“We have made it very clear that if such an attack were to happen again, and if we could traced it back to Pakistan, there would be very severe consequences.” This recent statement by Hillary Clinton is not likely to help because threatening a country which is an ally of the war on terror may not be a very wise diplomatic move.
Faisal Shahzad may have been inspired by extremists, but the people at the helm of affairs in the US know that the Pakistani state has no role in the affair. Drones are already violating Pakistani air space, so the severe consequences hinted at might be the use of missile strikes against suspected targets inside Fata and the crossing of the border by Nato ground forces. Instead of considering this option, the US needs to evaluate the performance of its armed forces. After eight years of fighting, they have now realised that forces available in Afghanistan are not adequate to win a war against the Taliban.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s armed forces have achieved much more — they have also suffered more. Total coalition deaths in Afghanistan are over 1,700 while Pakistani casualties, both dead and wounded are more than 30,000 — over 21,600 civilians and more than 8,700 military personnel. They have lost their stronghold of South Waziristan and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as an organisation, has been crippled. For now it is unlikely it will be able to plan and execute global terrorist activities.
Mamoond Tehsil of Bajaur Agency is now in control of the local administration. Terrorists are still operating in North Waziristan, Orakzai, central Kurram, Mohmand and the Tirah area of Khyber Agency. Swat is returning to normalcy and as Orakzai is the only agency not bordering Afghanistan, local Taliban raised a force there, way back in 1998. Most of the terrorists, including Central Asians, who fled from South Waziristan, have taken refuge in this agency and in Tirah. They want an area under their control, where they can reorganise, regroup, train, establish and streamline system of provision of supplies and logistics. Orakzai provides just that and it is also a place where these people can move easily to from Tirah, Darra Adam khel; Kurram and North Waziristan. They are launching organised attacks on armed forces posts to regain ground control of some areas. However, operations in Orakzai and Kurram were in progress with hundreds of terrorists killed, by air and ground action, and the military recently claiming victory.
Military operations are the first phase in the fight against terrorism. The more important one is the strategic development of the areas, which are breeding grounds for militant extremists. In case such plan is not implemented, in a quick and transparent manner, the terrorists are likely to regain their lost ground and they may be more dangerous this time. The US and other western countries should help Pakistan in this task of reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 7th, 2010.
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