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September 7, 2016

Zarb-i-Azb reminiscent of ’65 triumph


September 7, 2016

Those, including this scribe, who have visited the tribal areas and observed their systems and social patterns, either in the past or during the recent times, will agree cent per cent on the information given by ISPR DG Lt. Gen Asim Bajwa that the terrorists were armed to the teeth with lethal material that was sufficient for carrying out destructive activities for several years. 

And as the facts go, the arms industry and the passion for keeping and using weapons as the main instrument of strength and authority have been on the vertical rise in majority parts of our tribal region and the adjoining areas ever since Independence and no law of the land or FCR (Frontier Crimes Regulation) could put a check on these tendencies. Apparently, this gun-keeping and gun-trafficking passion emanated from some ‘tribal traditions’ which were originally meant to act as positive ‘stabilization-cum-balancing factor’ for the tribal society where everyone was supposed to be armed and thus law-abiding. 

With the passage of time, however, these traditions broke down negatively into unlawful arms trade with some people in the tribal belt, taking full advantage of their respective immunities from law of the land (more than 90 to 95 percent of the country), rough terrain and safe havens, for committing any kind of crimes and acts of highhandedness to any degree and with any frequency. It was like a small locality of unarmed peaceniks living under the dominance of a small group of armed individuals living in the same small locality, thus dictating their terms and doing illegalities.

Pakistan became a case of this ‘small locality imbalance’ writ large. The irony is that the governments and even the non-tribal society usually remained silent spectators for most of the time or they could not judge the seriousness of the ‘rising power of the gun in the hands of ‘immunity-claiming’ individuals. Ultimately, things had to be handled with surgical strikes the biggest of which came to the fore in the shape of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. The operation has surely met tremendous success as also gathered from the latest US State Department report and as gathered from the frank admissions of some diplomats, including one or two US diplomats with whom this scribe has been talking and interacting at times. 

And those who have keenly monitored the briefings and news items related to Pakistani armed forces’ well-planned counter-insurgency and combing operations under the command of clear-headed commander, COAS General Raheel Sharif, they will agree with the armed forces’ leading lights’ claim that the back of terrorists has been broken.

Corroborating evidence to substantiate this claim can also be gathered from the observations made by peace-loving people hailing from the troubled tribal belt who have now heaved a sigh of relief that  henceforth they can lead their lives peacefully without any fear of terrorists’ attacks that had become an order of the day with some kind of violent occurrences, taking place almost every other day in different parts of the country. Now the frequency has reduced drastically and the area of destructive activities has also squeezed. If it can be described in the terms of percentage, one can say it with confidence that terrorist activities have reduced more than 90 to 95 per cent.

Some people would like to offer a counter-argument by quoting some recent occurrences like that of Quetta, Mardan and Peshawar but they ought to draw comparison with the pre-Operation Zarb-i-Azb era when acts of terrorism used to take place four to five times a week, across the length and breadth of the country with no one being spared.

Mosques, shrines, Imambargahs, pilgrims’ buses (and pilgrims), funerals, public meetings, educational institutions, security forces’ offices and public places etc. all were targeted and blown up on different occasions.

Now the things have changed for the better and are moving at a fast pace in the direction of lasting, pervasive peace courtesy the iron resolve of Pakistani armed forces which proved their mettle in September 1965 war also. The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also played a contributory role in the eradication of terrorism by owning Operation Zarb-i-Azb in its entirety and with all its nuances which, of course, spells peace for Pakistanis and destruction for the enemies of Pakistan whether they belong to the hidden ‘snakes-in-the-grass category’ or to the rank and file of known, identified enemies. 


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