ISLAMABAD: A two-day meeting of top military commanders began here on Tuesday amid conflicting reports about a fresh offensive in North Waziristan Agency following last week’s attack on young peace activist Malala Yousafzai.
The army’s media wing said the formation commanders’ conference, headed by army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, will discuss professional matters. “It is a routine conference,” said one official in a bid to dispel the impression that the gathering was meant to discuss the likely operation in North Waziristan.
The attack on Malala, who was shot in the head in Swat last week, galvanised public opinion against the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and triggered speculations of a possible military offensive in NWA.
“It is premature to say anything at this stage,” added the official referring to the speculations.
He insisted that the formation commanders meeting had nothing to do with the ongoing national debate on the issue. “Such decisions have to be taken at the political level,” the official added.
However, Brigadier (retd) Mehmood Shah said the formation commanders must have discussed the current security situation, including the North Waziristan operation.
“It may not be a decision making body, but it is an open forum where all such issues are discussed,” added Shah, who is former security secretary of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
He maintained that Pakistan will have to clear troubled areas, including North Waziristan, of militants before 2014. The attack on Malala offered a rare moment where the civil and military leadership could create a necessary consensus for such an operation, he argued.
“I don’t find any reason for reluctance on part of both the civilian government and military to launch an operation in North Waziristan,” Shah maintained.
Earlier this week, Interior Minister Rehman Malik disclosed that the government would seriously consider launching an attack in the region in wake of the attack on Malala.
However, he later retracted his remarks, apparently due to pressure from the military.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2012.