The War Continues...

Written By: Abdullah Khan

It is a long war and despite remarkable successes of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, terrorist attacks cannot be stopped completely unless some major political and security issues around Pakistan are not resolved. Our security forces will have to remain alert and well prepared to minimize the damage while the public will have to keep its morale up. Pakistan is the only Muslim nuclear state with the most organized Armed Forces, state institutions that function better than many in the region and a major role in regional connectivity through CPEC.

The recent wave of terror in Pakistan has jolted the nation. Questions are being raised on sustainability of gains of Zarb-e-Azb and national policies against terrorism are also being grilled. It is a natural reaction because in four days, from February 13 to February 16, terrorists carried out 12 attacks in which 129 people were killed including 103 civilians and 22 security forces personnel and 365 people were injured including 356 civilians and nine security forces personnel. Four of these twelve attacks were suicide attacks carried out in Lahore, Mohmand Agency (FATA), Peshawar, and Sehwan Sharif (Sindh).


Although the reaction is natural as mentioned earlier, however, if the situation is seen in an overall context then one can do a better analysis. Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies’s militancy database shows that average militant attacks in 2014 before Zarb-e-Azb were 161 attacks per month. With Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan, Operation Khyber I and Khyber II in Khyber Agency, targeted operation in Karachi, intelligence based operations in mainland and adoption of National Action Plan at political level, the violence dropped to an average of 42 militant attacks per month during the last two and half years. In fact, the number of militant attacks dropped below the year 2007 when a sudden rise was seen in violence against the state after Lal Masjid Operation. The same year in December, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was formed which subsequently captured areas in South and North Waziristan and vast areas in Malakand Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


thewarcounties.jpgAs the current wave of violence in Pakistan is in one way or the other linked with international terrorism we can better comprehend gains of our security forces by comparing them with other countries fighting against terrorism. It is a matter of fact that during the last fifteen years, no other country except Sri Lanka could reclaim such a vast area from militants as Pakistan Armed Forces did. Pakistan also played a vital role in supporting Sri Lankan Armed Froces in defeating Tamil Tigers in Jafna. Pakistan Armed Forces set an example by clearing Malakand Division, Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, South and North Waziristan agencies. During the same period, across the border in Afghanistan the world’s best armies led by the United States were struggling to contain militant threat. Taliban spread to far long areas like Badakhshan and other northern parts of the country. Most of the rural area of our neighbouring country is practically ruled by Taliban insurgents. America and her allies failed to contain violence in Iraq which is spread across Syria and now most of the Middle East is on fire due to failure of western military interventions. Libya was also pushed into civil war by western military intervention while Yemen and Somalia are also engulfed in civil wars. In contrast, Pakistan Armed Forces can be seen distinct from the rest of the world with lots of success stories in defeating militants despite facing financial and technological constraints.

Thanks to Zarb-e-Azb, it is for the first time during the last fifteen years that no area or even a pocket of area is under militant control. Major militant groups fighting against Pakistan faced serious defections. TTP split in to at least four sub-groups, one of them is Jamat-ul-Ahrar. All these groups were flushed out from FATA and now they are operating from Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nangarhar provinces. They are being fed by anti-Pakistan forces active in the region. Unless there is sustainable peace in Afghanistan and writ of the state is established in all parts of our neighbouring country, groups like TTP, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Aalami, BLA, BRA, and others will keep flourishing and their activities cannot be completely diminished. Negative role of Afghan government and its National Directorate of Security (NDS) is one of the major impediments in this regard.

Afghan government is not serious in dialogue with Taliban and instead passes the buck on Pakistan for its own ineptness. NDS is involved in patronizing those groups which are active against Pakistani interests. It is believed that NDS is hand-in-glove with Indian intelligence agency RAW in targeting Pakistani interests. There cannot be a bigger manifestation of shortsightedness of NDS that to weaken Taliban insurgents, it kept supporting Daesh in the country. It should have been known to everyone that Daesh would not serve anyone’s interests in the longer run. It carries an agenda of destruction of everyone. Afghanistan or any other country, regional or extra regional forces who thinks they use Daesh for their interests must realize that they are actually being used by Daesh. The group is gradually strengthening its roots in Afghanistan and poses a serious threat to regional security. Its presence will drag more forces into Afghanistan, which is already facing serious law and order situation due to the presence of foreign troops on its soil.

