There is a war raging and it has been a long time coming. The whole country is in a state of flux and it would be wise for all parties concerned to take heed of the changing tides. The military has launched a full-scale offensive in North Waziristan, the hotbed of militants in the country be they homegrown or foreign terrorists — for example, the Uzbeks alleged to be involved in the attack on Karachi airport. The civilian government has exhausted all options for avoiding this confrontation, no matter how naïve they may have been. The jingle of peace talks and negotiations kept echoing through the PML-N government’s power corridors for the past many months while the military played its cards patiently but kept its powder dry because it — and, it seems, many in the rest of the country — knew that talks just would not deliver, giving instead the militants time to regroup and strengthen themselves. The brazen attack on the country’s largest airport proved that point and forced the military’s hand. Now that that hand has rocked the cradle, what is needed is political and national will to see Operation Zarb-e-Azb through to a successful conclusion where we see the terrorists wiped out and our sovereignty restored.
So far, the offensive has limited itself to airstrikes that have become more precise and surgical, eliminating as many as 55 militants in one attack. Two drone attacks on Wednesday killed a further five militants. The double pounding that the militants are receiving by the army and the US drones should be cause for celebration but, as usual, the civilian government has started raising the usual hue and cry about how drone strikes violate our sovereignty but, at the end of the day, it must be made to realise that our integrity and territory were compromised the moment we allowed jihadists safe havens on our soil. While drone attacks have tapered off in number, the army could use all the help it can get. Speaking of international aid, it is beyond comprehension why the federal government has seemingly refused help from foreign donor agencies to assist the many thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who are making their exodus out of North Waziristan and into other areas. The government is saying that it can help and support its own people but reality suggests otherwise. This government finds itself in the midst of a severe financial and crippling energy crisis where it is unable to help the people generally — what then of the IDPs? Sindh has said that it will not host the IDPs because it is afraid that militants will enter Karachi under the guise of Pahtun IDPs to integrate with the large Pashtun community in the port city, gaining access and causing mayhem. While one understands the qualms of the Sindh government, this is a rather impossible declaration as it is just not acceptable that one’s own country shun its citizens.
Zarb-e-Azb has just begun. After the airstrikes, a ground offensive will be ready to kick in with ground troops joining the battle. The only reason behind the wait has been the final date given to the IDPs to evacuate — that date being today. There is no turning back now, no matter how many ‘olive branches’ are extended by the terrorists. The army has taken a brave and long awaited step, and the people have left their homes and hearths to rid themselves of the militant monsters in their midst. The government and army must stand side by side now for there is no alternative. *
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