With the reported militant death toll and the number of IDPs on the rise, the fate of FATA remains questionable. One of the key issues is that the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) is the prime news source for the public. If reports in the news and media are to be believed, the Pakistan army is killing hundreds of militants every week. There is no word on civilian casualties, injuries or what is really happening on the ground; nothing that is verifiable by independent sources, and we have only the army to trust. Word about what is happening in North Waziristan is often better understood by word of mouth of the IDPs. Recently, a few reports have begun to emerge from Bannu about civilians fleeing amidst surprise aerial bombing, having to run from their homes sans all their worldly goods, and some, even being forced to leave their children behind. The fact of the matter is, there is no way to know what the scale of collateral damage really is. Are houses and livelihoods being blown into rubble, or are families being eliminated as well as part of our great military purge? That innocent lives will be lost, is the great, inevitable tragedy of every war. But we must know what the numbers are, in order to evaluate the real problematics of this operation, and to shift public discourse and government/ military attention.

It is of course understandable that the military gets to keep a monopoly on intelligence, but without the media acting as a watchdog, Pakistanis are in the dark about one of the greatest military operations of our time. Some semblance of credible independent sources must now be permitted, so transparency and accountability is brought into the public sphere.