The operation in Punjab has now become “Zarb-e-Ahan”, no longer a suggestion on paper rather a full-fledged war against terrorism in the largest province of Pakistan. We must take a moment to understand the gravity of the situation. There is no doubt that this operation is a long awaited one as the region has seen some of the worst forms of violence against its people; sectarian groups, women and children alike have been the object of oppression and fear. The government has made excuses for these dangerous elements for far too long. While what happens behind closed doors might never be revealed to the public, patience has run out to accommodate extremism in the country be it the government, military or the ordinary Pakistani.
Authorities have ordered mass evacuation in the riverine area of Rajanpur district and security personal dug in there as part of the preparation for the military offensive. If we have learnt anything from operation Zarb-e-Azb that it is a long journey ahead for the IDPs that are displaced from their homes due to war. The police and paramilitary troops have been stationed in multiple locations to intercept the movement of suspected elements within the country. Infiltration remains an issue, one that must be dealt with swiftly with the help of all security personnel. This is war; one that we should not celebrate or rejoice, for the collateral damage is an inevitable consequence of conflict.
In just over a week of the launch of the operation, around 100 ‘facilitators’ of terrorists have been arrested from the southern Punjab. This begs to ask the question, if the intelligence agencies can take such prompt action why wasn’t it allowed before? Leniency has allowed these militants to infiltrate all over Pakistan, setting up terror cells and organising their networks to sophistication. Why did the government wait till the breaking point to decide the course of action against violent extremist groups? If the raids were conducted solely by military based on intelligence provided by military intel agencies, why was the intelligence not shared with their civilian counterparts? If this operation is to be successful it is essential that the government-militia nexus remains as strong as ever. The military alone cannot accomplish the impossible and the government must step up its efforts so that this war that we have started reaches a logical end.