The nation is going through its bloodiest and most trying time. The country has become a playground for militants both local and foreign. We are seeing attacks on not just national institutions but even airports, there is no safety for the average citizen and justice seems to have come to a standstill. At such a time, not only is the morale of the masses at the lowest extreme, the people are desperately looking for something to give them some sort of hope. And that is just what the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Asim Bajwa gave to the media, and the country, on Thursday — a ray of hope. Operation Zarb-e-Azb is underway to root out militant hideouts and fighters from North Waziristan, an area where they have enjoyed sanctuary and the ability to carry out their atrocious attacks with impunity. Just two weeks into the operation and Major General Bajwa has communicated a message that we never thought we would hear: there is no such thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. All militants will be wiped out without discrimination. That really is music to one’s ears. The DG ISPR also said that the Pakistan army was not conducting the operation with the help of any foreign force or aid and that the might of the Pakistani military is enough to root out the terrorists once and for all. Now that is the kind of message to the nation this country has been in dire need of. We need to know that the army is in charge of the situation. We need to feel safe once again in our own homes and on our own streets. We need to know that Operation Zarb-e-Azb will not be just a stopgap measure in which the terrorists will be beaten back for only a short time and not eliminated. We need to know that our men in uniform are in it for the long haul. So far, it seems as though the army really does mean business and this latest statement released by the ISPR has shown us that the resolve of the army is ironclad this time around.
We have been arguing in this space that there really is no such thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban — there never was — and that all the militants, in the end, do come under one battle hardened umbrella, pledging allegiance to only one cause: a reign of terror under the guise of a warped Islamist ideology. There is now no chance for any sort of ‘strategic depth’ in neighbouring Afghanistan when our own chickens have come home to roost and destroy everything in their path. The fact that the leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Maulana Fazlullah has been enjoying sanctuary in Afghanistan should be enough to make anyone realise that the TTP and Afghan Taliban are one and the same. The Pakistan army finally seems to be coming to grips with this reality.
After the brazen terror attack on Karachi airport and the death of the dialogue process, which the government so enthusiastically pursued, there really was no choice left. The fact that the army is going at it gung-ho must be applauded and the nation must expend every opportunity to cheer on our jawans and officers who are out there in the field. It is being reported that a full-fledged ground offensive will start in North Waziristan in less than 48 hours, further fortifying the idea of a no-holds-barred operation. We are dealing with an elusive enemy, skilled in the art of guerilla warfare. They do not fight frontal battles and prefer to retreat only to bite back in traditional guerrilla style. It is going to be a long fight. All manner of counterinsurgency methods must be used to tackle this ugly militant beast for the future of the country. *