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Army’s options limited

August 28, 2012

APROPOS of Cyril Almeida’s article ‘The two North Waziristans’ (Aug 19). The writer has touched a very sensitive issue confronting the nation, specially the army whose options are running out fast.

Since 9/11 the US or Pakistan has not made any significant gains except in Malakand division with heavy losses in men and material. It is true the US and Pakistan are engaged in a double game that is taking them away from their objective.

Haqqanis at both sides are friendly and at the same time dangerous, their free movement across the border on both sides is a major cause of conflict between the US and Pakistan.

There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that there are the Taliban that fight the US proxy against us and likewise there are the Talibans on our side that fight our proxy against them.

The army finds itself more constrained because North Waziristan and the people there are its own and going against them is not as easy as the US perceives.

But now the army is faced with the dilemma. It is seeing its North Waziristan campaign doctrine making no headway. The only way it can claim success in its local campaign is by carrying out military operation in North Waziristan. This is also likely to be a tactical success as strategically the objectives achieved here will be lost to the losses suffered to the militant reactions in the heartland of the country.

Civilians may also start questioning the righteousness of the chosen doctrine considering the inability of the army to prevent reaction in the country’s heartland.

The other problem is of resources and the fatigue that the army is subjected to when asked to change gears from defensive to offensive operations.

Our army has taken too long to sit and wait thus exposing its troops to mental fatigue if not physical.

Be it the army or the government, people want to know why every decision after meetings between Pakistan top brass and the US military are announced from Washington, why not by Pakistan.

The people are not satisfied by the preventive measures taken by the Air Force at Kamra when the threat was imminent and was expected.

No doubt the PAF personnel did a wonderful job but the fact remains that the militants were able to penetrate in one of the most secure and well-guarded institutions of armed forces.

The writer’s view that generals being more focused on DHA plots have lost the sense of security plot will be taken with a tinge of salt by the army. But there is truth in the view expressed by the writer and it needs to be said that all administration related to all DHAs should have nothing to do with the serving officers of armed forces.

At present presidents of all DHAs are corps commanders and administrators are serving brigadiers. If the DHA has to be managed, it should be done by retired officers alone. Corps commanders should have too much on their minds, including internal insecurities, to be able to give any time to such responsibilities.

M. A. BUTT Karachi