In the biggest military campaign of the last five years, the Pakistan military is out to crush the Taliban. The operation code named Zarb-e-Azb has killed 170 militants and at least six soldiers have died. Of course, these numbers can’t be confirmed, as there is no independent media access to the area, and these numbers and details can often be embellished by official government or army sources.

The US has stated that the Pakistan operation has nothing to do with them and their troops on the Afghan border are not coordinating with Pakistan, but it seems they are onboard. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top US military commander in Afghanistan said that the US had increased its surveillance over the Afghan-Pakistani border and so far officials have not seen any militants fleeing the latest offensive. Additionally, Nawaz Sharif has made a request to Karzai to close off the porous border between the countries and not allow any militants to escape into Afghanistan. Pakistan owning the war for now is a good strategy, garnering nationalistic support is essential to the government and military in its efforts to curb terrorism, and to establish the war and its own authority as the only legitimate authority in Pakistan. It is time that Pakistanis realize that anyone who kills civilians, for whatever cause, is an enemy of the state. The dichotomy between “good” and “bad” Taliban just clouds the issue. A political demand should go though a political process, for better or worse. There can be no apologizing for the behavior of the TTP in the past few years.

“By God, we will soon shake your palaces in Islamabad and Lahore and burn those to ashes.” If not this statement by the Taliban, then nothing else will shake us awake to the huge mass of danger our cities are in. There will be backlash, more cities will be targeted, and we must be ready for this. The army has shifted troops into major cities to guard against retaliatory attacks. It remains to be seen if the operation can maim the funding and countrywide network of the Taliban. The success of Zarb-Azb ultimately is not going to be the number of militants killed, but the extent to which our towns and cities are safe from militant violence.