With the operation in North Waziristan on-going, and a state crackdown on militant activity following the Dec. 16 attack in Peshawar, it would appear as though a reasonably comprehensive, nationwide operation that targets religious terrorism is now underway. With impressive speed, Operation Zarb-e-Azb keeps mounting up figures of dead “suspected” terrorists, many of them high level TTP operatives. We are marching terrorists routinely to the gallows to be put to death. Roughly ten days after the Peshawar school attack, TTP commander Saddam Jan to whom the school massacre was vaguely attributed to, was killed in Khyber agency. In recent news, a police encounter in Lahore has resulted in the death of the Taliban “mastermind” behind the Wagah border attack in Lahore which led to the deaths of 61 people in November last year. There are raids every week resulting in trophy deaths; all this amidst the continuation of both terror attacks and sectarian killings, most recently the Taliban attack on an Imambargah in Rawalpindi that left seven people dead last Friday.

First of all, the state narrative does as much harm to its reputation as it does good. There is enough reason to be suspicious of the apparent success of its comprehensive operation. Frighteningly little is known about the intelligence, the institutions, the technology, the leadership… the green signals that lead to raids that result in the elimination of TTP fighters. We only get names and labels as vague as “high level commander,” “mastermind,” “Taliban top brass.” Do we or don’t we not possess the information, institutions and tools to go after high value targets? Do we possess the coordination and sophistication to investigate such cases? And if we do, then why didn’t we see these welcome developments, police encounters and raids occur earlier? How are we able to pick them up now? By what stroke of magic does intelligence that never existed before suddenly come to light now, right after 132 school children have been killed? If it existed before, why wasn’t it used? And if it didn’t exist before, how can we trust the legitimacy of such quickly acquired information that has set our intelligence pot into overdrive and is leading to the execution and elimination of one after another “mastermind”?

The sad truth is that little can be believed of the government’s sincerity. There is still no clarity in its murky narrative, and so the nation must reserve the right to be wary of any statistics it throws our way. When it continues to give vague answers to questions about Madrassa and terror-group funding, when our Interior Minister declares in the Senate that “Muslims countries” are financing terror networks but they can’t nab the transactions, there seems to be an enormous intelligence problem. Either that, or a selective pursuit problem.