ISLAMABAD: The phenomenal gains made in the first two years of Zarb-e-Azb became possible only because of a national consensus and single-mindedness among all stakeholders and key institutions for which the federal and provincial governments, political parties, Parliament, the Supreme Court and armed forces deserve immense acclaim and approbation.
Every establishment sincerely put in its contribution it can in a big way to make the military operation an unprecedented success. The outcome is that the drive has led to an unparalleled decline in terrorist attacks across Pakistan. The federal government and political parties hammered out a consensus and accorded political ownership to the military campaign; the parliament passed the requisite amendments in the Constitution and the army law; the Supreme Court validated these changes; and the armed forces carried out the operation in an exceptional manner. Every institution earned kudos and congratulations for its role.
However, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif deserves special praise for leading the Zarb-e-Azb contrary to his faint-hearted predecessors, who did not pick up the courage to deal with the spectre of terrorism which was destroying Pakistan bit by bit, and at the time like other institutions the armed forces were also not doing enough to eliminate the scourge.
The commitment and consistency the incumbent top commander has demonstrated while taking the terrorists head-on has attracted widespread public appreciation. But sadly some anti-democracy elements have been trying to lure him into assuming a role that the Constitution doesn’t warrant. But like a professional soldier, who adheres to his oath, Raheel Sharif has not paid any attention to such ‘fascination’. He is the first army chief in Pakistan’s history, who made public several months before his retirement date that he will go home on the due date in November this year.
It is a rare development across the globe that Pakistan’s security forces have knocked down a sprawling network of terrorists in a short span of just two years while in neighbouring Afghanistan troops of over a dozen most advanced nations that have the sophisticated weaponry and air power have failed to ensure peace in the past 15 years. Still, the country remains in turmoil with no signs of any significant improvement in its situation in the near future.
The accomplishments achieved by Pakistan’s security apparatus in two years are felt by all and sundry. The fruits of the Zarb-e-Azb are matchless, and the nation is beholden to the armed forces and all other state institutions and political players, who, setting aside their differences on other issues, joined hands against terrorists.
The personnel of the army, security forces and police, who lost their lives in the anti-terror war, are the real heroes of Pakistan. The tones of arms caches, explosives and weapons recovered from the tribal areas by the army during the operation, as narrated by military spokesman Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa while marking the second anniversary of Zarb-e-Azb, left no doubt that the security agencies completely failed to check this kind of activity in the dangerous region for many years. It was no less embarrassment that a real no-go area also existed in the tribal belt. Killing of 3,600 terrorists, as stated by Bajwa during Zarb-e-Azab, further showed that a huge battalion of hardened criminals had existed while Pakistani security forces were not paying the due attention to the area.
The armed forces have performed superbly and eliminated terrorists and their sanctuaries. The campaign is going on unabated. The massive successes so achieved are at times dampened by the activities of terrorists sneaking into Pakistan from Afghanistan due to a lack of a proper border management at Torkham. The presence of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Mulla Fazlullah in Afghanistan and his frequent sponsoring of terroristic attacks in Pakistan with the active support of Kabul, the US and India leave no doubt that these countries do not want peace in Pakistan otherwise the chief terrorist can’t stay there safe even for a day.
Pakistani forces are now determined to ensure introduction of border management mechanism so that no one can enter in Pakistan without valid travel documents. Unless massive illegal human movement will be legally channelized and properly documented, terrorists will continue to infiltrate into Pakistan to take up their nefarious activities. This will obviously mar the positive outcome of Zarb-e-Azb.
A great game is on in Afghanistan in which Pakistan is a prime target. As usual the US is the main player and director while India is also working hard to inflict maximum damage on Pakistan. Both Washington and New Delhi are the strongest allies of Afghanistan. Islamabad-Washington ties are extremely tense, which further worsened due to the May 21 American drone attack in Noshki, Balochistan, on the Afghan Taliban chief Mulla Mansour. Before that, the US had refused to pay the committed money for F-16 aircraft demanding that Dr Shakil Afridi should be released and Pakistan should decisively proceed against the Haqqani network. The provocative firing by the Afghan forces on the Pakistani troops at the Torkham border is in fact meant to put further pressure on Pakistan by the US to get its demands accepted by Islamabad.
Pakistan will certainly take action against the Haqqani network but only if it finds any of its members on its soil. However, if they sneak into Pakistan from Afghanistan, it can only identify them if a proper border control is in place so that everybody coming in and going out is recognized and documented. But unfortunately Afghanistan is resisting this kind of management, which Pakistan has resolved to introduce at all costs.
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