Although operational network of Daesh could not make a point in Pakistan but the group has found some useful local partners such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Aalami, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, Lashkar-e-Islam, and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Especially, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Aalami is providing its infrastructure in Balochistan and Sindh to the Middle Eastern group. According to sources, Daesh has an agreement with LeJ-A and other groups that information about certain high profile attacks will be passed on to Daesh to claim responsibility. The attacks on Lal Shabaz Qalander’s shrine in Sehvan Sharif, Sindh and Shah Noorani’s shrine in Khuzdar, Balochistan are prominent examples of such an agreement. Both the attacks were carried out by LeJ-A while responsibility was accepted by Daesh. Objective of such collaboration is to highlight the attacks at international level and put Pakistani government and armed forces under immense pressure. According to a PICSS security report, commanders of TTP, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, Daesh, Lashkar-e-Isalam and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi-Al-Aalami held a meeting in Khost, Afghanistan last year and decided that they will target Pakistan with joint efforts. It was also decided that local groups would pass on information of certain attacks to Daesh to claim responsibility. Certain attacks in Peshawar claimed by Daesh were also actually carried out by the local groups.

The spat of violence in February 2017 resembles the sudden surge in violence in January 2016 when militants carried out suicide attacks against polio workers in Quetta, Khasadar Force in Karkhano area of Khyber Agency, Bacha Khan University in Charsadda and other attacks. However, security forces managed to control the situation and overall violence in 2016 saw a further 27 percent decline in number of attacks and resultant deaths. Average militant attacks per month further dropped in 2016 from 60 to 42 which was 161 before June 2014 when Operation Zarb-e-Azb started. During the two and a half years that followed Zarb-e-Azb, the country witnessed 68 percent reduction in militant attacks, 62 percent decline in resultant deaths and 48 percent decrease in injuries.


thewarcounties2.jpgPattern of violence shows that capability of terrorists to frequently target security forces has significantly diminished due to Zarb-e-Azb and IBOs thus, they have resorted to hit soft targets. Selecting civilian targets create chaos in the society, and creating mistrust between people and the armed forces is one of the objectives the militants want to achieve. One of the major reasons of targeting civilians is to revive financial pipelines of militants. Pakistani security forces have dismantled kidnapping for ransom networks largely, which was providing a major source of income for militants.

It is a crucial time for Pakistani society to stand up to the threat of terrorism and not budge under pressure. It is high time for Pakistani media, civil society, political and religious leadership to guide the populace and help them stand against terrorism united.


It is a crucial time for Pakistani society to stand up to the threat of terrorism and not budge under pressure. It is high time for Pakistani media, civil society, political and religious leadership to guide the populace and help them stand against terrorism united.

Unfortunately, a section of our media is playing a central role in demoralizing the public in the face of terrorism. Despite apparently absolute freedom of expression, in the United States, the media downplays losses in War on Terror. There is an official ban on the coverage of funerals of dead soldiers and media cameras are not allowed in graveyards during these funerals. The objective of such restrictions is to avoid demoralizing public. In stark contrast, we demoralize our public by showing the dead and injured and their funerals, as well as live coverage of terror attacks. It has been pointed out so many times that live coverage of militant attacks should be avoided yet only occasional restraint has been seen in the practice. While analyzing propaganda videos of militants in Pakistan, one notices that a major chunk of material is obtained from video clips of Pakistani TV channels.

It is a long war and despite remarkable successes of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, militant attacks cannot be stopped completely unless some major political and security issues around Pakistan are not resolved. Our security forces will have to remain alert and well prepared to minimize the damage while the public will have to keep its morale up. Pakistan is the only Muslim nuclear state with the most organized Armed Forces, state institutions that function better than many in the region and a major role in regional connectivity through CPEC. Therefore, it attracts a variety of enemies for a number of reasons. We will have to stand up against all threats and cannot lower our guard for a single moment. Pakistan has a bright future ahead and these are testing time for the nation. Let us stand firm against all negative forces that are active against Pakistan.
Pakistan Zindabad!


The writer is Managing Director Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies. He is an expert on militancy and regional security.

