The words from General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in his Independence Day message are encouraging. He has indicated Pakistan is determined to go after militants with all the force it can muster and to end insurgency in the country. Till now there has, of course, been much debate over how fully the Pakistan military is committed to dealing with the Taliban and other forces based primarily in the tribal areas. The nexus with them for strategic purposes has existed for a long time. It would be a huge positive change if this relationship was ended.
General Kayani’s strong words indicate this will indeed happen. Following improved relations with Washington, there have been consistent rumours that a huge operation is to be conducted in North Waziristan and other areas.
The US has, of course, long demanded that militant strongholds in these areas be squashed. Till now, Pakistan has been somewhat reluctant, but as Kayani has correctly pointed out, no country can afford to allow a parallel force to exist within its borders even if it is hard for the army to take on its own people.
What we need to do now is to also change mindsets. The ambiguity about the militants, tied in to anti-US feeling needs to be ended. There is no reason why a choice needs to be made between extremists and the West. Both can be criticised for their faults, and a course which favours all the people of Pakistan chalked out.
This is something we need to work on ahead of any military operation. Such a drive can succeed only if people are behind it and confident that this time the Pakistan army means business. There have been too many doubts about this in the past.
If militancy can truly be wiped out, this would genuinely brighten the future of our country. The generations to come deserve this. We have suffered greatly as a result of the Taliban threat. It is time to eliminate it and we must hope that we can succeed in achieving this as swiftly as possible even though it will mean more fighting in certain areas of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2012.
Correction: An earlier version of the editorial missed out the word ‘brighten’ in the last paragraph.