Unbelievable Progress of the Military Operation Zarb-e-Azb
Before the start of the military operation Zarb-e-Azb, terrorists had been, primarily, waging a war against the citizens of Pakistan, their values, beliefs and assets. 200 million people of Pakistan had, bravely, been facing various kinds of terrorist acts for years. Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria and other Muslim countries have been facing various kinds of terrorism related attacks, being conducted by the AI-Qaeda, the Islamic State group ( Also known as Daesh ISIS and ISIL) and other militant outfits. But, unlike other countries war against terrorism, including the US-led Western countries’ war against these non-state actors, Pakistan’s Armed Forces displayed unbelievable progress through the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb which started on Jun 15, 2014 against the militants in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) and afterwards extended to other tribal areas, has almost successfully achieved its objectives.
In this regard, addressing the Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony on September 6, 2017, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan saluted the valour and sacrifices of the armed forces, which stood strong against all odds in the aftermath of the 9/11 and the unconventional war which followed to safeguard the interests of the country.
Addressing the ceremony, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa stated: The country passed through a very difficult phase during the past two decades…Our forces and nation have rendered sacrifices in the war against terrorism…Our houses, schools and leaders were attacked. Efforts were made to weaken us internally.” Noting that more than 70,000 Pakistanis were martyred and injured in this war, the army chief vowed to collectively fight this menace of terrorism.
Earlier, showing the progress of the Zarb-e-Azb, the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif said, “Terrorists have been cleared 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, the then DG, ISPR Directorate, Major-Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa had said, “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 school 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.”
However, since June 15, 2014, the jets of Pakistan Air Force starting bombing militants’ hideouts in North Waziristan Agency and Khyber Agency 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. Thus, these forces destroyed their strongholds, 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 (And their affiliated groups) 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 also 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 and other tribal regions. 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, and links. Secondly, 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 during the operation Zarb-e-Azb, and almost totally been 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 some foreign secret agencies to these terrorists, as they want to destabilize Pakistan which is the lonely nuclear country in the Islamic World. However, Armed Forces have castigated these terrorist’s groups to put up strong resistance.
International community knows very well that Pakistan’s Armed Forces have successfully defeated the the foreign-backed terrorists by the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad. Army and top intelligence agency ISI have broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts. Peace has been restored in various regions of Pakistan, including Karachi and Balochistan province.
It is mentionable that the North Waziristan Agency is the largest tribal agency with difficult and complicated topography. But, by sacrificing their own lives, the North Waziristan Agency and some other tribal areas have been cleared by the Pak Army. Therefore, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have returned to North Waziristan and some other tribal areas and Pak Army helped them in their resettlement.
As terrorists had accelerated un-Islamic practices, while challenging 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 in other regions of the country.
Addressing the 218th Corps Commanders’ Conference on February 4, 2019, Gen. Qamar Bajwa stated, “The dividends of improved internal security situation must reach out to the people of Pakistan through socio-economic development…Concurrent focus shall now be on strategising and implementing comprehensive national response against machinations by hostile intelligence agencies…inimical forces to undo the national gains for peace and stability.”
By the grace of Allah, and with the sacrifices of both Pakistani nation and the military, the peace has rejuvenated in the country. Pakistan is the only success story in the world in the war against terrorism. Three tiers including the state, people and Law Enforcement Agencies jointly fought the war, which was the main reason behind unprecedented success. No country in the world history has come out of the menace of terrorism so fast as Pakistan did. Notably, The war on terror has had multifaceted ramifications for Pakistan such as political and security repercussions, economic repercussions and socio-cultural repercussions.
No doubt, the progress of the Zarb-e-Azb is very encouraging, as it is fruitfully advancing towards its logical end. The unbelievable progress of the Operation Zarb-e-Azb can be judged from the fact that what the well-equipped and well-modernized the US-led NATO countries could not do in Afghanistan in more than 14 years, Pakistan’s Armed Forces had done in one year. Taking note of the ground realities, the US and other Western countries have started appreciating the capabilities of Pakistan Army and other security agencies like ISI.
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