Reportedly, Adnan Rasheed, a key militant commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has been arrested by the security forces from a house in Shakoi, South Waziristan. He was sentenced to death in 2005 for attempting to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf, but was freed by the TTP along with several hundred prisoners during the Bannu jailbreak in 2009. Later, it was revealed that the primary objective of the jail break was to secure Adnan’s release.

Indeed, we have caught a big fish, but we have caught too few so far. That this is the first high-profile arrest that has been made during the ongoing military operation is rather disappointing. Have the rest of them slipped through the apparently large holes in the net and swam away to safer waters? If it is Uzbek militants who are killed as a result of aerial bombing and it is Uzbek militants again who are killed during the ground offensive, then perhaps we should have tried negotiating with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) instead of the TTP. Such reports would only make sense if foreign fighters outnumbered local terrorists ten to one. But, that wasn’t the situation in North Waziristan. The massive infrastructure, an entire market dedicated to sell terrorism-related products varying from assault rifles to IEDs and the fact that it was all happening in the heart of Miranshah clearly suggests enormous local support. So, where are the Pakistani Taliban? We were told that there are thousands of them. So far, the military claims to have killed around 500 terrorists. Where are the rest of them? Does the DG ISPR really mean “most” when he says “many” militants have fled in anticipation of the military offensive?

In any case, it is a positive development that they have been forced to abandon their main base without which their capability is seriously diminished. However, there is no room for complacency. They cannot be allowed to return or strike elsewhere in the country. This would require consistent intelligence work from both military and civilian forces.