The expanding war in the northwest

The solution to terrorism lies in transforming how states treat their citizens, not on expanding security capacities.

Khalid Aziz December 28, 2010
The expanding war in the northwest

On December 24, 11 soldiers of the Frontier Corps and 24 militants were killed in clashes that took place after local Afghan insurgents, supported by ‘foreigners’, attacked five security forces posts in the Safi and Baizai tehsils of Mohmand Agency. There are reports that a large number of militants were involved in the assault. This comes in the wake of drone attacks on Afridi Tirah — which lies to the west of Peshawar — on December 16 and 17, in which more than 22 militants, along with 20 others, were killed.

Do these attacks come as a surprise? I would think not. As a matter of fact, the situation in Jalalabad and Kunar in Afghanistan has aggravated since September 2010. In November, there were two attacks on the Jalalabad airfield — the largest Nato airbase in this region — which is used for providing air support to the war along Pakistan’s border. Besides this, there is also close coordination between the US and Pakistani militaries, the intelligence and police forces through the institution of joint ‘fusion centres and cells,’ which exist at different places within Pakistan and Afghanistan. Latest intelligence and real time battle information is provided by the US to the Pakistani military and other agencies. Thus, the war against the militants is now being conducted on the basis of intelligence fed by drones to the Pakistani military through US platforms.

Evidently, this strategy of joint action has pinned the militants and they are now trying to relieve the pressure by attacking other spots along the Durand Line. The attack on Mohmand and the suicide bomb attack in Bajaur Agency a couple of days ago, should be seen in this light. But other major changes are also occurring in the region. As Pakistani and US drone attacks have pulverised the Tehreek-i-Taliban and its foreign supporters, particularly the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the latter have begun to head towards Central Asian States. In August and September of this year, the IMU attacked the central prison in Dushanbe and helped many of its supporters escape. The Tajikistan security forces began sweeps that were ambushed and many Tajik military personnel were killed by the IMU.

Ever since the Pakistan military was inducted into Waziristan, Swat, Orakzai and Khyber Agency, militants have been cornered and are now shifting to less perilous locations, some into Afghanistan. Although pressure on many parts of Fata and Pakhtunkhwa has lessened, it has increased in other parts. If this trend continues, it is foreseen that many foreign militants will soon be operating in Central Asia and the Russian Caucuses region of Chechnya and Dagestan yet again. Militants in Pakistan will be headed for the urban centres of the country and, after lying low, they will again reorganise terrorist activities in cities. In other words, the war will be transferred from the military to the police and security agencies.

So what is the answer? Unfortunately, states are still anchored in a world view relevant to the 1980s. But the world has changed drastically since then. Joseph Nye, the doyen of the US foreign policy establishment, thinks that due to low entry costs ushered in by developments in information technology and the privatisation of war, the state no longer has the upper hand in the use of coercive force in that resistance is possible and provides a new identity to fighters. If that is so, then the solution to terrorism and violence lies in transforming how states treat their citizens and this should be based on social justice and human rights and not on expanding security capacities.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2010.


Saira Humayun | 13 years ago | Reply Despite the fact that US along with NATO forces are operating in Afghanistan for the last decade, the non state military and violent actors still play their role in the region. This is the million dolor question that why military organizations are easily remobilized and also extend their footing to other regions like Central Asia and Russian ex-republics?
Fozia | 13 years ago | Reply After reading this article the point comes into my mind that in order to curb the menace of terrorism 'The issues of human rights, social justice and unemployment should be solved' as these are the main causes of the increasing militancy. Military attacks is not the solution to end terrorism as after US Drones attacks and Military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan tribal areas inducing the revenge activities of the militants in other areas of Pakistan. recently the attacks on Mohamand Agency and suicide attack in Bajaur are the proof of such revenge of militants after drone attacks. to avoid drone attacks the militants are now spreading in other areas of Central Asia and Russia to expand thier terrorism which is an alarming sign for the peaceful lives of innocent civilians. It is concluded that US drones attacks and military operations are not lessening the activities of terrorists but it is the main cause of the criminal activities expansion. deprivation of basic needs of civilians induce them to join the militants to get money from the Extrimists' Groups to fulfill the needs of thier families. Therefore the important point is to provide the basic needs to the common people to get thier cooperation to cope with the situation.
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