waziristan which does not allow a go ahead for a successful operation in the troubled area.
Offering the Population of the Contested Region a Peaceful Path for the Alleviation of Grievances (Waziristan):
The statement above looks to be completely oblivious after witnessing unstoppable killing of innocent civilians and gross air and ground space violations as, such attacks will be completely counterproductive till the time they are carried out by foreign forces.
If the world is serious and honest to take on terrorism fair and square than Pakistanis are needed to be seen with a local microscope, steps in right direction can prove fruitful and long-lasting. The canvas of Anti-Terror campaign must be painted in a larger perspective to ensure all win situation for every ally in this war.
The demanded of North Waziristan campaign will prove to be another disaster like Iraq and Afghanistan, if the mentioned analysis is not catered for before the commencement of operation. US must learn from the recent history that winning hearts and minds by foreign forces is an impossible task which it has failed at number of occasions. Let’s this time it should not be another defeat because it will not be only fatal for US and Pakistan but for THE GLOBAL PEACE.