Zarb-e-Azb: Though late! But still in time

By Zaheerul Hassanzarb e azb

Pakistani Armed Forces have launched full scale operation “Zarb-e-Azb” to eliminate terrorists and their sanctuaries from Waziristan Agency on 15 June, 2014. Till today Armed Forces have cleared over 40% area, destroyed communication centers, bases and heaps ammunition and explosives. The forces have also killed 232 insurgents which include Tajik and Uzbek. According to the credible sources many militants escaped to Afghanistan. Thousands of people have become temporarily internally displaced and government has appointed Minister for States and Frontier Region Abdul Qadir Baloch, to look after these IDPs. According to the General Baloch, IDPs will be registered using biometric systems. He disclosed that so far 61,000 IDPs have migrated to the settled areas. This number is expected to touch the figure of 400,000 in the coming few days. On 21 June 2014, Pakistan Army has also announced the donation of one day pay of officers and soldiers in rehabilitation fund for IDPs.

However, seven soldiers have been martyred since commencement of operation. The decision of operation has been taken as result of failure of negotiations process between Taliban and the government and the recent episode of Karachi Airport. Commander 11 corps Lt General Khalid Rabbani is overall commander of “Operation Zarb-e-Azb”.  The security has been beefed up all along Pak-Afghan border to stop escape of militants from area.  Pakistan has also requested Afghanistan to seal the border on their side and initiate immediate measures to eliminate TTP terrorists and their sanctuaries in Kunar, Nuristan and other areas.

Notably, over 50,000 people including security personal have become victim of militancy since 9/11. The terrorists have destroyed over 1030 schools in various parts of KPK and FATA. Just in 2014 they carried out more than 123 bomb blasts in which over 470 killed and 1210 injured. Moreover, Pakistan had suffered direct loss of $100 billion on account of war against terror; it was stated by Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar while addressing a conference at SDPI on 12 December 2013.  The foreign investment has also been decreased due to prevailing insecurity in the country. The militants with the support of foreign agencies have made several attempts to establish independent state in Lower Dir and FATA but they could not succeed due to timely surgical operations of security forces. Destruction of mosques and shrines was used to be another attractive target for the terrorists.

Unfortunately, the local tribal also provided space to The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and East Turkestan Independence Movement (ETI) in FATA. They have established more than 60 bases and communication centers in FATA for carrying out sabotage activities against China and Pakistan. In 2009 the TTP with the help of the IMU, tried to control several districts and under the command of Mullah Abdullah, a force of 300 IMU and Taliban militants attacked a police station in the town of Tavil-Dara in Tajikistan. The TTP and IMU terrorists are also being supported by RAW and Afghan National security. In the recent attack of Karachi Airport, nexus between IMU, RAW and TTP have been exposed and confirmed when local police have recovered Indian origin weapons and “Factor-8 injections” from the dead terrorists. According to the officials, these injections are currently  being used by the Indian Army in frontline combat and are used to stop bleeding. Thus, RAW have left her footprint that India is supporting terrorism through IMU, ETI and TTP.

 Taking note of the continuous deteriorating in security situation, government has directed Armed Forces to launch operation “zarb-e-Azb” aiming at the elimination of menace of terrorism and restore peace in the country. Moreover, the nation since long was demanding the elimination of terrorists and their hideouts from the country.

In this context, major political parties are supporting the armed forces against militants and decision of launching the operation was well received by all segments of society. On 19 June 2014, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while heading a high official’s conference very rightly stressed that throughout the country harmony in the people be created to support anti terrorism operation.

Nonetheless, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif emphasized that operation is aimed to eliminate all terrorists and their sanctuaries in North Wazirastan and get rid of the menace of terrorism.  ISPR has also made it clear that no operation civil populated areas is undergoing against innocent and Agency has been isolated by deploying troops along its border with neighboring agencies and FATA regions to block any move of terrorists in and out of the Agency.

Again PM Nawaz Sharif reiterated that the operation will continue till elimination of last terrorists while visiting Command Headquarters of 11 Corps on 20 June, 2014. At this occasion, he also stated that operational forces will be whole heartedly supported by the government.

But some so-called TTP affiliated religious scholars started negative propaganda while issuing Fatwas (Religious verdict), calling for Jihad against Pakistani security forces. In this regard these fanatic religious leaders are using FM Radios, repeaters, pamphlets, and Khutbas as their propaganda tools.  They are motivating the innocent Muslims for Jihad against Pak Army and by misinterpretation various incidents and developments like hanging over of Arab/Ajam Mujahideen, handing over of Dr Aafia Siddiqui by Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) to the US, killing of several children and women in Lal Masjid operation including religious scholars like Mufti Nizam-ud-Din Shamzai, Ghazi Abdul Rashid, Maulana Naseeb Khan, Maulana Yousaf Ludhyani, Maulana Hassan Jan, Haq Nawaz Jhangvi etc.  Moreover, they are asking to support “Mujahidden” (terrorists) financially and delectating their children for   Jihad.

In fact, renowned religious scholars like Maulana Hassan Jan, Imam of Darvesh Mosue Peshawar have been killed by TTP.  Maulana Jan, in fact declared TTP activities and carrying out   suicide bombing against state, nation and forces are un-Islamic. Notably, Imam-e-Kaaba, Sheikh Abdul Rahman during his visits to Pakistan and at Khateeb-e-Hajj several times had clearly stated that suicide attacks are illegal (Haram).  In this context he explained, “Such acts fall under the category of crime and suicide bombers or attackers are destined to go to Hell…they represent enemy of Muslims and they commit crimes against humanity, while misguiding other Muslims.”

In short, after a long endeavor to convince the political elite at last operation Zarb-e-Azb has been commenced and now under its way to obtain desire results. In this regard, government and military should take some concrete steps to culminate the operation successfully. There is a need to formulate an effective comprehensive counter terrorism strategy focused on winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the local populace.

Government should take care of the IDP’s through robust mechanism. The gestures of donating one day pay, elimination of terrorism, and restoration of peace by sacrificing lives really show the deep concern and pain prevailing in armed forces for the nation.

To show solidarity with armed forces and give message to the militants, civil society and political elite should hold an All Parties Conference (APC) in the nearest possible place to the war zone, i.e., Peshawar, or at some military camp near North Waziristan.

Foreign office should ask Afghanistan and US to ‘do more’ against the terrorists in the Kunar Nuristan region. It is also added here that Afghan Mobile Service has been closed in Pakistan. Government should reveal openly the involvement of India in our domestic affairs.  Few suggestion has been sent o me by one my reader. The same are being added here for the government consumption; Firstly, Interviews of people who have reverted from the path of TTP and its false jihad in Pakistan should be aired, to clarify the fitnah of Takfeer and its after effects – showing that those claiming to be “mujahideen” are really “mukhaadi’een”.  Secondly, the PEMRA and PTA should ban airing and publishing TTP’s stance, press releases on TV, Radio and News websites. All TV Channels and radio stations should voluntarily broadcast to enhance the patriotic atmosphere in Pakistan. Immediate raids should be made on stations that disobey. Thirdly, a briefing of Operation Zarb-e-Azb for the media persons should be held in North Waziristan, Journalists and broadcasters from various media outlets should be given a chance to visit the war zone.  Fourthly, apart from the political parties, religious parties of all the sects should have a joint session and come up with a consensus against the TTP ideology.  Fifthly, any confusion-creating-campaign on mainstream media by any person or party should not be tolerated and must be dealt accordingly during the Operation. Last but not the least, IDPs should be treated with care and love by the whole Pakistani nation. If the government is short of resources, they should invite Pakistani public to help their brothers and sisters in this dire time.

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