The Pakistan National Forum’s ‘National Security Special Committee (NSSC)’ held an urgent meeting on October 18, 2012, at Lahore. Its agenda was to review the emerging geopolitical and geostrategic trends to determine where Pakistan, especially after the Malala incident, is likely to stand by the end of 2013 or mid-2014.

Against this backdrop, reportedly, “amidst the government’s contemplation for getting a resolution in support of launching NWA operation passed from the National Assembly”, which it failed to do, “the military commanders met on the second and final day of 69th Formation Commanders Conference, chaired by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, at the GHQ.” The military leadership is said to have linked the launch of NWA offensive to a decision to be taken by political leadership. This indicates that the key stakeholders are following the “wait and see policy”.

On the other hand, reports from Washington that the US representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Marc Grossman, is visiting Islamabad to discuss the modalities of the NWA operation have been denied by our Foreign Office. The Foreign Office spokesman says that the pressure is on the State Department in the light of some understanding between President Barack Obama and President Asif Zardari as well as between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar during their recent meetings in New York. Senior retired officers of the army, navy and air force and representatives of the civil society participating in the NSSC meeting were of the unanimous view that the complex military operation in the harsh and unfriendly mountain terrain of Waziristan, with cold weather and snow all around, is not likely to be undertaken during the next few months. The participants of the meeting were of the view that the fallout of such an operation was sure to displace thousands of locals as it happened when the Swat operation was launched. The North Waziristan operation was going to be worse than the Swat operation.

On the other hand, the violent nature of political response particularly from opposition parties is likely to create a tsunami of lawlessness to be set off not only by the local Taliban agents and their sympathizers, but also by foreign hands in an unholy alliance to destabilise Pakistan.

Considering the prevailing situation, the Election Commission of Pakistan would find it hard to hold the coming general election in Fata and even, perhaps, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab. According to the press reports on October 18, 2012, the ECP wants elections under the judiciary.

The Chief Election Commissioner has stated that he has written a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan requesting him to allow appointment of judges as District Presiding Officer and Returning Officers. I need not repeat the remarks of the CJP about the political government of Balochistan having failed to discharge their functions according to the constitution.

The NSSC meeting regretted to note that whereas the masses were in the grip of militancy and lawlessness, no one in power was giving priority to good governance. Major organs of the state are at loggerheads with one another. The poverty index has reached an all time high of 51 percent as per UN reports. There is an exploding population in the country, with a huge youth bulge mostly without schooling and jobs. Several local and foreign players are engaged in destabilising Pakistan, each with its own agenda to undo nuclear Pakistan.

On top of this, the USA is currently engaged in going ahead with pulling out bulk of its forces from Afghanistan by 2014 excluding any geostrategic role for Pakistan in this region, particularly in Afghanistan whereas as neighbours Pakistan, China and Russia all have a natural part to play. Afghanistan and Pakistan are so geographically located that they are a doorway to the Central Asia.

The year 2013 is therefore going to be difficult year for Pakistan where economy, law and order, indeed, virtually everything is in a depressing state. Military operation launched in North Wazirastan in the winter this year would be a big risk. It could result in postponing the general elections.

The NSSC was, therefore, of the unanimous view that no stone should be left unturned and all efforts would be made to hold general elections as scheduled after an interim government has been formed. It would be proper for the new elected representative of the people to decide whether to launch an operation in North Waziristan or not.

The writer is President of the Pakistan National Forum. Email: ikramullahkhan1@yahoo.com