The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has come back with a vengeance and claimed responsibility for three separate attacks across the country on Saturday, killing a Frontier Corps official in Quetta and a retired major of the Pakistan Army in Karachi, and wounding a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) in Peshawar. The mode of violence was a bomb blast on the FC checkpost in Quetta, while the other two victims in Peshawar and Karachi succumbed to target shootings. As December 16 looms ahead, a sense of foreboding gloom prevails over the country as the TTP is displaying a backlash. The incident propelled the launching of the Zarb-e-Azb operation in which 3,400 terrorists have been killed and 837 hideouts from where they operated from have been destroyed.

There is no doubt about the success of the operation. And this success has come at a heavy price as 488 valiant officers and men of the Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps (FC) and Sindh Rangers have sacrificed their lives and 1,914 were injured in the Operation. The Pakistan Army launched operation Zarb-i-Azb on June 15 after the failure of peace talks between the government and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) negotiators. Although it initially started out as an attack against the militants it has extended to improving the situation where other elements worked against the state apart from the proscribed organisations, and this is commendable.

Research on domestic terrorism shows that when military operations are carried out a counteroffensive is sure to be expected. The more violent the crackdown the bigger the backlash. This is the catch-22 situation of counter-terrorism that no victim country has been able to circumvent. The violence can only be repressed till the operation is ongoing; the moment it stops the threat will come back. The government and the intelligence has to play an integral role to root out terrorism instead of just relying heavily on the physical military offensive.

Otherwise, negotiations and appeasement are the options, resulting in the further mainstreaming of radical thought and alienation of liberal and centrist ideals.

Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa has implied that the dynamics between the sleeper-cells in urban areas has been largely disrupted through intelligence based operations (IBO) conducted by security forces, and it must be stressed that this aspect is integral to the success of the operation. The institution of police has to be strengthened and empowered as well.