Sadia N. Qazi & Farooq uz Zaman

Pakistan has fought world’s toughest and longest war of mankind’s military history.Pakistani Nation has emerged as one of the most resilient nations on Earth.

Pakistan Armed Forces have defeated the forces inimical – on both conventional and nonconventional fronts, fighting nontraditional asymmetrical battles – either in isolation or under the shadows – either in plains or in the rugged terrains – either under waters or above the heights.

Pakistan Military is fully prepared to face the challenge of Fourth and Fifth Generational War. It has successfully built its capacity and machination to thwart out Hybrid-war or Cyber-attacks or whatever.Pakistan really has amazed the world. The world stands witness to our triumphs. The international community recognizes our contributions so big and sacrifices so many.

Time and again wehave literally resurrected from ruins.Post 9/11 put us in grave test of time.Pakistan was equally pained at the World Trade Center terror, over 3,000 deaths of American people, women and children.9/11 was a turning point in the history of the world. Armed terrorist groups had challenged all nations without limitation of geographical boundaries.Pakistan became the epicenter of this war due to the presence of terrorist roots in Afghanistan and tribal areas of Pakistan.Like a responsible world community member, Pakistan felt its moral obligation to stand against terrorismand join hands with the world in the Global War on Terrorism.

The Allied Forces’ action against OBL and Taliban resulted in yet another exodus of Afghan people into Pakistan who had already been hosting over 4 million refugees ever since the start of Afghan War in early 80s.With them many Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda militants managed to sneak into Pakistan’s tribal areas, where theylater gathered to wage war against Pakistani state. The enemy countries, especially India in our neighbour, took it as an opportune time to fuel and finance the terrorist organizations into forming a similar version of Pakistani Taliban, called TTP.

The fire of terrorism was transferred to Pakistan. The Global War on Terror was turned into Pakistan’s War on Terror.Through suicide bombings and Improvised Explosive Devices, the terrorists started targeting innocent Pakistani citizens and military personnel, vehicles and buildings, hospitals and schools, markets and airports, garrisons and installations.

Eventually the terrorists took over the entire Swat Valley and established its so-called ‘Shariah Courts.’ The ‘Blood Squire’ called Khooni Chowk right in the middle of Swat city witnessed blood-letting of tens of innocent citizens every day. Brutal flogging of an innocent Swati girl, followed by a later attack on Malala Yusufzai, jolted the entire Pakistani nation. The government at Centregave a go-ahead to Pakistan Army to launch military Operation under Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s overall command.

Over 2 million people were evacuated from Swat and shifted to nearby towns in the makeshift IDP camps, and a sweeping operation was conducted. Most of the terrorists met their fate. Mullah Fazlullah and his dreaded accomplices fled to Nangarhar in Afghanistan. Peace returned to Swat within months. The IDPs returned to Swat much before stipulated time.

Another Operation – the most difficult and daring one – was launched in the mountainous South Waziristan where the TTP leadership had its strongholds.

Pakistan Army exhibited extreme valour and bravery in carrying out these operations. Rah-e-Rast and Rah-e-Nijaat were focused military operations conducted in the areas saturated with terrorist hideouts. The operations in Swat, Bajaur and South Waziristan were difficult due to demography and terrain. But with robust determination Pakistan Army penetrated deep into the areas which were being used as terrorist safe havens.

Pakistan Army busted and destroyed terror dens, safe havens, arm dumps, suicide training centers and highly sophisticated cyber-war and sabotage-gadgets which led to the realization as to who was actually playing the terrorists from behind.

India in collaboration with anti-Pakistan elements had been conspiring to turn Pakistan into centre of terrorism turmoil. As the external threats hovered over borders, we have had internal miscreants disrupting peace and stability of the nation. Fourth Generational War was imposed upon us. Pakistan had to face two major challenges before it. One was the dangerous and dodgy Narrative of the Terrorists. And the other was facing the terrorists from shadows and from behind the human shields. It was the ghost invisible amongst the visible.

Besides TTP, a large number of al-Qaeda affiliates from Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and other Arab and African countries held hostage the local population in North Waziristan, Bajaur and other tribal agencies. They established their command and control system from where they launched terrorist activities all over the country.

A new wave of terrorism gripped the entire country. Suicide bombings, IED blasts and terror storming targeted the security forces, government and private buildings, innocent citizens, women and children, which not only caused a heavy toll on human lives, but also posed serious dent to economy and trade, business activity and routine life. This also nose-dived Pakistan’s international image and standing.

Desperate times call for difficult decisions. Winning a war becomes inevitable when security of the homeland is threatened. Pakistan stepped up with a steady resolve to stand guard against the terrorists entrenched in the country. It was also hard for the Pakistani nation to step into a war where Pakistan was checkmated due to the regional and religious sentiments for the Afghan brethren. But the saying goes, “yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

The terror attacks in Islamabad courts, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi, Attock, Quetta, and other cities sent a shockwave throughout the country. It put a serious question mark on the Security Establishment of the country. Army had to get a nod from the political leadership. But the newly established government wanted to opt for peace talks with TTP. This only proved to be a time gaining tactic for terrorists.  The terrorists stormed the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on 9 June 2014. This was enough for Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif who wasted no more time and launched the already planned Operation Zarb-e-Azb on 15 June 2014. The Operation was all-encompassing. “This would end only after the elimination of last terrorist”, declared Gen. Raheel.

The political government however still wanted to use talks as an option. It didn’t lend its full hand to Zarb-e-Azb. But 16 December 2014 changed all. The terrorists conducted the most barbarous attack on Army Public School Peshawar: 140 school children and teachers were brutally killed by terrorists who crossed over from Afghanistan. This atrocious act engulfed the country in pain unimaginable and unbearable.

