For the disgruntled tribesmen of South Waziristan Agency, COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s assessment of the circumstances that led to the military operation may provide little solace. He conveyed to them that the army was against fighting its countrymen, but was doing so under a compulsion. What exactly these compulsions are, he did not see fit to elaborate. The General must understand that once peace is fully restored, troops should be called back while the civilian state apparatus is strengthened to assume its responsibilities.

The army’s job is to watch over the geographical frontiers of the country, not to fight its own people. The spillover of the war from neighbouringAfghanistan badly rocked the tribal agencies. Poverty, lack of education, Kalashnikov culture, and absence of government’s writ all made it easy for these forces to go about their destructive ways. As of now according to the army most of the troublemakers and other criminal elements have been driven out from South Waziristan and an effort is underway to wean the local population away from the influence of militancy. This is manifest through setting up of cadet colleges, schools and general development work. What is a matter of relief is that the locals are being made to realise that the tribal agencies need nation building work on a war-footing for which they should not hesitate to step forward. Once the tribesmen understand that the military is not there to stay permanently, the resentment that takes itself out in the form of backlash against the government may also die down. Along with these measures, something would need to be done to repatriate foreigners, many of them Afghan migrants settled in these agencies but in a way that does not offend them.

It appears the goal of winning over the disgruntled tribal elements is being pursued, but with how much success, remains to be seen. This is quite logical as it is in accordance with the changing contours of the Afghan war. There is no reason why we should not talk to those of our own brethren in the tribal areas who are willing to submit to the law of the land.