By M Khan Chishti

 jammas.hussain20130105003505060“The military operations carried out by Pakistan Army in tribal areas show the pinnacle of professionalism and commitment to eliminate terrorism”, Jennifer McKay mentions in her post visit analysis on South Waziristan in Spherehead Research. The United Nations evaluation expert opines, “What the US-led NATO and ISAF forces, equipped with the latest sophisticated weaponry could not do in the last ten years in Afghanistan; Pakistan military did in FATA with utmost success”. Similar first hand accounts given by security experts and analysts cited that Pakistan Army’s successful operation against militants in Swat is a unique example in the history of counter terrorism, where not just routine life was brought back to normalcy but tourism and business activities were also revived.

Notwithstanding such independent and factual perspectives, some rumour-mongers continue to criticize national security institutions unjustly either for their vested interests or to make their publications look more attractive to the readers. The recent Tirah conflict yet again provided a subject matter to these propagandists, who strive hard to discredit the successes of security forces’ operations in FATA and Swat. They erroneously equate the tensed security situation in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency with Swat where the peace has already been restored after the suppression of Taliban. If Pakistan state had ever surrendered to the radical militants in Swat, it was not possible for the district and divisional administrations of Swat and Malakand to arrange a number of events in 2013, including the Malakand Football Tournament, Dir Snow Festival, Malam Jabba snow festival, Dir Cultural Week, Golf Gala, Swat Youth Festival, Sports Gala, Kalam Festival, Shin Swat Campaign, Chitral Cultural Week and Youth Symposium, to promote tourism in the area. It is also true that some isolated terrorist attacks still occur in the area, however the frequency has significantly plunged. Much of the security responsibility has been taken over by Swat Police as the Army gradually transferred its duties to the local administration. Therefore, it is categorically wrong to associate two distinctly different situations of Swat and Tirah Valley merely to bring an unwarranted criticism on Pakistan Army’s counter terrorism efforts.

Coming to Tirah Valley, it is a landlocked area which is reported to be a bastion of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-i-Islam and Ansar-ul-Islam; these groups that started consolidating their positions in the valley and posed a serious threat to the settled areas especially Peshawar. Militants from Khyber Agency’s Bara area and TTP Darra Admakhel have also shifted their operational base to Tirah Valley as they consider it to be a safer place to regroup. Presently, a decisive operation has been launched against militants in Tirah Valley by Pakistan Army along with regular troops and local Lashkars. Scores of militants have also been killed in the offensive during the last two weeks. Sources said that Army troops and Frontier Corps are battling to root out the last pockets of resistance in the Tirah Valley especially on the border of Orakzai Agency. Around 18000 families have also left the area in a bid to clear the battlefield for the Pakistan Army. Army sources said that they have intensified the operations, rapid conclusions and clearances are in transaction and operation is hoped to be ended before the general elections.

Regardless of all these services rendered by Pakistan Army to defend the nation against threat of terrorism, certain media personnel make mockery of Pakistan Army’s efforts for eliminating terrorism and sarcastically blame security forces for surrendering sovereignty to militants. They ignore Pakistan’s sacrifices and losses while holding Pakistan responsible for US failures in Afghanistan. The perception that Army surrendered Swat to militants is simply misleading as Pakistan’s armed forces achieved a landmark victory by dismantling the command and control system of Taliban militants in Swat and South Waziristan. Operations conducted in Bajaur, Orakzai and Kurram agencies are also near completion; few remaining pockets of resistance are being tackled. Moreover, active operations are in progress in Mohmand agency, whereas intelligence based targeted operations are launched in NWA.

The spectacularly stark terrain makes FATA hard place to conduct operations without collateral damages, therefore peace building will be a long-term challenge in the region. To be optimistic, the fighting in Tirah Valley will also reach its logical end with Army’s victory over the militants and such illogical and deceitful critics of armed forces will lick the dust.

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