He tweets at @Abdullahkhan333

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India’s China War Revisited (2) A Dispute is Born

Written By: Maj Gen (Retd) Salim Ullah

The Twin Dispute

The first dispute was related to the North East, created by the British, specifically by Olaf Caroe – the Lawrence of India – in the mid 1930s. He resurrected the idea of annexing a swathe of Chinese territory in the Northeast, in order to give India what in the 19th and early 20th century was called a strategic frontier, a nonsensical concept in the modern age. At any rate, the idea was to occupy a stretch of Chinese territory at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The original 1914 attempt failed; it was a fiasco. And the idea was forgotten but resurrected by Olaf Caroe in the mid-1930s, so that India inherited a border dispute with China. It had been going on from the early 1940s when the British began to move into the territory they wished to acquire. And the Chinese government 'complained and complained again' at the British intrusions into what the Chinese regarded as their own territory.

Interestingly, not only Chinese but all international maps showed the international border at an alignment beneath the foothills. That was common ground between London, Delhi, Shillong, Nanking, and Lhasa. All five governments concerned knew the border lay beneath the foothills. But beginning 1940 or thereabouts, the British began moving forward into that territory to acquire what they thought of as a strategic frontier. So that dispute was alive and kicking and it was the first matter to be addressed by Prime Minister-cum-Foreign Minister Nehru when India became independent and he assumed those offices. Nehru made a profound political, diplomatic, psychological mistake. He came to the conclusion that, provided India quickly made good of that new boundary alignment, he could then say to China “Well that's it, that's our boundary, nothing more to discuss about it, it's not open to negotiation, you've got to live with it.” The new maps also revised the boundary in the East so as to include the Himalayan hill crest as the boundary. In some places, this line is a few kilometres north of the McMahon Line.

As for the second dispute, Nehru used that same approach and applied it to the other front of Sino-India territorial impingement, the western sector. He decided, on ambitious advice or self-conceit, that this was not a matter to be discussed with China. The alignment of the Western border was to be ascertained by Indian enquiries into the record, by consideration of India's interests. So he and his advisors came up with an alignment far in advance of anything ever claimed by the British. On July 1, 1954 Nehru issued a directive requiring the maps of India to be revised to show definite boundaries on all frontiers, where they were previously indicated as un-demarcated. See Maps 3 and 4. Interestingly, these new maps also showed the countries of Bhutan and Sikkim as part of India. Nehru made an extraordinary misjudgment and the one that, to quote Neville Maxwell, was to “destroy him and to cost India, China, and indeed the international community dearly.”

K. Subrahmaniam who then served as a deputy secretary in the Ministry of Defence comments that several officers in the Ministry differed with India's interpretation of the border alignment but most chose discretion for fear of censure, much like the rest of senior bureaucracy, both military and civil. “Play safe” remained the order of the day. He laments that Nehru had been fed with myths all along,”….the (eventual) break up of the fourth Indian army division at Kameng in 1962 was such a blow to Jawaharlal Nehru that he probably never really recovered from it….. . a failure which led to a considerable diminution of his image.” Forward Policy

The stage was thus set for open hostilities. The Indian government first used the word 'aggression' against China in 1958 when Indian army found a small Chinese/Tibetan outpost in the middle section of the frontier – Uttar Pradesh [Bara Hoti] – on Indian-claimed territory. In 1959, India embarked upon a provocative 'Forward Policy' in the disputed region. According to James Barnard Calvin of the U.S. Navy War College, “This policy created skirmishes and deteriorating relations between India and China. The aim of the forward policy was to create outposts behind Chinese troops to interdict their supplies, forcing them north of the disputed line. Eventually, there were as many as 60 such outposts established, including 43 north of the McMahon Line, in flagrant violation of even India's claimed line.”

Since the early 1950s, India had begun actively, albeit clandestinely, patrolling the region. It was discovered by troops that at multiple locations, the highest ridges actually lay well north of the McMahon Line. The troops were ordered to occupy the ridge line in the region regardless. Given India's self-assumed interpretation that the 'original intent' of the McMahon Line was to separate the two nations by the highest mountains in the world, in these locations India extended her forward posts northward to the ridges, taking this move to be in line with the 'intent and spirit' of the original border proposal. Indian analysts concede that this was an absurd assumption and the Simla Convention 1914 stated no such intention, latent or otherwise.

