With the consent of the federal government in Islamabad, the Pakistan Army has finally launched operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ in North Waziristan.
It was long due for the federal government to take responsibility of the constitution of Pakistan. The constitution is not just about executing former chiefs of the army under article six; it is also about establishing the writ of the state, providing justice to its citizens and securing their lives and properties, against criminals and terrorists.
The attack on Peshawar airport was not the first attack. The attack on the Karachi airport, on army bases and headquarters, on schools and public gatherings, in marketplaces and residential areas, all have been orchestrated by the same streak of terrorism. It took a year for the country’s leadership to realise that the dialogue process with these militants was going nowhere – however, better late than never.
Other political forces have started to support this line of action, which was long drawn by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP). The damage to this nation has already been done, in the form of the war on terror, but all hope has is not lost yet. There is always a solution to every problem – all you need is the will and the intention to fix it.
Considering Pakistan’s current situation, we need more unity and less debating; the time to ponder over whether a terrorist should be killed or not passed a long time ago. This operation came after the government faced huge losses in their perusal of peace-talks. Evidently, the attack on the Karachi airport and ASF soldiers is proof that this dialogue process was never going to work in our favour.
But what’s done is done.
Now is the time to take strong measures to facilitate the military operation. The following steps should be carried out by the federal and provincial governments collectively, if they wish to produce the desired results from this operation. The civil society needs to practice solidarity, and the political elite need to put up a more unified front while taking interest in this operation to make it a successful one. Here is how
- The federal government should provide complete support to the armed forces and should secure facilities like airports and ports that come under federal jurisdiction. Most importantly, provincial governments should depoliticise police and paramilitary forces.
- Trained and well-equipped provincial law enforcers are the need of the hour. We cannot rule out the fact that militants have flown down to densely populated urban areas like Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The Dera Ismail Khan Jailbreak and the Karachi airport attack are proofs that these terrorists live amongst common citizens, make their plans while dwelling with the masses and then strike in broad daylight.
- Provincial governments need to become more vigilant with regards to what goes on in madrassas, which in the past have worked as recruitment centres for militants and still continue to do so. Committees should be set up that can inspect, regulate and evaluate all madrassas (every student and teacher’s profile) in the vicinity on a bimonthly basis. In addition, an evaluation of their teachings and syllabus is also necessary.
- People from all walks of life need to participate and fight like our soldiers are fighting. They need to champion the cause of this operation as much as they can – the enemy needs to see that it cannot penetrate through the national sentiments of this country.
- Neighbourhood watch committees need to be established by the people of the areas for safety purposes. The members of these committees should be seniors who have been living in the area for a long time and are familiar with every nook and corner, and be more aware about any new faces that come into their neighbourhood.
- The neighbourhood committees should work like a sentry to keep a close eye on local mosques of all sects. The profiling of the maulvis and an evaluation of the sermons they are delivering during Friday prayers and on other occasions will play a key role.
- Mosques providing shelter to outsiders should be investigated.
- Local shopkeepers of all local markets should keep a close watch on their customers’ activities – any suspicious buys or any dodgy behaviour should be reported immediately.
- Teachers of any society can play a key role in building the future of the nation. Weekly lectures to children of all ages on identifying strangers, prevention from getting abducted and sharing the events of any uncomfortable or unusual activity with parents is important.
- Parents who send their children to madrassas for religious education should keep a routine check on what kind of teachings their children are acquiring from that particular institute.
- A close contact between government officials and neighbourhood committees is very important for these exercises.
As far as the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are concerned, they should be located properly in temporary camps but with higher monitoring and scanning. During the last operation in Swat, many of the militants ran to urban cities like Karachi and Lahore disguised as IDPs. These people should be kept in one place and under observation rather than moving them to locations far away from their original residence. The federal government should provide the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government the funds they require for the rehabilitation of these IDPs.
We, as a nation, need to realise that this war is not one the armed forces can fight alone. Our enemies are not across the border; they are living amongst us, probably on the same street as us. Therefore, we need to participate actively in this operation ourselves and do whatever it is that we can do to help out. If we want to save our country then collective measures need to be taken as this may be our only chance to strike out terrorism from our beloved nation forever. Don’t let the opportunity go, don’t lose momentum.