Pakistan military to surgically target TTP, not launch all-out assault on FATA

Posted by Admin On Thursday, 20 February 2014 0 comments
The administration of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who came to power last year promising to find a negotiated peace with the Taliban, has been trying to engage the militants in talks but these efforts have faltered in past weeks.
Pakistan Army-Taliban
The Pakistan Army on Wednesday said more than 100 soldiers had been killed by Taliban militants in the last five months: a rare admission of mass casualties since the start of government efforts to engage the insurgents in peace talks. Although the total number of soldiers who have been martyred in terror attacks since 2007 – or since the GWOT began in Pakistan – are considered to be over 10,000, the Pakistan Army has never released a periodic tally of its human losses against Taliban insurgents, a group operating separately from its Afghan namesake, and striving to overthrow the Islamabad government and install an Islamic state. The Army provides information and data to news sources and outlets whenever a terror attack occurs and military personnel are wounded or killed, but this data is revealed to the public by the media, and not announced by the military spokesperson’s office. Tallies of this data on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis are kept by various research institutions as well as state organizations and bureaus, but the release of the tally of the Pakistan Army’s martyrs during the timespan between the APC (when the Army’s unilateral ceasefire was completely set) till date – especially in terms of its troops, whose identity and association with the military is completely documented from time of entry to time of last assignment – is alarming and has come at a crucial time during Pakistan’s wavering (and now perhaps moribund) peace initiative with the belligerent TTP.
Requesting anonymity, security officials have released figures according to which 308 civilians, 114 military personnel and 38 police officers had been killed since September 2013. From January 1 to February 18 – in the first 47 days of this year – 47 terror attacks took place (literally at the rate of one per day) and while the number of deaths range from 100 to 250 to 300, the number of injured is well above 500.
According to the Daily Times:
Some 460 innocent people have been killed in terrorist attacks across the country since the government held an all-parties conference (APC) on September 10 last year…
“The dead include 308 civilians, 114 military personnel and 38 policemen,” the official said. He said that some 1,264 people were injured in the terrorist attacks by Taliban in the same period. “The injured include 684 civilians, 531 military personnel and 49 policemen,” he added. A total of 70 people have been killed since the reconciliation effort was launched on January 29.
It was September 2013 when Sharif convened a much-delayed all-party conference on the one-point agenda of peace in Pakistan: that meeting of Pakistan’s political and religious leaders – a forum that is unofficial and not recognized in any formal capacity by the state but apparently has more power than any House of Parliament – was reported to have unanimously opted for peace talks. Since then, talks between representatives of the Taliban and government officials started a few weeks ago, and signals of good news to be shared soon were frequently given using the media, but the talks process broke down earlier this week after a series of attacks on security forces claimed by fringe Taliban groups. These groups are part of the TTP but have greater autonomy than other cadres, and are continuing their attacks on Pakistan despite the fact that their leadership – which sometimes denies and other times defends and claims responsibility for these events – is negotiating on specific terms with the government for ceasefire and peace. The news about the execution of 27 Frontier Corps soldiers, coming a day after a TTP-claimed suicide bombing in Karachi killed 13 police commandoes and wounded dozens of others, increased pressure on the government to back out of peace talks till the TTP agrees to a ceasefire and enforces on all of its subordinate groups to adhere to it.
The Army publicly supports Sharif’s call for talks, but in private, senior officers have spoke strongly against it, giving rise to talk that the military are waiting for an excuse to mount a major operation – in various locations, but with targeted precision and calibrated requirements – against militant strongholds to achieve measurable goals against terrorists. A successful effort of that sort would convince the people as well as the policymakers that the stance of “no negotiations with terrorists” is an option that can be exercised both morally and militarily. And an excuse is already present with continuing attacks: proof the Army does not need to give to the government that while the military is observing a unilateral ceasefire so that the government’s peace talks initiative can plod towards an uncertain peace, the enemies of the public continue to attack Pakistan, make life hell for everyone, and cause casualties that sometimes cost a lot of money and at other times are irreplaceable and invaluable.
The lack of progress on peace talks has also given rise to speculation that the government, backed by the powerful army, is preparing for a ground and air offensive against Taliban strongholds in the tribal belt on the Afghan border. Since parts of the new National Security Policy remain classified, there are chances that the military might undertake “hot pursuit” military actions while chasing retreating terrorists and TTP networks across the Durand Line in Afghanistan – actions that, if made public, will sour relations with Afghanistan, and would need to be co-ordinated with the U.S. if they ever need to be implemented.
“An all-out operation is highly unlikely but a targeted operation is unavoidable,” a senior military official told this correspondent, requesting anonymity. “There is a very strong realisation among all stakeholders that the Taliban will just never give up the use of force and so they will have to be dealt with the use of force. We’ve already wasted a lot of time over this charade of peace talks”. The federal and Sindh governments are already engaged in a targeted operation against criminal elements and terrorist cells in Karachi: this has stabilized the security situation to some extent, even though threats remain and major attacks continue to take place.
Another intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss military operational matters with journalists, said a military operation was in the works. “It will not be carpet bombing,” he said. “But the army is ready for a full onslaught to flush them out”. Given past experiences, the intelligence official also said that plans were in place to clear and hold adjoining areas for civilians fleeing the warzones to encamp in safety and receive medical attention if they required so.


Post a Comment