- Latest wave has to be nipped in the bud
The recent uptick in violence in North Waziristan has once again brought into question the stability and future of the war-torn tribal area. The latest attack, which is the fourth major incident within a month, was the targeted killing of three men, including a senior civil servant, Zubaidullah Khan. Earlier, multiple firing incidents claimed the lives of five persons in one instance, a prominent leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), Arif Wazir, in another, while the deadliest one was a clash with militants, killing ten security personnel. This is a worrying trend that can very easily get out of hand and if immediate corrective action is not taken all the progress that has been made in the past few years could be reversed. For over a decade up until 2014, Waziristan had been a militant hotbed that was used for training terrorists, keeping hostages and launching attacks against both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Once the Army moved in, within two years, it cleared the region of militants, using force against those who resisted. In the process, the armed forces lost close to 1000 men while killing over 2000 militants.
Since the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) last year, North Waziristan is technically part of the province, but on-ground the region has been under Army control since the operation started there and continues to be run under the same arrangement. Local political leaders held a Jirga in light of the deteriorating law and order situation in the region, demanding action, failing which they would launch protests. This would exacerbate the already tense political equation of the area given the volatile PTM-Army dispute that remains unresolved due to both sides being unable to reach any common ground. In the backdrop of increasing terrorist activity, it will become even more difficult for both sides, one which represents the people of North Waziristan and the other that is responsible for its security and administration, to resolve their differences. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that first this latest spate of terrorism is nipped in the bud so that some understanding can be reached on the model of governance in the region. Only then will North Waziristan have a fighting chance at finally making progress towards becoming a safe and prosperous part of the country.