As stated earlier, after the Tibetan revolt had been crushed by the People's Liberation Army in a battle at Chamdo in 1950, Lhasa recognized Chinese sovereignty over Tibet in 1951. Exploiting the Tibetan unrest, the Indian Army occupied Tawang, overcoming light armed resistance and expelling its Tibetan administrators. Beginning in 1956, the CIA used this Indian-controlled territory to recruit and train Tibetan guerrillas to fight Chinese troops, with a base nearby in Kalimpong, India. It soon geared up work on a clandestine agenda of regime change in Tibet its favourite pastime. Paradoxically, at this stage Nehru did not look too kindly to the uprising in Tibet. G. Parthasarthi, India's ambassador to China at the time commented that Nehru was 'no friend of the Tibetan cause.’ He found Nehru in agreement with Indian communist leader, SA Dange, who believed that it was the 'masses' which had revolted against the 'feudal landlords' in Tibet. In August 1959, the Chinese Army took an Indian patrol prisoner at Longju, which falls north of the McMahon Line coordinates drawn on the Simla Treaty, signed in 1914. India, however, claimed it to lie directly on the McMahon Line. There was another bloody clash in October 1959 at Kongka Pass in Aksai Chin in which 9 Indian frontier policemen were killed. Recognizing that it was not ready for war, the Indian Army pulled back patrols from disputed areas.

On October 2, 1959 Nikita Khrushchev defended Nehru in a meeting with Mao. Premier Chou would later disclose to Neville Maxwell that the Indian government believed what the Russians told them that China would not retaliate them. The Soviet Union's backing to Nehru as well as the United States' unqualified support boosted India to press on with her forward policy. On 16 October, China protested against Indian incursion on the Thag La Ridge. A few days after Kongka Pass incident, Chinese Prime Minister Chou Enlai proposed each side to withdraw 20 kilometres from a "Line of Actual Control". He defined this line as "the so-called McMahon Line in the east and the line up to which each side exercises actual control in the west." Nehru, persisting with his ascendant attitude, responded with a counter proposal to turn the disputed area into a no man's land. The Chinese border guards displayed surprising restraint that further emboldened the Indian commanders. Thus the line of contact kept moving northward. The 'new conquests' on the field made Nehru even more intransigent

The Whole Truth Sufficient evidence is now available from credible independent as well as Indian sources to suggest that the hype and paranoia created by India about the Chinese 'invasion' was one-sided and malafide. That Nehru had an innate jealousy, if not hatred, for China which is supported by several authentic accounts. Freshly unclassified records reveal B.N. Mullick, India's first Director of the Intelligence Bureau, disclosing what Nehru told him when he first became the director, “India has two enemies, one is Pakistan, the other is China”. The experience of G. Parthasarthi, as quoted above, was not much different. As documented by B G Verghese, an eminent writer presently associated with the Centre for Policy Research New Delhi, in Tibet Sun of 5 October 2012, “G. Parthasarathi met Nehru on the evening of 18 March 1958 prior to his departure for Peking as the new Indian Ambassador to China.” The distinguished Indian diplomat recorded Nehru's briefing in these terms: “So GP, what has the Foreign Office told you? Hindi-Chini-bhai-bhai? Don't you believe it! I don't trust the Chinese one bit. They are a deceitful, opinionated, arrogant and hegemonistic lot. Eternal vigilance should be your watchword. You should send all your telegrams only to me not to the Foreign Office. Also, do not mention a word of this instruction of mine to Krishna (Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon).” This is about the time that India had become aware of the truth about the McMahon Line: that it was forged, never agreed to and far in advance of anything ever claimed by the British.”

And so was the alignment of the western border that, according to objective Indian analysts like Karunakar Gupta and BG Verghese, “lacked any foundation in history, treaty, or practice; an alignment which claimed Aksai Chin.” Chou Enlai visited India in 1960, “begging for an agreement on the McMahon Line”, states Neville Maxwell, author of the authentic India's China War, in an interview with Kai Friese carried by Outlook, India, dated 22 October 2012. This was just about the time when Indian troops were sitting far beyond the McMahon Line, having by-passed the Chinese border posts at several places. China made a “genuinely peaceful proposal”, says Maxwell, “this is our understanding of where the traditional and customary boundary in that sector lies, and we would be very happy to discuss it….We are sure we will find an alignment perfectly acceptable to both of us.” This is an approach that China had applied with every one of her neighbours and had a dozen mutually satisfactory boundary agreements to show for it, including the Sino-Soviet agreement. But because of the expansionist Indian claim, essentially on Aksai Chin, “a fanciful, irredentist claim to territory that had nothing to do with India, boundary settlement became impossible (emphasis added).” During the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in London held in September, 1962, Harold Macmillan advised Nehru to back off and seek a negotiated settlement. He also passed on some records including maps from the India Office Library showing the origin of India-China boundary. But, alas, the die had been cast.

