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In the balance


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THE will-they, won’t-they pendulum on North Waziristan seemed to momentarily slip towards the possibility of a military operation but it appears, in fact, to resolutely be stuck on, no, there will be no significant military operation in North Waziristan any time soon. The army claims the launching of an operation is a ‘political decision’ thereby seemingly tossing the matter into the civilians’ lap, while the political leadership hems and haws and occasionally deploys Interior Minister Rehman Malik to add to the confusion. In theory, the decision to launch a full-scale military operation in North Waziristan ought to lie with the civilian leadership. In acceptable practice, the decision ought to be taken by the civilians in close consultation with the army. In reality, the decision will be taken by the army itself.

That reality is very significant in the context of the ‘national consensus’ that the army insists must be created before an operation in North Waziristan can be launched. But what has the army-led security establishment done to try and create the much-touted national consensus? Not very much — unlike during the run-up to earlier military operations in other parts of the north-west. If North Waziristan has militants of every stripe projecting power from there into Pakistan proper, Afghanistan and beyond, it is also a black hole of information — nothing really gets out. Privately, senior security officials admit that the panoply of militant groups must be taken on sooner rather than later if the security situation in the country is to slowly be pulled back towards normality. Privately, senior security officials admit that from Al Qaeda to the Haqqanis and from Punjabi Taliban to foreign militants from countries as diverse as the Maldives — yes, the Maldives — to Sudan and groups such as the Uzbeks, Chechens and Arabs, North Waziristan has become a global hub of terrorism and militancy. But next to nothing has been done to educate the Pakistani public about the nature of the threat in North Waziristan and what the proper response to it is. How, then, will the national consensus for a military operation in North Waziristan be developed?

And if the mapping out of the threat has been poor enough, even less is known about the army’s strategy to eventually fight it. Are the Haqqanis eventually in line for some kind of financial and military squeeze? Is the policy really to slowly win over some groups temporarily to clear the way for a fight with others? Is there a plan to prevent militant leaders from escaping the battle zone as they have in operations elsewhere? If Pakistanis are told nothing, not even the barest details, how can they form a consensus?

Comments (9) Closed

Saeed Gul Oct 18, 2012 04:36pm
Military operation in North Waziristan is necessary but after a national consensus and a firm political decision. After the political decision and before start of military operation there should be a proper road map for development and infrastructure in North Waziristan . Army is already engaged in other areas of FATA. This operation will over presser and over stretch the Army and Army will be looking forward for early handover of the area to civil govt. Therefore the govt should be ready for taking over of the area as early as possible for which a plan should be prepare before hand. Most important is sealing off the area especially from Afghanistan's border side before any military operation, rather in my opinion if we were able to seal the border there is no need of military operation in North Waziristan.
Wali Mohammad Oct 17, 2012 10:12am
Whatever be the decision of army or so called civilian government, it should be in the interest of Pakistan first.
Ravi Oct 17, 2012 05:28am
Small storm started by Malala incident has gone. Her sacrifice is wasted, it shall be business as usual, talibans have got enough support in pakistan, it is proved again as proved several times before. It seems their ideology is acceptable to most of the religious leaders as most of them never criticised talbans for attacking Malala. Well done Talibans, you are winning in Pakistan.
Keti Zilgish Oct 17, 2012 08:55am
In this situation all that an outsider to the Pakistani Armed Forces can do is to hypothesize and my guess is that an Operation in North Waziristan would surely cause a major Civil War in Pakistan in the form of a rebellion in the Armed Forces in which the Pushtoons will be up against the Punjabis and the present facade of discipline will disappear.
Ali Oct 17, 2012 05:49am
Take it easy dawn. No operation is going to happen. Start writing on other issues now.
jawad Oct 17, 2012 03:44am
Any action must be backed jointly by civilian and army side, to achieve the desired results.
dr aq khan Oct 17, 2012 10:11pm
And what is in the interest of Pakistan?
Sehrish Amber Oct 17, 2012 07:14pm
Your speculation is exceedingly superfluous, majority of the Pashtoon are fed up of extremists especially the politicised clerics getting votes in the name of Book and after securing seats, turn their backs to the Book. Pashtoons are patriots, no matter in army or ordinary civilian-stand side by side to Army in eradicating mischief.
imrankhan Oct 17, 2012 06:38pm
The political leadership is still undecided whether military action should be taken against Talibans in North Waziristan. I strongly feel that the military action should be taken against the terrorist in North Waziristan before the United States decide to take military action in North Waziristan. All the religio-political parties that does not condemn the terrorists must not be allowed to contest elections. We should stop pro-taliban religio-poitical parties making their way into the Parliament. Simply they don't deserve.