PESHAWAR - Amping up its efforts to combat militants and put a stop to their activities, the government is likely to give a green signal for a decisive military action in North Waziristan. The move is aimed at facilitating the efforts for peace across the border in Afghanistan, and in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Pakistan Today has learnt through some highly-placed sources that a decision in principle has been taken in this regard in a meeting of a high-powered committee a couple of days back in Peshawar. The committee comprises the governor and chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Peshawar Corps Commander. However, the no date has yet been finalised for the military action in North Waziristan.
The sources claim that the committee insisted on military action after the incident on 15 April, 2012, in which over 200 militants attacked Central Jail, Bannu, and released some 384 prisoners. The prison held some of the terrorists convicted and sentenced by the courts. Among those who escaped, Adnan Rashid was prominent. He was sentenced to death in a failed attempt on the life of former President, Pervez Musharraf.
Though some 100 escaped prisoners have been re-arrested, as many as 150 of them, all hardcore militants, are now believed to be hiding in scattered areas of North Waziristan. The jail-breaking militants were tasked with targeting high profile politicians, tribal elders who are loyal to government, bureaucrats and police officers. The ruling party of the province, Awami National Party, has been a particularly favourite target for them.
They say that in order to ensure safety of troops and avert terrorist acts, the administration has been imposing a weekly curfew on Sundays. The troops move from one station to another only on that particular day, and this has been going on for the last several weeks, some of the tribal sources informed Pakistan Today.
The NATO factor: The situation in the neighbouring Afghanistan is also a factor in speeding up the government’s reaction. An attack in Kabul on a hotel the other day, killing 20 people, has pressed the government of Pakistan even further. The NATO and US forces in Afghanistan have blamed the attack on the Haqqani network, based in North Waziristan.
“Afghan National Security Forces and coalition military sources acknowledge that this attack bears the signature of the Haqqani network, which continues to target and kill innocent Afghans and blatantly violate Afghan sovereignty from the safety of Pakistan,” Gen John R Allen, ISAF commander and commander of US troops in Afghanistan said.
They have been calling on Pakistan for a military action in the region for some time now. Tension between the two countries, the US and Pakistan, after the Salala incident have though apparently not subsided, there clearly seems to be some movement. The operation, a long standing demand of the US, would offer a clear indication that both countries want to move forward now.
Public support: Even though Pakistan’s military is already conducting a military operation in South Waziristan, the government is seemingly left with no option but to embark on a decisive military action against the militants. Strategies are being laid down by the security forces to achieve the objectives. However, military leadership is of the view that public support is a must before they move into the area. The armed forces intend Swat-like scenario where common men vacated the area and endorsed the military action against the banned Taliban, headed by Mullah Fazal Ullah. Tribesmen of North Waziristan, however, have pointed out the wide ranging fears among the locals regarding military action. Some well-to-do families have already shifted to safe places.