Progress of the Operation Zarb-e-Azb
The ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb which started on Jun 15, 2014 against the militants in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) is successfully achieving its objectives.
On June 10, this year, Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif, while recounting the successes of security forces in the Zarb-e-Azb said, “Terrorists have been cleared and dislodged from their strongholds in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency and fight now is moving into last few pockets close to Afghan border.” He laid emphasis on “continuation of the operations till elimination of the last expected and probable terrorists groups and sanctuaries.”
When the Pakistan Government decided to launch this operation, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took the nation into confidence through parliament, asserting that Pakistan would not be allowed to become safe havens of terrorists. Earlier, DG, ISPR Directorate, Major-Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa had stated, “Armed forces of Pakistan have launched the operation against foreign and local terrorists…who had been waging a war against the state of Pakistan by disrupting our national life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property…with the support of the entire nation, these enemies will be denied space across the country.”
He further stated that military operation would continue till achievement of ultimate objectives. On June 16, 2014, Gen. Raheel Sharif also pointed out, “Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been launched with the objectives of rooting out terrorists, eliminate their sanctuaries in NWA and rid the country of terrorism.”
After the militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) massacred 132 school children at Army Public School and College in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, while emphasizing national unity against terrorists, Gen. Raheel had repeatedly stated, “Our resolve has taken new height”, and added “We will continue to go after the inhuman beasts, their facilitators till their final elimination.”
And Gen. Raheel Sharif has himself started supervising the military action against terrorists, and as part the operation, Zarb-e-Azb.
However, since June 15, 2014, the jets of Pakistan Air Force have bombed militants’ hideouts in North Waziristan, and killed thousands of insurgents including foreign militants, while Pak Army has also killed several terrorists through ground offensive and many of them surrendered before the Army.
Undoubtedly, the noble cause followed by troops enabled them to eliminate terrorists, destroyed their strongholds/sanctuaries, demolishing tunnels and factories producing IED (Explosives), while drying the sources of their funds and sinking their public support.
In fact, the different war between Pakistan’s Armed Forces and the TTP insurgents is simply a ‘clash of wills’ between two entities. Military thinkers agree that although the physical force will determine the type and scale of war, yet it is the ‘will to fight’ or ‘moral force’ that determines the outcome of war. Clausewitz puts it this way, “One might say that the physical force seems little more than the wooden hilt, while moral factors are the precious metal, the real weapon.”
In his book, “Fighting Power: German and U.S. Army Performance, 1939-1945”, Creveld identifies the elements of ‘moral force’, whom he calls “fighting power, the willingness to fight and the readiness, if necessary, to die.” The greater these elements, the less vulnerable an armed force will be to demoralization. ‘Moral force’, then, is the crucial factor in determining the combat power of any belligerent.
During the successful military operation, Zarb-e-Azb” retreat of the Taliban from North Waziristan has proved that such elements like ‘will to fight’ and ‘moral force’ have been more found in Pakistan’s Armed Forces then the Taliban militants.
Nevertheless, there are other causes which demoralized the insurgents of the TTP and their affiliated militant outfits. Firstly, strong determination and cohesiveness as noted in Pakistan’s Armed Forces played a key role in expelling terrorists from North Waziristan Agency. In this regard, airstrikes by Pakistan Air Force targeted their strongholds. And during street to street fighting, without bothering for their lives, and by air-dropping commandos at the risky places, our forces made a great headway in disrupting the Taliban supply routes. They besieged them at various hotspots, rendering them unable to send reinforcements to their fighters. Secondly, morale of Pak Army was very high. Thirdly, local people started denying the Taliban sanctuaries, and disrupted their links with each other. Fourthly, general masses of the area opposed the brutal acts of these terrorists which compelled them to leave their houses. They came to know that under the cover of Islamic laws—terror, not Sharia was these militants’ real agenda. Hence, they were misusing Jihad which does not allow suicide attacks in killing their own Muslim brethren.
Undoubtedly, Pakistan’s Armed Forces have successfully broken the backbone and organized capability of terrorists to launch well thought-out attacks against the government assets and on innocent people. They have met serious setbacks in operation Zarb-e-Azb, and shall finally be totally eliminated from Pakistan. It appears, as if the militants of TTP have lost major grounds, and in severe frustration, they are trying to create some kind of so-called pressure on the government and the Armed Forces through some terror-activities which are due to external support of Indian RAW and other anti-Pakistan powers to these terrorists. But, Armed Forces have castigated them to put up strong resistance.
It is notable that the North Waziristan Agency was the largest tribal agency with difficult and complicated topography. But, by sacrificing their own lives, Armed Forces successfully cleared the region. Therefore, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have been returning to North Waziristan, and Pak Army helped them in their resettlement.
As terrorists had accelerated their anti-social, undemocratic and un-Islamic practices, while they had challenged the writ of the state, and had frightened the entire nation by their terror-acts. Therefore, leaders of various political and religious parties including all segments of society and media anchors—particularly commentators of TV channels, who wanted that a handful of terrorist elements must not be allowed to dictate their agenda and to impose their self-perceived ideology on the majority of Pakistanis are admiring the successes, achieved during the operation Zarb-e-Azb. Now, the whole nation is united against terrorism and is backing the military operation against these brutal militants.
No doubt, the progress of the operation Zarb-e-Azb is very encouraging, as it is fruitfully advancing towards its logical end. At present, especially Pakistan’s media need to show sense of hope and optimism by indicating that the present broad-based military operation will annihilate the terrorists.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations