Sunday March 03, 2024

Operation Zarb-e-Azb in retrospect

June 20, 2016

Pakistan has been the target of much different terrorist organisation for many years. Different militant groups emerged during the America’s War with Afghanistan. Pakistan, being an ally of America in the war has to face different challenges form inside and outside of the country.

Waziristan and KP being near to the Afghan border had to face several attacks from different militant groups. These groups that are fighting against the Pakistan armed forces are Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Jundallah, al-Qaeda, Haqqani network, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Operation Zarb-e-Azb is a joint military offensive launched by the Pakistan Armed Forces against these militant groups. The operation was launched on 15 June 2014 in North Waziristan.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb began one week after a terrorist attack on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on 08 June 2014. TTP took the responsibility of the attack. The preparation of this operation was tough, as the military had to fight on three different fronts.

Zarb-e-Azb being the largest military operation in the Waziristan area has found support from different entities from inside and outside the country. It received appreciation form leading journalists and analysts from Pakistan and all the major political parties of the country have supported it.

Also all major Islamic parties other than Jammat-e-Islami have supported this operation and called it Jihad. Pakistan also has international support from many countries such as America and China.

On 13 June 2015, the Pakistani military reported progress in the operation in the course of a year. DG ISPR Asim Saleem Bajwa reported that 2,763 militants had been killed so far, including 218 terrorist commanders in 9,000   intelligence based operations (IBOs). Moreover, some 837 hideouts of terrorists have been destroyed and 253 tons of explosives recovered during operation. Thousands of terrorists were also arrested, their strongholds cleared and their communication infrastructure destroyed. Success came at a heavy price as 347 officers and soldiers of Pakistan Armed Forces have embraced martyrdom in the second year of Zarb-e- Azb.  Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif declared the year 2015 to be "a year of victory" and the operation itself a "manifestation of the resolve to root out terrorism from the country."

In February this year, the COAS had given permission to proceed for the initiation of the final phase of operation Zarb-i-Azab in the Shawal valley region of North Waziristan. The last phase of the operation aims to clear the last remnants of the militants from their hideouts in the forested ravines, isolate them and destroy them in detail, while also severing their links to their abettors across the country. So far overall improved situation of law and order speak volumes for successful competition of two years of Zarb-e-Azb. As Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, told National assembly that because of the operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorism, law and order situation had improved which is good for the development of the country.

“We are now in final phase of operation Zarb-e-Azb and it is hoped that soon we would get rid of terrorism which would help in further increase of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country,” said Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar.

Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has reaffirmed Pakistan's strong determination to confront global phenomenon of terrorism and extremism. He said, “It's a matter of great privilege and honour to be commanding such an accomplished and battle hardened Army, We will not stop unless we achieve our end objective of a terror-free Pakistan.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb is not just a military operation it is a fight of all Pakistanis young and old, men and women and children against those who have wreaked havoc on the state of Pakistan, its people and their future. Since observers maintain that incidents of terrorism have shrunk by 65 per cent in the last two years. Fatalities due to violence dropped by 36.8 per cent as compared to the first quarter of the last year, suicide attacks do not occur as a matter of routine anymore, militants do not occupy any territory, and though we still witness isolated incidents of terrorism, the situation is certainly not as bad as before. In order to preserve this momentum, a revamping of our policies is essential. For policies need to be draft keeping in mind the interest of the ordinary citizen. It is high time that to pay increased attention towards protecting the gains of Operation Zarb-e-Azb only then we will be able to stand successful against terrorism.