More than a year has passed since Zarb-e-Azb took off, and a little less since the operation’s extension, of sorts, into Karachi. The principal arguments then was that the operation would definitely go all-ahead after militants housed in urban centres, but it was important to go after corruption and political militancy first. Much headway was made in Sindh. MQM was pushed against the wall and PPP co-chairman suddenly blew hot and cold and then made a hasty retreat to Dubai. There are, however, no signs of what is to follow. How much further will this operation go? Will there be high profile arrests, especially now that law enforcement agencies (LEAs) have apparently gathered enough evidence to nab big fish.
And it will not be easy to put off questions about the operation’s ingress into Punjab much longer. Everybody knows how deeply certain militant organisations – some former (allegedly) establishment proxies – are embedded in the fabric of inland Punjab. And everybody knows how close PML-N has been – some say still is – to some of the most potent among them. Some of these outfits have been blamed – with credible evidence apparently – of some of the most gruesome sectarian crimes in the country’s history. Yet the war against terrorism is all the rage and these blocs continue to enjoy their usual immunity.
As the government both in the centre and Punjab, it is for the ruling party to put such doubts to rest once and for all. True, there have been advances, however limited, which must be appreciated. There have been arrests of prayer leaders preaching hatred, which has set an important precedent that must be appreciated. Hopefully these advances will be implemented on a far larger scale. Finally, those in power will have to turn their attention to militant outfits long used to taking the law in their own hands. The longer the government delays this inevitability, the more it weakens itself against upstarts it is protecting.