Time the government faces militants head on
The more realistic section of the PML-N seems to have convinced the prime minister that an operation against the Taliban is the only way to stop them from attacking innocent population and security forces. This was made possible after the failure of the unrealistic policy of talks dictated by a section in the party which is out of touch with reality. Those who defended the TTP’s murderous attacks as reaction to drone attacks were badly exposed when the attacks multiplied during a drone strike-free period of three months. Despite the government bending over backwards to make peace talks successful, the TTP remained committed to violence. Its apologists have beaten a retreat for the time being.
The two-point conclusion by Sartaj Aziz conveyed to media reps on Thursday accorded with the predictions of those who supported military operation as the only short term deterrent against terrorist attacks. Aziz said that Pakistani Taliban were not serious about talks and the targeted action had been beneficial. Presumably the conclusions are based on the information shared with the prime minister and ministers for interior and defence by the COAS, DG ISI and DG MO at a meeting on Wednesday. The shelling of terrorist hideouts inside South Waziristan and areas bordering the Agency in DIK was conducted on the basis of these conclusions.
One had hoped the PML-N government would take a clear stand on how to deal with the TTP and other terrorists groups soon after being sworn in. It continued however to flip flop as elements in the party made unrealistic claims and indulged in heroics. One maintained that the time had come to choose between dollars and honour and berated a colleague who said the drone strikes were about to come to an end. An unrepentant Ch Nisar once again blamed drone strikes for turning away the TTP from parleys as he unveiled the new security policy on Wednesday.
While parties with a soft corner for the militants like the JI, JUI-F and JUI-S are on the defensive now, prominent ulema belonging to the Brelvi school have labelled them as political wings of the Taliban. They have demanded an end to parleys and giving army a free hand to crush the terrorists. There is a need however to recognise the limitations of a military operation which is only a short term solution and that too if strictly targeted and vigilantly overseen by the civilian administration. Meanwhile the government has to hammer out and urgently implement a long term policy to contain terrorism. The IDPs have to be properly accommodated and adequately compensated for losses suffered by them. The civilian administration in FATA has to be revived and strengthened so that it can take over the running of the Agencies from the army. The civilian administration has to ensure the security of the area and the safety of the returning IDPs.