Operation Zarb-e-Azb Trust restored in state as protector
Mian Saifur Rehman
During a period of two years, Operation Zarb-e-Azb has not only achieved more than 90 per cent of its set military targets but also restored the public confidence in the state that is now being seen as a fatherly figure capable of providing protection to its citizens from all directions.
The credit certainly goes to the brave and intelligent leadership, rank and file of the Pakistani armed forces and, above all, to the dynamic command of COAS, General Raheel Sharif, for achieving what was being described as something ‘militarily unachievable’ even by the strongest and most organized armies of the advanced, militarily strong world.
No less credit goes to the entire political leadership, especially the parliamentary parties that provided the necessary most political will and resolve and empowered the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to stay put about their clear-headed and bold decisions to act effectively against the enemies of humanity, Islam and innocent Pakistani women, children and non-combatants.
In fact, effectiveness in Operation Zarb-e-Azb came from the grand national consensus and single-mindedness among all stakeholders and key institutions including the federal and provincial governments, political parties, Parliament, the Supreme Court and armed forces. The political stakeholders in particular set aside their differences on many issues and joined hands with other stakeholders against terrorists for completely rooting out the menace of terrorism.
The federal government and political parties hammered out a consensus and accorded political ownership to the military campaign, the Parliament passed the requisite amendments in the Constitution and the army law (Army Act), the Supreme Court validated these changes, though with a sunset clause and the armed forces carried out the operation in an exceptional manner. Every institution earned kudos and congratulations for its role.
At that time, the incumbent government and the security forces with the mutual consensus initiated decisive action against terrorism. Now, peace has largely been restored in the country.
Those who have visited the areas of operation or are in the know of developments that have taken place in these areas and the adjoining region can say with confidence that the safe havens, hideouts, arms and ammunition factories and training-cum-brainwashing centres run by militants from various groups including TTP and al-Qaeda, have been wiped out.
During the operation, the terrorists’ hideouts were destroyed in Shawal and many operations were carried out in Fata for establishing writ of the government with sacrifices of the troops. Besides that 7,591 IEDs, 35,310 mortar bombs and rockets and 2,481 land mines and suicide jackets were recovered.
The troops also seized about 253 tons of explosives which according to some calculations, were enough for the terrorists to make ammunition and IEDs for 15 years. As many as 3,500 terrorists were killed and 992 of their hideouts were destroyed. In achieving this, 490 troops embraced martyrdom while 2108 forces’ personnel were wounded. The wounded included those who had either lost their legs or arms or eyes or much more.
When this scribe came in close liaison with some people in the tribal belt they bore testimony to the fact that Operation Zarb-e-Azb has met tremendous success. As such, the statement about the success of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in eradicating the said safe havens is not merely an official statement or extension of the released tweets or press releases. Facts- and actual achievements- speak for themselves.
Things can also be adjudged from the changed security environment. On the basis of facts and figures, everyone is of the considered opinion that since the start of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the law and order situation has improved significantly.
The broad cross-section of the society does acknowledge these accomplishments and opine that fruits of the Zarb-e-Azb are matchless and the nation is beholden to Nawaz Sharif government for taking the lead and to the armed forces and all other state institutions and political players who did not allow any differences of opinion or weaknesses to come in the way of this most vital operation.
It is also encouraging to note that because of restoration of law and order, sixty-one per cent of the IDPs have returned to their hearths and homes, while the remaining ones would be back by the end of the year.
During the rehabilitation phase in Fata, schools, mosques and markets are being built and basic infrastructure is being developed and 700 kilometers long road being built in Waziristan.
In addition, the new wings of FC and para-military forces are being raised to man the check posts allowing the visitors after proper verification along 2600km porous border with Afghanistan. Alongside Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan, the army also initiated IBOs (Intelligence Based Operations) in other parts of the country to pre-empt threat of backlash. So far 19,347 IBOs have been carried out in which 213 terrorists were killed.
As regards the Karachi operation, 1,203 terrorists from al Qaeda in the subcontinent, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Tehreek-i-Swat have been apprehended. This included 636 target killers from proscribed organizations and political parties.