by Mohammad Jamil
Both Indian officials and its media have started propaganda campaign that US troops may get directly involved when Pakistan Army will undertake an operation in North Waziristan. Earlier, they have been trying to create doubts about Pakistan’s commitment on War on Terror (WoT) and its cooperation with US and international community. Now it is being obliquely suggested to the US to undertake operations in FATA and North Waziristan, as India wishes to create a situation whereby Pakistan and the US together with Afghanistan come into direct confrontation.
It is also an attempt to indirectly force Pakistan to undertake military operation prematurely. In view of the situation in NWA where various militants have coalesced and threat posed my militancy, it is in the best interest of Pakistan to conduct operation. However, considering the internal dynamics of the country, it is important to comprehend that timings and magnitude of the military operation in NWA, if needed, should be decided by Pakistan government and Army. Therefore Pakistan rejects any external pressure for conducting military operation in Pakistan.
International media and coalition on WoT must understand that military operation against own people and own territory have far- reaching implications. Nevertheless, the fallout can be minimized by prudence of the visionary leadership. There are no two opinions that terrorism needs to be eliminated from Pakistan; nevertheless the internal dynamics of Pakistan dictate that a detailed and comprehensive strategy be formulated to cleanse areas infected by terrorism through planned action to minimize collateral damage. After his meeting with General James N. Mattis, Commander US CENTCOM in August 2012, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had categorically dispelled the speculative reporting in foreign media regarding joint operations in North Waziristan, and ruled out any operation under any external pressure. He had reiterated: “We might, if necessary, undertake operations in NWA, in the timeframe of our choosing and requirements.” In Pakistan, civil and military leaderships are on one page in this regard that if at all operation is required to be undertaken, and they will decide about its timings and it will not be done on America’s dictation.
Anyhow, final decision whether the operation would be undertaken or not will be made keeping in view the Parliament’s resolution, which exhorts to first negotiate with the militants. Of course, in the event all other efforts fail then the government will have to resort to military action to establish the writ of the state. However, people of Pakistan would have to be taken on board before any military operation is launched in North Waziristan. The question is whether all strata of society is in favour of such an operation? There are some political parties and groups who oppose any military operation in FATA. Some of them want confrontation with the US, not realizing that it is not a matter of conflict and confrontation with the US but plus 49 other NATO countries.
Pakistan however should demand that American and NATO forces take steps against Tehrik-e-Taliban fighters holed in Kunar and Nuristan so that they do not cross the border and attack Pakistan’s security forces in areas bordering Afghanistan, as these areas are under the control of ISAF forces. As regards operation in NWA, the same should be undertaken after taking into consideration certain pre-requisites including the fall out of such an operation. It is pertinent to mention that after operations in Swat, Bajaur and elsewhere, Pakistan has to fact humanitarian crises because of migration from the areas where operations were launched. Of course, measures would have to be taken to temporarily accommodate the people migrating from that area, and again to rehabilitate them in their homes after the operation. It also needs a conscious effort to inspire the people so that they keep an eye on the movements of militants and they would become bulwark against militants’ attempt to gain ground in future.
According to a defence analyst, “well-planned covert operations must be undertaken to isolate the militants from the locals, though a difficult proposition till the time locals carry the impression that militants are waging ‘jihad’ against foreign forces in Afghanistan. Speedy rehabilitation and initiation of political process after successful military operation are imperatives for a permanent solution, which must be planned in advance. The experience shows that successful military operations in Swat and South Waziristan were not backed by the required political process for seeking permanent solution. Therefore, any future military operation must be preceded by creating the consensus so that political leadership takes full ownership and media is effectively used to educate the masses. During the last four years, our forces undertook operations in Swat and South Waziristan, and since the border on Afghan side was not sealed, the terrorists went across the border to Afghanistan, and since then they continue to conduct terrorist activities against Pakistan with impunity from their safe- havens in Afghanistan.
One would not know if it is trust deficit or pernicious designs of the US and the NATO countries when they point their fingers of accusation towards Pakistan either for not doing enough to rein in militants or for supporting and training them. It is puerile nonsense even to imagine that Pakistan is out to destabilize Afghanistan, as Pakistan can gain immensely from stable Afghanistan. It will present tremendous business opportunities because Afghanistan will be a bridge to Central Asian republics. If one dispassionately evaluates and examines the prevailing situation it is not difficult to draw conclusion that detractors of Pakistan have coalesced as their interests converge in the region. It goes without saying that India would be the greatest beneficiary if the gulf between two brotherly Muslim countries widens and/or relations between the US and Pakistan are further strained. Pakistan’s ruling and opposition parties must put their act together to take on the challenges to its security, to improve the law and order situation to revive the economy.[saras.org]