Elimination of terrorism not far away
Mian Saifur Rehman
Having achieved tremendous success in Operation Zarb-e-Azb that eliminated more than 90 per cent of terrorist hideouts, safe havens and ammunition/ explosive factories, Operation Rudd-ul- Fasaad is going in the right direction with the Pakistani armed forces, accessing the most difficult terrain that even international forces could not access collectively, not to speak of eradicating terrorism in all its shades.
It is under the ambit of this Operation Rudd-ul-Fasaad that Operation Khyber-IV has been launched quite recently that is an attempt to wipe out the last remnants of militants who are fighting at the behest of their foreign and regional masters to destabilise Pakistan and endanger its peace. The list of these militants is not confined to merely TTP or Afghan Taliban but there are many other splinter groups like Lashkar-e-Islam and others which are continuing with their destructive designs with and without the collaboration of each other in varied terms.
Those in the know of networking of terrorists are well aware of the nexuses among the militant outfits which operate under the surface for sale/ purchase and supply/ procurement of weapons and even for facilitation, transportation and financing. Sometimes even those groups cooperate with each other on ‘pragmatic’ grounds whose interests and agendas stand in conflict with each other although this is not a usual phenomenon within a domain of conflicting interests that is dominated by armed people with no allegiance to the state or law of the land.
Following the launch of Operation Khyber-IV, operations have started in full swing and people coming to the settled areas from tribal region, told this scribe that nowadays even those areas are under the direct control and reach of Pakistan’s armed forces where writ of the Pakistani state has remained minimal – or even nil- for many areas in the past.
In the distant past, visitors from settled areas to the tribal region were told with pride by a large number of people of the tribal belt that the laws of Pakistan did not apply to their territory except the main roads. This attitude and ‘pride’ had caused escalation in anti-state activities, the immune people of the immune region building up huge piles of arms, ammunition and explosives with considerable ease and immunity for the last four, five decades.
This internal weakness of our state — and society — and the resultant societal imbalance was exploited by many external forces, both in the adjoining lands as well as in distant lands (where power games are played through proxies). Unfortunately, this trend could not be arrested at the appropriate time nor was any effective strategy chalked out after identification of the root causes, networking of militants as well as their connections.
It was during the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb that comprehensive strategy was evolved by the Pakistan Army that carried out operations with the help of Pakistan Air Force even in most inaccessible areas like Shawal. The authentic information coming from this region spells hope as complete elimination of terrorists’ safe havens, ammunition dumps is now a matter of days.
The strategy also covers learning lessons from past failures especially of coalition forces and proceeding forward with greater precision and perseverance.
It has worked well whereas the launch of Operation Rudd-ul-Fasaad with new zeal under the able command of Pakistani armed forces’ top brass has brought about more successes not only in the tribal region but also in Karachi, Balochistan and some parts of Punjab and other trouble spots. It also owes to the harmony of approach and understanding between top decision-making circles in the federal government and armed forces’ higher echelons which are working in unison to combat this menace.
As for the more specific and precise Operation Khyber-IV, it has met success at the outset with armed forces’ personnel including SSG commandos fighting the menace of terrorism intelligently and courageously. In one of its latest operations, Pakistani forces have cleared the highest mountain top Brekh Muhammad Kandao near Pak-Afghan border.
Many terrorists were killed in this operation with a few managing to escape to Afghanistan, according to ISPR. During the same operation, terrorists’ hideouts were cleared, and caches of IEDs, arms and ammunition were recovered and above all, the forces have reinforced Pakistan’s foothold in this area by establishing posts at over 12,000-feet altitude although the terrain is riddled with thick forestation.