Swat operation 2009
Muhammad Jamil


FOR years, Mullah Fazlullah had a free hand to indoctrinate the people of Swat, and he carried out his campaign through illegal FM radio. The then NWFP government, instead of putting up a brave face, had buckled under his pressure to enforce his version of sharea, which is contrary to the understanding of great majority of the Muslims. Political leadership was also found wanting when Charsadda was attacked by the thugs, and leader of the ANP Asfandyar Wali left his abode to find a safe haven in the President House in Islamabad. In view of the critical situation obtaining in Swat due to Mullah Fazlullahís vile acts, civil and military leadership had decided to conduct military operation in Swat. On 16th May 2009, operation in Swat was initiated, and within months paradise was regained.

Militants had been destroying schools especially girls schools, shrines, video shops and barbersí shops. In view of continuous propaganda launched by Mullah Fazlullah, and barbarities perpetrated by his thugs, people were scared rather traumatized. They, therefore, asked the then government to enforce sharea so that their ordeal and suffering could end. Chief of the defunct Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TSNM) Maulana Sufi Muhammad had handed over the list of his demands to the government representatives and was waiting for the reply. Earlier ANP government had given draft Sharea law for Malakand Division to Maulana Sufi Muhammad who had suggested some amendments to it. While talking to media men, he had assured that TSNM would take upon itself the responsibility to restore peace in Swat, Bajaur and other districts of Malakand division. Perhaps, it was strategy to deal with the government to get their demands accepted, or Mullah Fazlullah did not listen to his father-in-law Sufi Muhammad, which had been once acknowledged by himself. Therefore, it was of no use to negotiate with him for restoring peace in Swat. In fact, after 26th November Mumbai terror attacks, the US and the West have been pressurizing Pakistan government that it should take stern action against militants. Hence; any agreement with the militants at that point in time would have been considered as an act of Ďprovocationí by the international community. Secondly, sovereignty is never divisible; you canít have sharea in Malakand division or Swat, tribal law for Balochistan and 1973 Constitution for the rest of the country. Any amendment can be made by the majority of assembly members.
Anyhow, Government of Pakistan and the armed forces had to make a choice vis-ŗ-vis put the country at stake by not taking any action or take military action to get rid of the terrorists. Apart from decimating infrastructure and network of the militants, the military also had to make arrangement for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) that had left their abodes on their instructions. In other words, they had helped the army by responding to their call to facilitate it so that it could flush out the terrorists from the area. Of course, accommodating such a large number of IDPs was a challenge for the government; and despite the best efforts of the government people did face difficulties. Anyhow, they and their coming generations would later live without trepidation and fear.
To destroy the internal enemies is not difficult for the Pakistan armed forces but because of the divided opinion of political and some religious parties the action was somewhat delayed. Secondly, the govt in its earnest had accepted the peace agreement between the NWFP government and Tehrik Nifiz-e-Shariat Muhammadi; and it wanted to give them some time. The president had approved the Nizam-i-Adl but leadership of the TNSM and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) did not fulfill their part of agreement i.e. laying down arms. It was therefore decided by the government to launch military operation to stem their tide. It was an open secret that the TTP was offering $300 per person to recruit to bring the people on their side, in addition to using the name of Islam.
Defence experts and analysts say that difficult terrain, porous border and friendly population that provide safe hideouts to the militants are the ingredients for the success of guerilla warfare. And TTP operatives had all of these advantages. Moreover, the TTP leadership was using religion to motivate and indoctrinate the people. Some knowledgeable persons and political analysts had been pointing out that India, US and Israel and Afghanistan had coalesced to destabilize Pakistan. Even Pakistan government functionaries hinted that foreign hands were behind the terroristsí attacks in Pakistan. In this backdrop, it was not an easy task to dismantle the infrastructure and fortifications of the militants. However, Pakistan has proved the skeptics wrong by giving practical demonstration of its ability, capability and willingness to accept the challenge posed by the terrorists.
In a short span of time, they did more than what the US, NATO and Afghan forces put together could not do in Afghanistan. After having made tremendous gains by flushing out militants from Dir, Buner and Swat, Pakistan Army had moved into Waziristan to destroy Talibanís infrastructure there. The question then was being asked by critics and analysts as to what took Pakistan so long to decide and to move. The army struck Swat and Waziristan when Indians thought that their proxies were safe and had an upper hand. The Delhi- sponsored TTP overplayed their hand, and tried to move into Buner. This was not acceptable to Army Brass who had given Baitullah Mehsud enough rope to hang himself with.
The statement of Sufi Muhammad denigrating the constitution, parliament and judiciary exposed their real motives; and his live interview was the last straw that broke the camelís back. According to the government there was incontrovertible evidence that India was involved in inciting and supporting nationalists in Balochistan and also in Malakand Division. Baitullah Mehsud, India and the US seemed to have common objective to destabilize Pakistan, but all for different reasons. The former wished to have control over FATA and then extending it to settled areas of NWFP. India wanted Pakistan to forget about Kashmir and other issues; and the US wanted to prove its point that militants could one day take over Islamabad and nukes could land in their hands.