NWA operation: Army to follow government orders
Reports about a possible military operation in the North Waziristan Agency have taken the country by storm. Every day we hear different kinds of stories about the tribal agency, which is a hotbed of violence and terrorism. The international media claims that the US forces will conduct a joint operation in the NWA, a prospect that has been totally and categorically denied by the country. Meanwhile, we hear religious leaders, political stalwarts and tribal elders coming out on a daily basis with conflicting statements, most of which have no basis.
A look at the stance of the Pakistan Army shows that like the Swat and South Waziristan operations, the institution has again declared that it will abide by the directions of the government and national imperatives on this issue as well. As such, it would be totally incorrect to assume or state that the Pakistan Army will go for the operation all alone without the governmentís approval. For all reasons, it will be the government that will endorse the army operation in the insurgency-hit tribal belt and not vice versa.
Unfortunately, some people have failed to appreciate that the war of terror is a bitter reality in which not only the Pakistan Army but the country on the whole is involved. In essence, it is a national effort and not the sole domain of the army. Critically, the whole nation is collectively fighting against terrorism and in the process it has sacrificed thousands of lives, both civilians and soldiers. After all, the terrorists have not only been attacking the police and armed forces personnel, they have also been killing civilians indiscriminately.
In effect, the civilian deaths in the war on terror are much more than the military deaths. In this national war against terror, mosques, schools, markets, hotels, restaurants and what not has been targeted and murder orgies committed. The terrorists have also attacked the GHQ, Recruitment and Training Regimental Centre, Mardan, Police Training Centre, Lahore, POF Wah, Naval Staff College, Mehran Naval Base, Kamra Air Base and many other sensitive installations.
The war on terror is not a war of the army leadership alone; it is a war, which has directly and indirectly affected all of Pakistan. The leadership of the armed forces has been taking decisions about the war following approval by the government and in the national interests. No operation has been or will be a one-man show.
Similarly, the NWA operation, if and when undertaken, will have all important stakeholders on board and will not be the prerogative of the army chief alone. So, it cannot be at all claimed that this war is General Kayaniís or the armyís war; it is a war that Pakistan has to fight in the greater national interests with the mandate of the government.
In a speech at Kakul on August 14, the chief of the army staff sounded the alarm, explicitly warning against the threat posed by terrorism and religious extremism. He stressed the need for the nation to get united and face the escalating threat head-on.
Significantly, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has broadened its subversive activities throughout the country and has become active from Karachi to Chitral. Quarters concerned have several reports that foreign elements and intelligence agencies with an agenda to destabilize Pakistan are on the back of subversive elements. Therefore, relevant quarters are convinced that the time has come that the TTP should be neutralized, sooner rather than later, in the NWA or anywhere else in the country where their elements are located.
It is a fallacy to claim that the war on terror is a US war. To be sure, the war on terror is Pakistanís own war and how it could not be when the terrorists are killing our school going children, civilians, families, soldiers, hospitals, markets and mosques and attacking our system of governance and lifestyle. It is a war the people of Pakistan will win and there are no two ways about it.