“Enough is Enough” – was the one Voice of the Nation. Political Government and Security Forces joined heads together. All Parties Conference was called. National Security Council met. They came up with consensus National Resolve to hit back and no talks this time. A comprehensive National Action Plan was finalized with an 18-point agenda which led to gearing up of all tiers of national security apparatus against the terrorists, who attacked Mehran Base, Kamra Airbase, Budhber Camp, Wagha border, Lal Shahbaz shrine, Lahore city, Hazara community Quetta and many more.

But now was the time for falling of Azb – the Sword of the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.W. Zarb-e-Azb was a high-magnitude offensive operation – an absolute measure to eradicate the terrorist threats once and for all. The operation was carried out at three fronts that included gaining the political support, isolating the militant groups by conducting targeted strikes and protecting the civilians from the backlash of the operation. Political support was attained for the operation and all the political leadership stood by the Pakistan Armed Forces and backed the decision to undertake the operation.

The operation started off with air strikes targeting militant hideouts in North Waziristan, their training facilities and other infrastructure supporting the insurgents. From the very first day of the operations the militant sanctuaries were targeted and destroyed. The first year of the operation marked the aggressive blow to the terrorist networks.The combative strikes by the Pakistan Armed Forces rendered the militants to scatter and isolate. This nudged the peace to take over the country. After a long time, the frequency of the bomb blasts lessened and a wave of life washed over the country. As per security report published in 2016, the terrorist related incidents decreased in Pakistan up to 40 percent since the inception of Zarb-e-Azb and a major dip was witnessed in terror related incidents in Pakistan.

To support the operation and to execute punishments to the captive terrorists, military courts were set up and the moratorium on executions of terrorists by presidential order was removed.

Zarb-e-Azab broke the backbone of the terrorist networks. But it also resulted in isolating the scattered hideouts. These insulated bunches entice and seam the terrorists providing safe havens for their restoration and resumption of their activities. The success of a military operation lies in an incessant exertion to sojourn the unification and integration of the terrorist network.

The success of the operation necessitated it to be ranged to every nook and corner of the country to ensure the enduring outcomes of all the Military operations carried out previously and the on-going operations including Zarb e Azb and propel it to probable conclusion of eradication and purge of terrorism in all forms. In permanence of this notion, Pakistan Army launched 'Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad' on February 22, 2017. Operational Radd-ul-Fasaad, as the name suggests aims to eradicate the insurgents spreading ‘Fasaad’ and unrest to de-stabilize the country. The eclectic spectrum of this operation aimed to target the sleeper cells and the various access nodes of the residual terrorist network with the synchronizing contribution of Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, Civil Armed Forces (CAF) and other security and Law Enforcing Agencies (LEAs).

The highest achievement attained by the success of Radd-ul-Fasaad was the prevail of peace in the country opening doors for tourists and the whole world witnessed the successful commencement of Pakistan Super League cricket matches and international cricketers playing in Pakistan.

After the milestones achieved and Pakistan became the first country to actually exhibit victorious stand in the war on terror, time called for other reforms to be put in place for the perpetuity of this victory. The merger of FATA with KPK started its initiation that aims to deliver political, administrative, judicial and security reforms along with chalked down plans for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the area. This FATA reform will mainstream the region and with education and development it will embrace the peace to prevail.

Fencing of Pak-afghan border was also initiated to solidify the borders and encumber any across the border movement of terrorists. Forts and checkpoints are created to ensure a better border security management.

Pakistan was created with a vision to not only provide a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent but also to emerge as a Welfare State. Quaid’s vision for Pakistan is a peaceful Pakistan for all where every citizen has a right to practice their religion with complete freedom and Freedom is for all, regardless of religion, caste or creed. Pakistan differing up against extremism and terrorism is a firm step towards Quaid’s vision and it is imperative for Pakistan to hold on to this vision and strive for the welfare state it was always meant to be.

For the peace of the country Pakistan Armed Forces have sacrificed many precious lives and the brave soldiers have given their toil, sweat and blood to make the defense of Pakistan, invincible. Pakistani citizens have stood firm at the rear of the Pakistan Armed Forces and provided their support, love and respect. A recent exhibit of this love was witnessed in general elections 2018 when citizens from all walks of life presented the soldiers on duty, with flower bouquets and garlands.

After a long war of almost two decades; Pakistan has evolved, Pakistani Nation has further United and Pakistan Armed Forces have undergone further evolution.Pakistan as a nation has exhibited relentless resolve and unmatched resilience. More than 60,000 precious lives were lost in this war on terror. After every terrorist attack, Pakistanis have gathered themselves and with fresh wounds, returned to living their lives to the fullest. Despite the terrorist attacks and threats, Pakistanis showed clearly that no matter what, they will challenge every threat and deny living in fear as it is a nation of the brave.

Pakistani nation wears with pride, all these sacrifices made in the name of peace. All these wounds by the terrorist attacks may never heal and leave scars but these scars mean that Pakistan as a Nation survived, Pakistan as a Nation is stronger than what is trying to hurt us. Integrated Pakistan never gave up the fight and stood guard with sheer bravery, un-wavered resolve and un-matched resilience. The challenge is not over. The threat looms still but with the unity, faith and discipline we can overcome any challenge and defeat any adversary. In words of Quaid, “there is no power on Earth that can undo Pakistan”.

(The writers can be reached at

sadianq29@gmail.com)