ARE THEY REALLY ACTS OF COWARDICE?

Recently in two separate instances of terror attacks in North Waziristan and Balochistan, at ten soldiers were killed. In the first case by terrorists to show their influence in the area and in the second case by the militants demanding to restore the public’s right. Pakistan government needs to take these incidences seriously and identify the reasons behind these attacks rather than calling them just act of cowardice.

North Waziristan

North Waziristan comprises the area west and south-west of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) between the Kurram River  to the north and the Gomal River to the south. Right from beginning entire KPK province and North Waziristan in particular have been the hub for the bloody confrontations between the security forces and the armed terrorists.

Alone in 2014, about 929,859 people were reported to be internally displaced from North Waziristan as a result of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a military offensive conducted by the Pakistan Armed Forces along the Durand Line. In the series of operation latest one has been “Radd-ul-Fasaad” which was commenced by the Pakistani Army in Feb 2017. Though it was carried out with an aim to eliminate the residual elements of terrorists from the area consolidating the gains of Zarb-e-Azb but delay of almost two years between the two operations was questioned by many. In fact, security forces, who were till then harbouring certain factions of terrorists by providing safe haven in Pakistani territory, were forced to react following a series of terror attacks in various provinces of the Pakistan including the deadly attack at the  Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar  on 16 February 2017, where more than 90 pilgrims were killed.

The operation, which is an ongoing process, has so far resulted in killing of more than 1400 militants and arrest of approximately 2000. Once again the questions were asked, how come such a large number of militants were operating in the region. Army paid a heavy price by losing 500 plus soldiers and it is still continuing.

Bloodied Pakistan

So much has been the bloodshed in Pakistan that in a data compiled by the independent South Asia Terrorism Portal shows that from 2000 to May 2019, more than 64000 people have been killed all across Pakistan including 34,000 terrorists, 7,120 security forces personnel and more than 23000 civilians.

On the other hand, Balochistan, which is in reality an occupied region, has been fighting for the greater political freedom.  Ever since its merger with Pakistan there have been five uprisings against the state, starting from 1948. The current insurgency, considered to be the largest one, was started in 2003 which is supposed to be on the decline. However, the recent attacks by the members of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) indicate otherwise.

Indicators

The latest two terror attacks are testaments to the fact that Pakistan has not done enough to rein in the terrorism in KPK and has not addressed the problem of Balochistan pragmatically.  These attacks show why Pakistan is still suffering from terror. Though, DG ISPR, will still talk about the undermining of sacrifices of Pakistan Armed forces by the rest of the world, but he needs to understand that these so called sacrifices are the result of having the terrorists in the backyard calling them good Talibans and the failure of Pakistan government to understand the exact reasons of Baloch militancy.  

These events cannot be called as the show of cowardice only. In both the cases the attackers have attacked the armed security personnel and not like the security forces blamed of picking up innocents and making them disappear for good. The attackers did not want to undermine the regional peace, as stated by many, but perhaps they wanted to drive home certain lessons, which the establishment has failed to comprehend.

Viewpoint

People of Balochistan need to be heard for their demands for their safety, for better standing in the society, for better financial conditions and greater political freedom. Till that happens, such attacks cannot be prevented and there will certainly be more bloodbaths. Pakistan may claim having endured such acts of aggression in the past with courage and to do so in future too but is that the real solution? The government   must understand as to why Balochistan is so restive? What is the nature of militant resistance? There has to be a political solution and that needs to be identified at the earliest, because that is the only way for the normalcy in the region.  

Attack at North Waziristan, from across the Afghan border may be connected to the ongoing negotiations with Taliban and the role Imran Khan has promised to play during his recent meeting with Donald Trump. But it cannot be the only reason. There is a need for introspection of the government’s policies about the good and the bad Talibans and be more compassionate handling the Balochistan issues.

Pakistan may have suffered enormously while fighting terrorism but it must not resort to the same tactics and assist the rogue agencies carrying out terror attacks in some other country. Unless that happens, everyone will keep suffering enormously.

29 Jul 19/Monday            Written by Azadazraq