By Abdullah Khan
After months, rather years, of refusing US pressure for a military operation in North Waziristan the government seems to have bowed down in front of American demands and a military action looks eminent in coming days. According to a report of Dawn News, Security forces on Sunday (November 13) clamped curfew on various parts of North Waziristan border region for an indefinite period. According to sources, the main road connecting Miramshah to Bannu district has been blocked for all kinds of traffic.
The News reported on same day that militants are distributing pamphlets to threat retaliatory attacks against Pakistani security forces. Amid rising tension in the volatile North Waziristan tribal region, the Taliban operating there have disbanded the jirga set up for holding talks with the government and warned of retaliation if the authorities resorted to any repressive act in future. The local Taliban Shura, or council, headed by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, Saturday made this announcement through leaflets issued in Miramshah, the main administrative town of North Waziristan, and accused the government of violating the peace accord signed with them first in September 2006 and later in 2007.
The NWA Peace Committee headed by a local cleric Maulana Gul Ramazan, which brokered the peace accord between the government and Taliban, was also critical of the latest action by the security forces and accused them of violating the peace agreement. Maulana Gul Ramazan and Hafiz Noorullah Shah, the two clerics who are leaders of the peace committee, said the government and military officials had promised that members of the committee would be taken into confidence before launching any action against the militants in North Waziristan.
Is it a wise decision to start a new battle front when recently All Parties Conference organized by government itself has called for an ‘end’ to all ongoing military operations and start dialogue with the militants? What are the circumstances which do not allow Pakistan to tackle extremism on its own soil through peaceful and productive means? While US itself is searching for brokers to talk with Taliban led by Mullah Umer it is not comprehensible that we start to fight with our own citizens on the behest of America.
The All Parties Conference was called and organized by the government itself. The resolution passed in the APC was agreed upon by all participants but it is weird that president Asif Ali Zardari has promised a military operation in North Waziristan to a visiting US senator. Are we going to lose the trust we have developed overtime in North Waziristan?
Another aspect of any possible military operation in North Waziristan in these days is that chances of success of any military operation in winter season are very bleak. The only success Pakistan can achieve will be US satisfaction for the time being but it will lose the trust of those tribal elders and clerics who had brokered the prevailing peace deal in North Waziristan in 2006 and 2007. The nation is calling for dialogue with militants. Will it be possible to meet this demand in future when we are already not showing seriousness to the collective wisdom?
The menace of extremism and militancy in FATA has no military solution. Deterrence should be kept at number one place but dialogue and development are the two basic tools to fix the problem in the long run. Pakistan needs to establish its writ on all parts of FATA however we should keep in mind that military operations are not the only way to establish writ of the government. We had conducted successful operations in Swat and South Waziristan but both the areas are gradually falling back to militants because of the absent of political process. Awami National Party’s government could not help Pakistani military on political front except Mian Iftikhar’s press statements. The military has done its job but it was not backed up politically neither in Swat nor in South Waziristan.
North Waziristan is considered home to anti-US militants who refrain to attack Pakistani security forces. Despite this fact Pakistan has to prove itself as a responsible state by not allowing its soil to conduct attacks against any other nation of the world. However a military operation may make things even worse for US and Afghanistan as well. It will not be possible for Pakistani Army to fully eradicate the menace of militancy from the area. It may proliferate in other areas of the FATA and across the border as well. Despite many military operations in Pakistan, the attacks by Afghan Taliban on NATO forces are ever increasing. Instead of military operation a dialogue which should take care of Pakistan’s international commitments may serve the purpose well. There is a need to refresh the prevailing peace agreement with militants in North Waziristan. The government should table this condition as a basic requisite for any future peace arrangements that the militants will not use Pakistani soil for planning or executing any types of attacks on any other nation of the world. If the militants respect Pakistan’s international commitments then, in return, the government and military must play their role in ending drone attacks in North Waziristan.