One of the more bewildering aspects of the Pakistani state’s apparent reluctance to take the fight to the militants has been the fact that its military has often been a primary target in this war. From the attack on the GHQ to the raid on PNS Mehran, the military has suffered some great losses in this war against militancy. This was only underscored by an attack on an army camp near Wazirabad (close to Sialkot) that killed seven soldiers. According to a report in this newspaper, the attack happened hours after participants of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council’s so-called long march to Islamabad had passed by the area. The soldiers had stationed themselves near the Chenab river to find the remains of the pilot of a helicopter that had crashed in the area in May.
This attack also highlights that the defensive tactics being employed against militancy are not working. The military is content to set up multiple checkposts to try and stymie the militant’s free movements but seems to have retreated in the fight to take back territory. Even in areas like Dir, where the military was successful in clearing out militants, militants groups have regrouped, and in the case of Maulvi Fazlullah, they have used the international border to lethal effect, hiding in Afghanistan and carrying out raids inside Pakistan.
The idea of a military operation in North Waziristan, where the Haqqani network operates, is something that is not even being contemplated. The greatest worry is that the state has adopted these tactics, not because of a lack of resources, but because it is playing what appears to be a larger ideological game. The state has previously aimed at controlling Afghanistan through a proxy and it seems that it thinks that turning a blind eye to the Afghan Taliban’s activities is the best way of doing this. The cost in terms of innocent lives seems to be a mere sideshow in this larger strategic battle. Such a strategy will only lead to more such attacks. And that is something nobody in the country should countenance.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2012.
More in EditorialParliamentary oversight