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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Did Pakistanis let the ball drop after Zarb-e-Azb?

Naeem Qurban|

With the launch of operation ‘Raad ul Fusaad’, Pakistan’s military and civil government have once again expressed their absolute commitment to eliminate the terrorists, their facilitators and abettors across Pakistan. Long awaited rangers operation in Punjab has also been permitted. While military courts are yet to get approved with consensus of all political parties but it looks very likely that soon these will also be restored in the greater national interests.

Why do we need another military operation after the touted success of Zarb-e-Azb

But many wonder across Pakistani media, academia and think-tank community: why we needed another military operation and extension of military courts after the successful operation ‘Zarb e Azb’? Prominent defense and foreign policy analysts spent better part of this week analyzing this “Why?”

Major General (r) Ijaz Awan who lead Swat operation in 2009, as GOC (General Officer Commanding) while taking part in a television discussion, on Dunya News, that there are at least three factors which have precipitated the current scenario and they need to be understood with a view towards future.

read more: Pakistanis must learn the limits of military-led counter-terrorism

Did Pakistani’s let the ball drop after Zarb-e-Azb?

General Awan explained this mounting disappointment around Zarb-e-Azb to prominent Anchor, Moeed Pirzada on Dunya TV. He offered the following reasons: First, civil government and other institutions of provincial and federal government including law enforcement agencies assumed that operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ is accomplished and the terrorists have been eliminated or decimated; and our society didn’t realize that we are actually still at war.

Sudden changes of high command in the Army and main Intelligence agency, within a span of literally two weeks, were unusually abrupt and successors took time to understand

Secondly; the attitudes of Afghans remained between indifferent to hostile and its implications were not understood by Pakistani institutions.  Thirdly, the sudden changes of high command in the Army and main Intelligence agency, within a span of literally two weeks, were unusually abrupt and successors took time to understand and grasp the responsibilities in the post ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ scenario.

Another dimension is very important. As argued by Fahad Hussain, prominent media person and editor express tribune that most of the TTP terrorists went across the western border to get sanctuary in Afghanistan, but Pakistani authorities never grappled with the implications.

read more: Will ‘Raadul-Fasaad’ complete the unfinished agenda of Raheel Sharif in Punjab?

Joint cooperation is lacking between Pakistan and Afghanistan 

It was thus necessary to pursue the Afghan government for the joint operation in Afghanistan along with the US forces to eliminate the remaining terrorists and to prevent them from reassembling. This had to be done officially at government level through the foreign office or by Prime Minister himself as there is no foreign minister yet. Being a front line ally on war against terrorism, US should have helped Pakistan in order to oblige and to get a strong favor from Pakistan against the Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban.

read more: Pakistan and Afghanistan have no choice but to fight against terrorists together

It would have been a give and take or even win win solution, as Americans as well as Chinese and Russians are in favor to bring Afghan Taliban on the Negotiation table. But there are some other powers which neither allow the reconciliation of Taliban through Pakistan nor they want to let Pakistan stabilize. With an obvious hint towards India, he argued that these powers maintain TTP as their assets in sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

read more: US encourages Pakistan Afghanistan talks and reconciliation with Taliban looks on the cards…

Pakistan actively participated in the peace initiative for Afghanistan peace talks through Quadrilateral Contact Group (QCG) and later in December 2016, Russia, China and Pakistan met in Moscow to discuss the possibilities of Afghan reconciliation process. It was the consensus among the three powers that future threat in Afghanistan could be from Islamic State-Khurasan.

On 15th February another meeting held at Moscow among Russia, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and India, where Afghanistan and India took a hard stance against the involvement of the Taliban in reconciliation efforts. It was also discussed that denying safe havens and sanctuaries to any terrorist group or individual in countries of our region, was essential for the peace and stability in Afghanistan, said Indian External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup. Both India and Afghanistan criticized Pakistan without naming it. Afghanistan’s representative at talks in Moscow, M. Ashraf Haidari, who is the Director General of Policy and Strategy in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, referred Pakistan’s stand on ‘good and bad Taliban’.

Surprisingly, not only Pakistan is in favor of reconciliation with Taliban, Iran and Russia are also in close contact with Taliban. Both regional powers have deep interests in Afghanistan and to counter the emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan. But despite all these facts it will be hard for Pakistan to keep its weight in the reconciliation process while Afghan and Indian agencies providing sanctuaries to TTP in Afghanistan.

read more: Chinese tell President Ghani negotiations with Taliban only way for peace in the region…

Major General (r) Ijaz Awan, in Dunya news program, categorically claimed that Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies, RAW and NDS backed by American intelligence CIA are behind the instability in Pakistan. “They want Pakistan to kneel down to force their will onto us”, he said.

Pakistan is fighting a war against terrorism, but neither our government nor our society has understood that we are not living in peace time. We are living through a war-time period.

Since the unrest in the Kashmir, India wants to divert the attention of the world from the Indian atrocities in the Kashmir valley were as per records of SMHS Hospital of Srinagar, more than 1150 persons were hit in one or both eyes by pellets fired by security forces during five months of unrest. Of these, as per the hospital records, about 850 victims have “visual impairment of varying degree”.

read more: RAW & NDS outsource terrorism: set prices to kill Pakistanis?

Rustom Shah Mohmand, former ambassador to Afghanistan and former Chief Secretary of KP, participating in another television discussion, expressed his deep concerns over the external dimensions and the existence of such threats from TTP or ISIS from abroad. Beside those external threats, internally the intelligence agencies and other security institutions suffer from a lack of coordination and are working in a vertical direction without sharing any information, he said. This has been established that numerous times intelligence agencies have passed the information regarding the threats but law enforcement agencies were unable to track down and as a result, we have witnessed series of blasts in just one week.

The transition period of senior Army officials also took some time for them to grasp the situation and to act fast in order to prevent such incidence. The launch of new operation, ‘Radd-ul-Fasaad’, which is actually a re-branding of ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ and the combing operations under the new command. Is it the right approach to target the terrorist through artillery across Afghan border? I hope we are not doing taking the wrong step in our frustration, as it will set a precedent for India to launch another false surgical strike across LoC and we will get into clarifying that they never actually crossed LoC as before.

read more: Pakistan Army Raids inside Afghanistan: Difficult Decision but Necessary

How is it possible for terrorists to cross Pak-Afghan border and reach Lahore and Sehwan Sharif deep into Pakistan without being held by any checkpoint? This shows that the priorities of our provincial and federal governments are basically not human safety and security. Since 2001, Pakistan is fighting a war against terrorism, but neither our government nor our society has understood that we are not living in peace time. We are going through a war-time, therefore, the people of Pakistan have to realize the necessity for being sincere with the broad national interest, and for being responsible citizens.

The priority needs to be the rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons of FATA and war affected areas. Government should not neglect them and should provide all the basic necessities which all other Pakistanis enjoy in Punjab and other parts of Pakistan. They should not be left on their own as it was done before, otherwise anti-state actors could play with their sentiments and utilize them for insurgency and instability in Pakistan. Priority of the government should be the security and interests of citizens of Pakistan rather than their self-interests.

Naeem Qurban is Asst. Producer Current Affairs, Dunya News. He studied International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.