While some parts of the country are being endangered by militancy the rest of the country is far from peaceful. It is extremely hard on the Army to be fighting endless pitched battles deep within the country resulting in the displacement of over two million people. The state’s writ has to be re-established over large tracts of the country and Pakistan cannot afford to have a situation where more than two million patriotic Pakhtoons get displaced.
The challenges confronting Pakistan are certainly not ordinary and they cannot be shrugged off through mere political statements. The threats to Pakistan’s integrity today are very real and very serious. The current situation could acquire a disaster of a catastrophic magnitude.
It can easily be said that the current military operations are not going to achieve much if the political component of these military operations is absent. To roll up one’s sleeves and launch the Army into operations against an irregular guerrilla force deep within the country’s interior is the easiest decision to take. The difficult decisions are those that can actually solve the problem and restore the writ of the state without the extensive and endless use of force. Outright force must always be the sparingly used punch of a well coordinated intelligence operation whenever an insurgency or a terror ridden situation is faced.
Taking a leaf out of Pakistan’s own recent history we shall see that in Pakistan an urban insurgency was defeated in Karachi in 1995-96 after that great city had been held hostage by urban insurgents for a good ten bloody years. The general population was not even aware that a counterinsurgency operation was actually underway. Prior to that intelligence operation the overt military might of an Army corps had failed to restore peace in Karachi through a declared military operation in 1992-94. It was on the withdrawal of the military from the streets of Karachi and some other cities of Sindh that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) succeeded in restoring peace to the then very terrorised Karachi. The ill-equipped Karachi Police very effectively served as the field force to react to good and real time intelligence provided by the intelligence network of the IB. All that time the citizens of Karachi led their normal lives and it was only with the passage of a few weeks that they began to realise that their city was quietly returning to normalcy. There is no example of a parallel successful operation from anywhere in the world.
In the light of the above example from our own recent history the present high intensity military operations now need to be replaced by effective and real time intelligence operations backed by small groups of specially trained, highly mobile and effective helicopter borne troops. The Army’s commandos (SSG) are some of the best trained troops in the world for such operations. We have sufficient intelligence resources and we have enough helicopters to do the job in hand. Whether the world wants to help out or not, in terms of equipment alone, is something that we should leave to the world to decide.
It is Pakistan’s own absolute responsibility to ensure the safety of the life and property of each and every Pakistani, irrespective of the fact whether he lives in the last house on the Pakistani side of the borders with any country or in the heart of Islamabad. It is also Pakistan’s own responsibility to ensure that its territory is not misused by any overt or covert force against anyone anywhere in the world. Should Pakistan be able to achieve this target on its own it will rise to be one of the most respected nations on earth. To the contrary, if we continue to beg in order to be able to protect ourselves from within, Pakistan’s snowballing chaos shall continue to aggravate till it overtakes everything and we are doomed as a nation. The snowballing chaos must now be arrested and for that the government will have to make some sweeping changes in the personnel at the higher levels; it must look for people that talk less and do more on the quiet.