Pakistan has said it is moving in the right direction in the fight against terrorism along the Afghan border and instead of passing harsh judgements on Islamabads performance, the anti-terror allies must help address its security concerns. Although Pakistan has come under fire for not clearing its northern tribal belt of militants, these criticisms do not account for our deep-seated domestic limitations, regional concerns and other military-related inadequacies, Imran Gardezi, Press Minister at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, wrote in The USA Today.
Gardezi said Islamabad has owned the fight against terrorists on its soil and his references to domestic limitations reflected the arguement that Pakistan must not be seen as being pressured externally for pursuing some unilateral objective but that in order to achieve our shared objectives, Pakistan should be extended international trust and support.
Together, we have made significant progress. So lets work out an effective joint strategy and make sure we dont squander our achievements.
The perception that Pakistan is ignoring the tribal areas in North Waziristan is unfounded; 38,000 of 149,000 military personnel in the tribal areas have been deployed there. The army has also conducted operations and surgical strikes on designated targets, he wrote in the largest circulation American newspaper.
The embassy spokesman also sought understanding of the toughness of the task to eliminate terrorists and then consolidate the gains.
President Obama, in his policy remarks on the war, has aptly remarked that it is a very difficult endeavor, and that gains are fragile and reversible. Pakistan is also very well aware of the complexity of the situation, he reminded.
This is our war, too, and our civil and military leaders have vowed that no terrorist organization will be tolerated or allowed to operate from our soil.Our human and material sacrifices are unmatched by all others involved. So far, Pakistan has suffered more than 40,000 civilian and military casualties in this war.
Answering critics of delay in a full-fledged operation in North Waziristan, Gardezi drew attention to some ground realities including the Pakistan army being overstretched following a series of still ongoing operations.
Besides, on the humanitarian side, he said any comprehensive operation in the area would entail the displacement of a very large number of people, which is beyond the governments capacity to handle.
At the tactical level, he said any big offensive would require shifting of forces from Swat and other areas prematurely, thereby risking gains of the past two years.
The official also listed this summers devastating floods as a factor that has further compounded army resources as an additional 60,000 troops had to be deployed reinforce relief and rescue operation in flood hit area of the country.
Gardezi said protracted war against militants during the past nine years has seriously depleted the militarys capabilities.
Reimbursements and military assistance from the Coalition Support Fund have remained inadequate, slow and cumbersome.
As a result, Pakistan badly lacks the means and tools to fight insurgency, including the essential military equipment for operations in such difficult terrain, he wrote.
In addition, he noted, weather conditions in North Waziristan are very harsh from November through March and make it impossible for any military operations.