North Waziristan has gained a special reputation for itself during the ongoing insurgency in Pakistan. A part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the agency often manages to produce headlines due to its volatile, complex state. It hosts the ‘headquarters’ of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), along with various other local and international terrorists who belong to different organizations. The Pakistani military is also present in the area to keep a close view of the scenario, mostly in the form of checkpoints and bunkers. Lured by “high-value targets”, US drones pay frequent visits, one of which resulted in the premature demise of TTP chief, Hakimullah Mehsud. And to top it all off, no one really knows what exactly goes on around here, due to the absence of government and fairly limited media penetration.

The military and the militants co-exist courtesy of an uneasy truce. Minor skirmishes do occur, but hardly ever prompt large-scale action from either side. That may have been the case when Gen (r) Pervez Kayani was in charge, but the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen Raheel Sharif, appears to have his own ideas on the subject. Following a suicide attack on military checkpost in Khajori, conflicting reports regarding a retaliatory military action continued to flow in the media. On 31st December, our well-informed Interior Minister, Nisar Ali Khan, announced that no military operation was taking place in North Waziristan. However, the meeting of the commanders of the armed forces held on 2nd January has revealed that a military operation is in fact being conducted in the Mir Ali and Miranshah subdivisions. Not just that, the operation is likely to “continue for several weeks”, and is currently at “combatant stage.”

This raises some serious questions. Is the federal government even aware of the current situation in North Waziristan? There is clear change in policy under Gen Raheel Sharif, which is evident from the military’s aggressive retaliatory action. Are the COAS's civilian bosses aware of this new strategy, and do they approve of it? More importantly, were they even consulted on the matter? From Mr Nisar’s unenviable state of unawareness, it appears not quite. Considering it has now been confirmed that an operation is underway, and more than 50 people have been killed so far, it is important that the civilian and military leadership appear on the same page. Or else, this will be another event that will forever be tainted by controversy, which arises from lack of information sharing. The government must know of and own up to its military’s actions, and play its role in the process. This hypocritical approach has already cost us too much, and will certainly add to the confusion of our masses.