After exhaustive and determined efforts to sort out issues with the TTP through dialogue as authorized by the APC held in September 2013, notwithstanding the continued terrorist acts against the security forces and security installations, the government perforce has instructed the Army to launch a full-fledged ground assault against the terrorists based in North Waziristan, supported by airstrikes at the hideouts and communication installations of the terrorists by PAF jets. The operation named ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ as stated by the Prime Minister and the COAS will continue until the last terrorist is eliminated. According to the ISPR and media reports, the operation is proceeding successfully and more than 150 terrorists, mostly Uzbeks including the mastermind of the Karachi attack have been killed. To make sure that the terrorists do not cross over to Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army and Afghan border security force have also been contacted to seal the border.

The terrorists actually asked for it by attacking Karachi airport last week, which proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The decision to abandon talks was taken in the National Security Council meeting convened immediately after the attack. It is pertinent to mention that neither the APC resolution nor the National Internal Security Policy announced by the government precluded the possibility of use of force against the militants. They invariably advocated use of force as an ultimate option. The faith of the PML(N) government in dealing with terrorism and bringing an end to it through a negotiated settlement, was in line with the conclusions drawn at the global level about tackling the scourge of terrorism and militancy, which unequivocally professed that the countries who preferred military force as the first option actually prolonged the resolution of the conflict.

Unfortunately, the option of dialogue has failed to produce the desired results because of the indiscretions of the TTP and probably their miscalculations regarding the resolve of the government to establish the writ of the state. The fact that the government tried its best to avoid further bloodshed and resolve the issue through dialogue, should silence those elements and political parties who have been opposing a decisive military action against the terrorists.

The country is now at war against the enemy and it should be fought like a war not only by the Army but by the entire nation exhibiting impregnable unity and readiness to spare no sacrifice in fighting and eliminating the existentialist threat. The political elements who are contemplating launching protest rallies and pursuing their political agendas are best advised to desist from creating fissures within society. Our soldiers, security agencies and law enforcing organs need the unqualified support of the entire nation. Politicking can wait for better times.

They army has given unparalleled sacrifices in this dirty war against a faceless enemy which deserves no mercy at all for challenging the writ of the state and rebelling against the government. The terrorist have kept this nation hostage to their bestiality for more than a decade, inflicting a loss of more than US$100 billion in financial terms, apart from more than 50,000 military and civilian casualties.

The war is not going to be a one way affair. The terrorists will try to hit back at more civilian and military installations and their operations are likely to gain more intensity as military action progresses against them. The government has already adopted a number of security measures to protect important civilian and military installations. However, since we are at war, I believe it would be prudent to declare a state of emergency. Special Military courts must be set up to try and punish terrorists caught in action or involved in terrorist acts anywhere in the country. The possibility of imposing night curfews in major cities where important military and civilian installation are located, must also be considered. Door-to-door searches in major cities for weapons and terrorist operators, should be a consideration.

The masses can help by exercising vigilance, maintaining neighbourhood watch and reporting suspicious activity. Credentials of seminaries that have sprung up in every nook and corner of the country and their sources of funding must be checked, because a number of them are involved in providing financial support to the terrorist outfits that they raise through charitable donations by unsuspecting philanthropists. It is estimated that Rs.220 billion are collected by these organisations in Pakistan annually. People need to be made aware of this.

Perhaps it would be pertinent to mention that about 281 such organisations have been detected and designated all over the world including 18 NGOs working for humanitarian and religious causes, who were supporting terrorist groups. The government must have fool-proof data about such organisations operating within Pakistan. It would be a good idea to unmask their faces so that people stop funding their own deaths and destruction.

 The writer is a freelance columnist.

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