(To be Continued….)
The writer is a visiting faculty at the NDU, Islamabad, a former DG ISPR and a former diplomat. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad and Concept of Responsible Neighbourhood

Written By: Muhammad Azeem

Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad aims at cleansing the society from the menace of terrorism and uprooting the terrorists’ sympathizers, facilitators and remnants. This noble cause would need comprehensive and wholehearted participation of the society to achieve the desired end state. Operation Zarb-e-Azb, launched in June 2014, has already achieved significant successes in fight against terrorism in North Waziristan in particular and the FATA and other parts of the country in general. With the clearance of the Shawal Valley, the last stronghold of terrorists in North Waziristan Agency, Operation Zarb-e-Azb reached its culmination, though the terrorist threat has transited to our urban areas with implicit support of few elements of the society and full backing of foreign intelligence agencies. In order to counter the threat which is imbedded in the public and lies beyond the police capacity, Radd-ul-Fasaad is the way forward to stabilize the security situation. As stated by ISPR, operation Radd-ul-Fasaad will be jointly conducted by Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, Rangers and other Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), focusing on the ingress of the terrorists in the society. Scope of such a large operation demands active public participation to achieve the desired results. Systematic inclusion of society in this endeavour of national significance would be of paramount importance.

During pre-partition era, the British established a well-orchestrated system of public participation in running state affairs. In comparatively settled areas, Zaildar and Lumberdari system was established for revenue collection and their appointments were also used in extending the writ of the state to the far flung areas. Village headman was de-facto state representative in the village. While dealing with the tribal society particularly in Balochistan, the British invoked the most powerful institution of Sardars and Nawabs. These tribal heads were assisted by an elaborate mechanism at every tier of tribal society, starting from the Nawab to the Chief of tribe, Muqadam, Mir, Wadera and finally, till the lowest tier of Sirtakery (village headman). Levies Force was authorized to them for enforcing the state writ within their tribal jurisdictions.

After independence, these local community based institutions lost their importance due to lack of state patronage. Politically motivated local government system could not replace this very effective lowest tier mechanism of governance, however, the potential benefits of such a system should not be lost especially in an environment demanding security consciousness. Based on my experience of serving in Balochistan and FATA, there is a vacuum of governance at the grassroot level through community participation. The proposed system shall replace the colonial system of community participation in governance and help in establishing the writ of the state. Proposed system should be fine-tuned in the existing local government system with least financial effects. This will help achieve the objectives of operation Radd-ul-Fasaad and make the gains sustainable in the long term. As envisaged, neighbourhood communities shall be created and registered at street/mohallah/village levels comprising 10-40 houses. The clusters of neighbourhood should be grouped under Ward Councilor in the existing local government system and the tier of Ward Councilor improved to include the security aspects. In addition, National Guards formed under 1973 Act, shall also be integrated in this concept.

In this concept, neighbourhood refers to a small community (10-40 houses) which is living in the same contiguous locality. The residents of this community may or may not be relatives or from the same ethnic or sectarian/religious background. Every neighbourhood member/house shall register with their mutually nominated elder. Neighbourhood elder should maintain the complete profile of his neighbourhood and record any changes within his community. He should report to his Ward Councilor in case of any unusual happening which is not in line with the NAP or government policy laid down from time to time.

Responsibilities of neighbourhood elder should include maintaining profile of his neighbourhood community and submitting monthly report to his Ward Councilor for any change in profile. As the system matures, various phone applications can be developed for updates. He should also report any unusual happening in his neighbourhood to the authorities. Every house of the neighbourhood should be registered with neighbourhood elder and each house should have the following tag on his house gate:
The proposed system will help in extending the writ of the state. Neighbourhood elder, being part of the community, can keep an eye on his neighbourhood. Any unusual happening leading to an act of terrorism/human-induced disaster involving people from his neighbourhood should make him answerable to the state apparatus. LEAs will have an established contact person (neighbourhood elder) in each neighbourhood. Any household which refuses to abide by the laid down policy would be liable to questioning by the LEAs.

