WITH the arrival of summer, cross-border attacks in Fata launched from eastern Afghanistan have started once again. There have been three this month, including one on Sunday in which six Pakistani troops were killed in combat and another seven beheaded. Four remain missing. If last year’s experience is anything to go by, there will be more assaults involving scores of militants attacking check posts along Fata’s northern border with Afghanistan, from Kunar province in particular. These get far less attention in the international press than attacks in Afghanistan allegedly launched by the Haqqani network from Pakistan. But simply because no western troops are at risk in Fata does not mean the attacks here should be taken any less seriously as cross-border threats that are destabilising the region and disrupting relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US.

Islamabad has lodged a diplomatic protest, but that is not enough. Protests were also lodged, including by the army chief, after a similar spate of attacks last year. No action seems to have been taken in response. As much as Pakistan needs to get to work to eliminate safe havens in North Waziristan, Afghan and Isaf security forces need to figure out a way to eliminate them on their side. Isaf has scaled back its troop presence in eastern Afghanistan, and if it is not prepared to reallocate some of its soldiers to the area, Afghan security forces can step in. All three sides, perhaps through the framework of the Tripartite Commission, need to jointly chalk out a plan to dismantle safe havens, and the issue should be raised with the American commander in Afghanistan during his visit to Pakistan that starts today.

But this is not just an international problem. Carried out by militants chased out of Swat during the 2009 operation there, these attacks represent what can go wrong even after a reasonably effective military campaign. For that operation to continue to be seen as a success, action will have to be taken here as well. Security forces were already positioned in the affected border areas after last year’s attacks, but their continuation this year suggests more resources and a better strategy for guarding the area are needed. There is also the question of troop morale. The loss of soldiers on Sunday comes after the beheading of seven troops in South Waziristan last week. Neither incident was followed by an official statement from the military leadership. At a time when Pakistani soldiers have lost so many colleagues, they deserve a public message celebrating their contribution and expressing the military’s resolve to combat the Taliban’s brutality.

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Comments (8)

A Asghar
June 28, 2012 12:07 am
Any one wonder if Imran Khan will lead a rally to support our soldiers? All our leaders are cowards.
Jaihoon
June 27, 2012 8:16 pm
The only solution to the cross-border terrorism lies in putting an end to terrorists attacks both from Afghanistan as well as from North Waziristan.
Iftikhar Husain
June 27, 2012 11:05 am
The army and soldiers are to be praised for their efforts to eliminate the insurgency in FATA. Our whole nation must come out to thank the brave soldiers and army. Eastern Afghanitan has been a problem for Pakistan for a long time and it is high time some positive steps are taken by the Afghan and allied forces.
Girish
June 27, 2012 3:42 pm
Trust deficit may be?
Ryan
June 27, 2012 10:10 am
I think missing link of the public message from political as well as the military top brass merits attention. We are losing our face in the international community because of lack of media management and a well organized information campaign both at military as well as political fronts.
officetoone
June 27, 2012 4:57 pm
This is RICH. Almost a joke: Pakistan, of all countries, complaining about cross border attacks ! I am with the Pakistani soldiers and their families. Their loss is irreplaceable.
Tee Vee
June 27, 2012 4:54 am
We, the Pakistanis, salute our soldiers. We enjoy deep, careless sleep in our cosy homes, because we know that our Jawans are safagaurding our borders both from the eastern and the western side. Sacrifices of our soldiers deserve a clear and loud message from the whole nation that we salute them.
aamir
June 27, 2012 12:32 pm
Why our political parties do not talk against this.
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