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— File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Soon after the unconscious teenage activist, Malala Yousufzai, flew out of the country for treatment in the United Kingdom, all the hype about long anticipated North Waziristan operation surreptitiously began to dissipate.

Expediencies, both on civilian and military side, emerged as the roadblock to any major operation for clearing North Waziristan — home to a variety of terrorist groups where the army had all through the decade of war on terror avoided going on one pretext or the other.

But, strikingly the military looked to be passing the buck for the crunch time dithering to the civilian leadership.

Talking to journalists on Monday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik conceded that no operation in the area was being planned.

His response followed military’s statement over the weekend that a political decision was needed to launch the offensive for dislodging Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TPP) and its local affiliates from their headquarters in the tribal agency, where they moved in 2007 after being targeted by the army in South Waziristan and elsewhere in Fata.

The army, while putting the ball in the civilian leadership’s court, had noted that its commanders had time and again reiterated their resolve to rid the country of the menace. No mention, however, was made to the longstanding stance of the army that it would enter North Waziristan at a time of its own choosing or whether the moment had arrived.

Back to back statements by Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, after Malala shooting, on carrying on the fight against terrorism were taken as a pointer to a looming operation in Waziristan.

What missed everyone’s sight while reading the army’s new found resoluteness was that beyond the rhetoric timed to match the national angst, nothing was said of the army’s assessment of the situation crossing the threshold.

Erroneous as it may be, the obvious inference drawn from the arising situation is that the government ultimately balked at the proposal for going all out against virulent militant groups holed up in North Waziristan.

Sceptics, however, say the military didn’t at any stage unequivocally indicated that North Waziristan operation was inevitable.

Had it done so everyone would have fallen in line, they observed and pointed to previous military offensives in Swat, Bajaur and elsewhere.

The government’s disclosure that it wasn’t contemplating North Waziristan operation coincided with a resolute fightback by the right wingers to regain the space lost due to sudden outpouring of sympathy for Malala after the TTP attacked her in Mingora last Tuesday.

Military-backed groups like Difa-i-Pakistan Council, which had been hibernating since the impasse over Nato supply routes was resolved in July, suddenly sprung back into action to oppose the proposed military operation. Some analysts believe that the DPC’s return itself suggested that either there were differences within the army on the issue or the army through its tough statements only meant to mollify revulsion against Taliban.

A military commander, who previously served in the region, insisted that it was only the political will that was lacking and there were no other operational obstacles.

He pointed out that despite overwhelming grief and anger over the assassination bid on Malala, a national consensus could not be achieved.

“It’s not only about the operation. There have to be large number of IDPs (internally displaced persons) and other implications for which there should be clear political backing.”

Asked what was preventing the political parties from agreeing on the military operation, he said it were only the political expediencies. “You know we are into the election year and no political party wants to hurt its prospects.”

He emphasised that once the political decision is in place other challenges could be addressed.

The army, which for long avoided taking on militants in North Waziristan because of strategic compulsions, doesn’t want to be seen as obstructing the operation in view of the world’s anti-terror resolve.

In addition to TTP, which is based in and around Mirali, and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, North Waziristan plays host to Haqqani Network, Al Qaeda and a number of other foreign fighters mostly from Arab and Central Asian countries.

