Pakistani army stuck between a rock and a hard place in dealing with terrorists

Pakistani army soldiers military weapons

Unfortunately, Pakistan is caught in a Catch-22 situation - either to adopt proactive measures or a reactive approach while dealing with extremist forces in the country. Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism for over two decades, leaving the country to the destruction of its socio-economic-politico fabric. It was 2001 when the US launched an incursion on Afghanistan along with extremism in Pakistan.

At that time, Afghanistan was ruled by the Afghan Taliban, once trained and financed by the US in collaboration with Pakistan against the Soviet Union. When the US invaded Afghanistan and removed the Taliban from the government, Pakistan sided with the Western forces in fighting its infamous "War on Terror".

The extremist elements in the region including Afghan Taliban, al-Qaeda and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced to wage the war against Pakistan for supporting the Western forces in Afghanistan. Since then, Pakistan has been a constant prey of extremist elements, targeting security forces and civilians.

A day after making uncivilised comment against PM Modi, Pakistan minister now threatens India with nuclear war Hindu woman raped, force fed beef by Shoiab and it is not in Pakistan The TTP, in a bomb blast at a police mosque in Peshawar, killed over 100 people, mostly policemen on Jan 30 last. Just weeks after, two policemen and a Ranger were among four people killed while 16 others sustained injuries in a suicide attack at Karachi police office on 17th Feb.

Pak's war against terrorism hypocritical Recommended Video Israel airstrikes follow Gaza rockets launched in wake of fatal West Bank raid.. The Afghan Taliban appear to have been providing support to TTP, according to a report of the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) released on 16th Feb. The report says that the TTP's political leadership and capability are based in Afghanistan and the outlawed faction has been raising funds through extortion inside Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan.

The TTP also has popular support in Afghanistan, where both Taliban and non-Taliban constituencies are behind the TTP due to an intense dislike for Pakistan. Some Taliban fighters are also joining the TTP, and there are reports of some recent bombers being Afghan. "Yet the balance of opinion within the Taliban is strongly in favour of the TTP. In particular, Taliban Amir Hibatullah Akhundzada agrees with the TTP that the Pakistani system is 'un-Islamic'."

The Pakistani army launched the first major operation, Al-Mizan, against terrorists from 2002 to 2006. At the same time, it signed different peace agreements with the TTP, called the Shakai agreement in 2004, the Sararogha agreement in 2005 and the Swat agreement in 2009.

All the agreements failed as these were never honoured by the TTP because talks for peace were always taken by them as a sign of weakness of the State. In June 2014, operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in North Waziristan to clear it from terrorists. The operation was a success that cleared the region after defeating the Taliban, and those who escaped the operation fled to Afghanistan where they were provided safe-havens.

In February 2017, Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad was launched to consolidate the gains of operations across Pakistan. The operation was a continuation of the National Action Plan (NAP) which was drafted soon after the APS Peshawar attack. On 15 August 2021, the Afghan Taliban took control of Kabul and declared the independence of Afghanistan. According to the media, after taking over Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban requested the government of Pakistan to take back the TTP militants.

Accordingly, talks were held between the government of Pakistan and the TTP facilitated by the Afghan Taliban. The TTP demands included the imposition of Sharia and the release of their militants from Pakistani jails, in addition to the reversal of the merger of Pakistan's tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A ceasefire was agreed upon, however, talks remained inconclusive.

(R C Ganjoo is a senior journalist and columnist having more than 30 years experience of covering issues concerning national security, particularly Kashmir. He has worked with several prominent media groups and his articles have been published in many national and international publications.)


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