In the cities, neighbourhood community may not be homogeneous and may resist registration. Therefore, legislation and motivation by local leadership/LAEs will be required to make them part of this system. Ethnic/sectarian division in the society may also impede the implementation of this concept. Proposed system must ensure that special provisions are made to ensure protection of vulnerable members of the society/neighbourhood. Neighbourhood elders should be made responsible for ensuring safety of vulnerable community members living in his jurisdiction.


Structure of Proposed System

Implementation of this concept should involve the local community in sharing their responsibilities toward establishing the writ of the state. LEAs will be facilitated and chances of incidences like Osama Bin Laden compound going unnoticed will be minimized under the proposed system. As a pilot project, proposed concept can be introduced in Tehsil Kalar of District Rawalpindi. Being constituency of the current Interior Minister, implementation of concept is likely to be facilitated.


The writer is a Disaster Management scholar.

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Radd-ul-Fasaad: The Final Showdown

Written By: Hasan Khan

The fresh wave of terrorism, particularly the deadly terrorists’ attacks in Lahore and Sehwan Sharif, has forced the government to launch a countrywide security operation against militants, their facilitators and sanctuaries.

The campaign – Radd-ul-Fasaad – having major focus on urban centers, is believed to be long anticipated and needed too; following the purging from militants the ‘peripheries’ particularly the tribal areas and adjoining districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the hard-fought military actions.

Apparently seemed to be launched as a reaction to the fresh wave of terrorism, however, well informed quarters believe that this campaign is part of the grand military strategy prepared and followed for years now. When this grand strategy was formed, the fear of militants was widespread in society. In certain areas, they were having physical control of territories and predominantly targeting personnel of security forces, law enforcement agencies and government installations.


The campaign – Radd-ul-Fasaad – having major focus on urban centers, is believed to be long anticipated and needed too; following the purging from militants the ‘peripheries’ particularly the tribal areas and adjoining districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the hard-fought military actions.

It was decided then to go gradual. Starting from scrubbing the crust of the earth first, denying the militants from holding any physical space before targeting the militants and their facilitators in their underground sanctuaries particularly in the urban centers of Punjab.

No doubt, by its very nature, Radd-ul-Fasaad is not going to be an easy exercise. It’s going to be tougher and more complicated as it brings the war against militants into the streets of densely populated centers.

Additionally, it’s not area specific but covering the entire country. Here the law enforcement agencies have to go deep and clear the underground sanctuaries instead of sweeping the crust.


radulfasadfinal.jpgIn all the earlier military offensives, the battles were limited to certain geographical areas, with options of evacuating the entire population, isolating terrorists and their sanctuaries; and more freedom to use heavy weaponry including artillery, gunship helicopters or jet fighters. Radd-ul-Fasaad has no such option of isolating the terrorists by evacuating the population. And being fought in urban streets there is limited or no option of using artillery or gunship helicopters.

So it was primarily planned to be an intelligence-based offensive, where the target was to be first identified through actionable intelligence before going and fishing them out from the midst of the populace.

However, since its launch on February 22 till date, the way this ‘final showdown’ against the-now-invisible enemy is carried out; one does not find the tempo and impetus of previously conducted operations, which were conducted in a conventional military style. It was planned to be an intelligence-based countrywide affair, in order to convey a strong message to the enemies and their facilitators, that now they can’t run or hide from a certain area to another and avoid action.


No doubt, by its very nature, Radd-ul-Fasaad is not going to be an easy exercise. It’s going to be tougher and more complicated as it brings the war against militants into the streets of densely populated centers.

Besides Pakistan Armed Forces, the operation also includes police and other LEAs. From initial action of police, it seemed to be the typical random ‘pakhar dakhar’ of police. From the word go, the very first impression somehow created, was that the campaign is aimed at targeting persons of a particular ethnic background or those belonging to specific areas. This unintended consequence is detrimental not only for the operation but also a negative to be exploited by the enemies of the federation of Pakistan. Particularly, Pakistan Army leadership must take notice of it and curb this practice without delay.

Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad was planned to be a precise, result oriented exercise having an element of ‘surprise’; not striking randomly or arresting people on the basis of mere doubts or having certain complexions. As of now, on many occasions we see the typical policing mentality is in the working. The way it was initiated gave an impression that the personnel of law enforcement agencies already knew where the militants and facilitators were hiding and they were just waiting for orders. The usual target areas are the slums and localities where low income or poor people are living. This police activity including intelligence setups appears good for optics or a typical police ‘karguzari’ aimed at furnishing a ‘sub-acha’ report. Terrorists and militants are not ordinary thieves or street criminals to be brow beaten by going in an utterly disorganized way or creating a chaotic situation by exercising the hit-or-miss option. The sooner we realize to re-organize our actions the better; otherwise this ‘national campaign’ may not produce the desired results. And we must make all efforts to make it a success; a final decision blow to the enemy.

By virtue of the fact that the battleground is lying deep in populations’ centers, Radd-ul-Fasaad is, no doubt, a most complicated battle. It is a test of both the political and military leadership where failure is not an option at all.

To create the desired national impact and send a strong message to the enemies; that there is no place for them to hide; the political leadership, both in government and opposition, the civil society and all law enforcement agencies have to be on the same page.

Due to sheer propaganda on ethnic persecution, by creating a rift – or a sense of rift – in the society vis-à-vis the campaign, we are reinforcing our failures to the benefit of enemies and their facilitators both within and abroad.

The current state of random and haphazard style must be shunned immediately. It has to be made a national campaign where all arms of security apparatus including the Army, Air Force, Navy and Rangers be involved in the true sense and law enforcement agencies be assisted through actionable intelligence.


To create the desired national impact and send a strong message to the enemies; that there is no place for them to hide; the political leadership, both in government and opposition, the civil society and all law enforcement agencies have to be on the same page.

No doubt, failure is not an option for the nation but here the success too is not an easy goal. As believed to be a ‘final showndown’ we shall be ready for a long drawn nerve wrecking exercise.

We shall be mindful of the fact that once the ‘direct or latent terrorist threats’ are eliminated, the next phase will be definitely targeting the sectarian and other extremist organizations. It is part of the grand purging strategy. As such organizations may not pose immediate or direct threat, however, they are instrumental in radicalizing the society and bringing bad name to the country. Facts are also revealing that majority of the militants who joined the terrorists or jihadi organizations were once part of different sectarian groups.

It’s going to be tough for reasons that unlike past anti-militant adventures, where heavy weapons were used, here we will be combing the entire population for picking the bad boys through sheer intelligence. For successful intelligence we need to have the confidence of the people which is possible only through winning their hearts and minds.

It has be made indiscriminate and broad based while targeting the militants and their organizations with no leniency for ethnic or political backgrounds. Otherwise, potentially, it can spoil the gains of past military offensives to the benefit of the enemy.

Moreover, the new leadership of the army has to be conscious of the fact that irrespective of which law enforcement agency is conducting the campaign, people expect results from them.

Military has to its credit the conduct of the toughest of campaign against militants and Radd-ul-Fasaad shall prove to be a culmination of all the anti-militant campaigns. So it’s a test of the new military leadership.

Of all the military operations, Rah-e-Rast – launched in May 2009 in Swat valley by former COAS Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani – was the most difficult military offensive. Militants had taken over physical control of Swat valley following a peace deal with government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The campaign displaced almost 2.5 million people, however, within a span of three months, not only the entire valley was cleared and handed over to civilian administration, but all the displaced people were rehabilitated.

Former COAS Gen Raheel Sharif too has to his credit taking the wars to the most difficult terrains and heavily forested valleys of Shawal and Tirah in North Waziristan and Khyber Agencies by launching Zarb-e-Azb, and destroying the command and control centers of hardened militant organizations. The era of Gen Kiyani and Gen Raheel was the era of clearing the peripheries.

Today as the fighting against militants has entered the urban centers, the people have more but genuine expectations from the new commander of Pakistan Army, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa – who no doubt is new on the seat but has been on the scene for very long.


The writer is a senior journalist, analyst and anchor person.

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