Zarb-e Azb: A Shift From Soft to Hard Measures 

IDP-registration-at-Saidgaai PostBy Aamarah Rao

America is not easily getting rid of Taliban insurgency that were planted by America in cold war time period same as Pakistan is also facing hazards to get insurgents out or eliminate and to diminish their influence in Pakistan (included Haqqani group). America is having negotiations with Taliban while the war is going on with them in Afghanistan. Thus Pakistan is right to choose this option of talks. Obviously negotiations were not to undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty and its writ; rather it was to enhance state writ over entire area within the boundaries of Pakistan. No threat to state writ could be tolerated; any force that tries to challenge or undermine the writ, Pakistan has the capacity to deal with it firmly.

Mr. Andersen, defence attaché of Denmark embassy intellectually differentiated the difference between ‘talk and negotiation’. He said, ‘to have talk with any party means, just to give more and to have negotiation means, to give and take on mutual basis’. However, America is having TALKS with Taliban. As per democratic way Pakistan’s all institution had consensus to pursue negotiation with TTP but without undermining Pakistan’s national security. Thus it was decided to launch military operation against TTP was decided as a broad based agreement to undertake Zarb Azb.

No longer does the Haqqani network enjoy any safe haven in North Waziristan, Pakistan, across Afghanistan’s southeastern border. But TTP has strategic and logistic support coming from Afghanistan which is adding to Pakistan’s problems. Afghanistan is very much responsible for the killing of innocent people in Pakistan. Though the Pakistani Army has complete capability for this military operation in North Waziristan against insurgents but to launch military operation within state is not an easy task because it can give rise to some more serious issues. One such issue is the handling of shift and accommodate them at some safe place and provide complete care like food, medical aid etc. is another operation of its kind. After the operation is over, to rehabilitate them back in their place would mean reconstruction of their houses at a massive scale then help them back to settle down in their routine is another major task.

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The elements within the Pakistani security establishment are enduring to view the Haqqani network as a force to represent their interests for Afghan insurgents. To this end, Haqqani forces have repeatedly targeted afghan and Pakistan infrastructure and construction projects with the incorporation of TTP’s. From 2008 to 2009, the TTP network has launched an offensive aimed at strengthening their positions in Loya-Paktia, while projecting suicide bombers into Kabul to launch some the most lethal attacks in Pakistan. Until recently, U.S. and coalition troops lacked sufficient forces to reverse the momentum of the TTP’s network. Although, Pakistan pursued special operations forces over the past year, combined with the increase in the number of conventional forces to execute counterinsurgency operations, is beginning to disrupt and disintegrate the Insurgents’ infrastructure and operations.

However, increased drone campaign against insurgent’s safe havens in North Waziristan has given rise to another wave of innocent killings and their laments had no way except to retaliate against government and American forces. For successful operation we require proper networking with the support of locals to trace the insurgents, their safe heavens and their resources only then the targeted operations could be viable. If the sovereignty or writ of the state is violated by state itself under some US pressure then the ordinary man in NWA would feel politically and economically insecure and marginalized that could give rise to more retaliations and build new resistance. Fall out of such operations is likely to hurt other major cities like Karachi, Lahore, Multan etc.

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Pakistan cannot sustain counterinsurgency operations in key populations in and around the Southeast without proper identification of the targets to avoid collateral damages. It’s going to be an important factor to be taken care of before taking on such targets in the South.

Primarily, efforts to defuse the TTP’s influence would require multipronged efforts. Public support for any such operation would be a major factor. Without public support, no major operations can be launched. While the operations are on, doors for dialogue and surrender must always remain open.