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Comments (34) Closed

shafeeq Oct 16, 2012 05:05am
please take the actoin against the taliban. we want peace in pakistan. if amerecan army will leave to afghanistan then they will kill to us.
adam memon Oct 16, 2012 02:18pm
God bless our beloved country.Balchistan require more and more development and there should be political solution .Once again God bless our beloved country.
Tahir Oct 16, 2012 05:40am
Weak as water. What more will it take? Can't you see that the threat to the country comes from within and not from its eastern border? Establish the writ of the government of Pakistan in NWA once and for all. Now is the time to use all the toys that you've been accumulating over the years.
Honest babe Oct 16, 2012 10:52am
You must be joking. Malala was shot because she was advocating education. Unless these extremists are eliminated there is no way to educate any one.
Syed Oct 16, 2012 07:21pm
It appears Pakistani military has no strong will power to bring tranquility and peace in this part of the world by getting rid of enemy of the state.
Javed Oct 17, 2012 05:18am
It is a very bad news that there terrorists are not eliminated. It shows how weak is the resolve of political and military leadership is? The whole nation is supporting an operation to eliminate these terrorists from Northe Waziristan. Now it is upto the Army and Poltical leadership to start the operation. If the operation is not started, the army and political leadership will lose their credibility that they cannot take on the enemies of Pakistan.
malik Oct 16, 2012 07:14am
US is not doing any such thing.
K. Anwar Oct 16, 2012 07:07am
Why are we tilting towards N.W. attack as the ultimate solution. U.S. might want this but for Pakistan this only adds fule to fire. As a civilized nation we must tilt towards a political solution. Army is already neck deep on other fronts. It is the duty of the political government to work this out else what is the difference to what Mushi did. Government needs to wake up on both Waziristan & Baluchistan.
karim Oct 16, 2012 03:20pm
Sounds like terrorists will continue to rule FATA while Pakistan boasts of its sovereignty to the world.
Honest babe Oct 16, 2012 10:48am
Civilized Nation?
Orfeo Oct 16, 2012 04:39pm
The longer we wait to kill it, the bigger the monster will grow. Then it will be even more difficult to fight it, especially when we as a nation are growing weaker by the minute because of our ever growing in-fighting.
AAJ Oct 16, 2012 04:54pm
What is the point of protesting the drone strikes as a violation of sovereignty when you obviously do not exercise sovereignty in your own land?
Cyrus Howell Oct 16, 2012 08:09am
"We sharply distinguish between Islam in itself and what people do in its name."
rubab Oct 16, 2012 06:23am
If the United States can hold dialogues with the militants, Pakistan government can also follow this path to save the country from bloodshed and anarchy.
numbersnumbers Oct 16, 2012 06:36am
No surprises here, the "resolve" after Malala being just political posturing by all parties involved! This failure to act will only embolden the TTP/Militants to do even more damage to Pakistan, knowing that their apologists will always blame the Foreign Hand, Mickey Mouse, or anyone but their guilty friends!
ali Oct 16, 2012 06:28am
Concerned Citizen Oct 16, 2012 04:47am
As I said a few days ago, same old, same old, only slogans and no action - political expediency, my foot!
abubakr Oct 17, 2012 07:23am
TTP is not based in NWA. NWA houses groups that do not, I repeat do not, attack Pakistani interests but NATO is their target. Groups like Mullah Nazir and HAfiz Gul Bahadur have no enmity against Pakistan. Its TTP and its affiliates that are the problem and they do not operate from North WAziristan
Asad Oct 17, 2012 04:25am
COWARDS! We all knew this was hollow rhetoric. This nation will never come out of its misery. Eventually these extremists will take over the country.
Neptune Srimal Oct 16, 2012 03:51pm
How can you have "education operation" if the Taliban insists of killing students (like Malala) and blowing up schools?
Tahir Oct 16, 2012 11:52pm
Do you seriously believe this? The TTP are not in the majority anywhere. They rule by terror and by the gun. You can't negotiate with them. It's their way or the highway. You think the Taliban are going to allow an "education operation"? I have a bridge that might interest you. The only solution is to kill every last Taliban, burn their villages, destroy their crops and poison their water.
Nadeem Oct 16, 2012 02:51pm
Why do we need operation in Nort Wazirastan???? TTP has roots in Afghanistan, under the shed of NATO and ISAF. So they should do operations in Afghanistan. I don't know how our media is sold, just to support the killings and the panic inside our own country. Shame on all media, you keep doing this knowingly..
pathanoo Oct 16, 2012 06:58pm
"Army is already neck deep on other fronts." Care to enlighten us , K. Anwar? What fronts are those?
Shah Oct 17, 2012 07:07pm
Was this supposed to be an editorial? Pathetic journalism to interject ones' conspiracy theories in a news outlet.
Abdul Aziz Oct 17, 2012 09:52am
It seems you are among those who want to eradicate everything by using force. so whats difference between you and so called Taliban? Force is always used with wisdom.
Silajit Oct 17, 2012 05:11am
Malala is collateral damage at the strategic level. No more than a bump on the highway. Get used to it.
Usman Ajmal (@dodgy_helmet) Oct 16, 2012 05:20am
Two things, there is no 'hype' about NWA operation and there shouldn't be. The quality of debate has dropped so low since the Malala incident that we are being presented the NWA operation as a 'silver bullet' solution to a problem that has its roots somewhere else. How about an 'education operation' in NWA rather than a military operation? That is, if our elected politicians allow it, because education to the masses means less power to the (morally) corrupt TTP and Politicians alike.
Ahsan7979 Oct 16, 2012 01:05pm
TTP is not based in North Waziristan, so why do we need to conduct an operation there?
Hameed Oct 16, 2012 08:54am
Again our so called brave politicians and army both are simply making excuses. So sorry to say, our leaders both military and especially the civilian leadership look like have no courage even they have alot of power to go forward. And if they can not go there, they have no right of using billions of dollars collected from one of the poorest people of the world in the name of so called national defense.
Cyrus Howell Oct 16, 2012 08:02am
There may never be a negotiated settlement in Balochistan. In Waziristan the Taliban are always ready to accept talks that buy them more time.
areluctantpakistani Oct 17, 2012 07:15am
And as such if the US chooses to fight them then we must follow suit as well...?
G.A. Oct 16, 2012 12:05pm
We don't need the military. We have 14 year old girls to take on this Taleban menace.
Iftikhar Husain Oct 16, 2012 11:17am
It is a tragedy that country has to suffer uncertain time for a long time to come. The country is bleeding now and wants an answer from the government.
Tanvr Afgan Oct 16, 2012 05:49am
We are in a low level insurgency for almost a decade now; Reports indicate that we are spending a massive amount of money on the on going operation not to mention the turmoil in our settled areas. It is therefore time to either talk to these elements or mount a massive operation with all elements of national power to wipe them out. The Army and the politicians must get their act together for the sake of Pakistan.