The Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif continued to build the narrative against extremism by saying that the operation against terrorists “should have started yesterday” but now that it had started it would continue to its “logical conclusion”. The reiteration - necessary for the confined fore of the narrative - is welcome, as is the admission that the establishment tarried too long in starting the operation. The military has always presented its action in the most infallible light, it is high time that it takes an introspective approach to the problems that beset the country.
The speech touched several other subjects as well, such as the assessment of operation Zarb-e-Azb as a “success story” by the US officials during the chief’s recent visit, and the security threat being presented by the Indian intelligence agency, RAW. These issues however were not treated with the realist introspection that the previous statement was dealt with. The military operation is often labelled a success in sweeping statements without any objective analysis of what tangible objectives have been achieved. This become problematic because the operation is not as effective as it is made out to be. The establishment may regret it’s lethargic response to the rise of extremism but it certainly responds with lethargy to several iteration of extremist thought. The learned cleric in Lal Masjid continues to peddle hate and extremism without check, the action against terrorist groups that operate primarily against foreign targets is still non-existent, and parties like the ASWJ still operate in the political mainstream. It is here that the shinning narrative of the operation breaks down, and a little honest introspection is required
This is not to say that the operation has not done good, it has been more expansive and extensive than any before. But it still does not qualify as a success story. The extremism problem is deep seated and difficult to isolate, and unless the establishment can admit that it’s past policies of using religion as policy tool is flawed it cannot make true progress. General Raheel Sharif has done an admirable job of maintaining a narrative, but it is built on sweeping declarations rather than objective analysis.