Time to Show some firepower

On Feb 21, 2014, the Pakistan Army infantry troops, including SSG commandos, have entered the most difficult mountainous region in the tribal areas in search of terrorist hideouts. The Army sources said the bombardment of the fighter aircraft in North Waziristan tribal region would likely result in more militants being eliminated. The military also expects that after the destruction of arms depots, militants will not be in a position to launch attacks on security forces for a long period. Military officials said the jets carried out air strikes following intelligence reports about the presence of senior local and foreign militants in that area. It was also reported that most of the militants killed in the initial attacks were Uzbeks.

The attacks in North Waziristan and Khyber came in the wake of the breakdown in government’s talks with the Pakistani Tehreek e Taliban, TTP, in the aftermath of TTP Mohmand chapter’s claim of killing 23 Frontier Corps soldiers and the death of a major in an attack on an army vehicle near Peshawar. It is interesting to note that these attacks came in the backdrop of impending talks between the Pakistan Govt and TTP. The Pakistan political establishment had shown its willingness to talk ‘peace’ with TTP. The Pakistan Tehreek I Insaf, PTI, led by Imran Khan was the most vocal supporter of these talks. But now with the public mood turning against TTP and even the lower ranks of PTI exerting pressure on its top brass, it seems the PTI has slightly reworked its strategy vis a vis these talks with TTP. The party on Saturday reiterated its support to the ongoing military strikes against the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)’s hideouts in Wasiristan and elsewhere. “We stand by the military in its fresh drive against Taliban,” said PTI’s Deputy Information Secretary Adnan Randhawa. But he also added that  his party was quite hopeful that Taliban would soon return to the resumption of dialogue with the government’s committee for the restoration of peace in Pakistan. This approach of the PTI is in total contrast to its alliance partner in KPK, The Jamat e Islami whose Ameer Syed Munawwar Hassan,  had recently called TTP leader Hakeemullah Mehsud a martyr. He said that he has strongly opposed the use of force by the military and insisted talks should be the only option even these fail a hundred times.

It is interesting to note that all political parties in Pakistan including the PML-N and PTI have backed, at least publically, this military offensive. The only exception has been the Jamaat which stands out alone in its strong opposition to these strikes against the TTP. Its alliance partner, the PTI has distanced itself from its most trusted ally by throwing support to the armed forces in their campaign against Taliban. It was not long ago that Imran Khan had floated the idea that the TTP be allowed to open its office in Peshawar.

It should be in place here to mention that,  ever since the ‘talks’ bogey started, about 450 people have been killed across Pakistan. These numbers include 308 civilians, 114 soldiers and 38 policemen. It seems the brutal killing of the 23 Frontier Corps personnel last week by the TTP was the wake- up call that the Pakistani State needed to stand up to this monster. One only hopes that this time, it is not a blow hot, blow cold towards the TTP by the Pakistani State, but  the Pakistan Army goes all out to wipe out this menace completely. 

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