By Farman Nawaz (unpublished article)
After South Waziristan Operation, the western powers hoped that soon Pakistan army will launch operation in North Waziristan. However we have to understand the reasons why the government and the army are not ready to do it right away. After successful army operations in various areas Pakistan is facing some serious problems regarding rehabilitation of IDPs and ‘clear and hold’ policy. The army is trying to create such an environment that people of North Waziristan must overwhelmingly support the army operation. To assure the people that the militants would not be allowed to return to the area is a time-consuming job in the sense that the local people are unsure of whom to believe.
Besides local problems there are some external factors which cause delay in North Waziristan operation. There is clearly some clash between the interests of the Pakistan army and the US in North Waziristan. Pakistan considers local Taliban a threat to its security while US believes that Afghan Taliban is a threat to peace in Afghanistan.
There are differences in perceptions over the pulling out of NATO troops from Afghanistan, the reconciliation with Taliban and the role of India in Afghanistan’s affairs. The recent developments in the region, particularly US President Barack Obama’s visit to India, have made Islamabad cautious about North Waziristan operation.
However it also astonishes that US after having problems at home is trying to have a safe way out of Afghanistan even ready for reconciliation with Taliban, but on the other hand she is pressurizing the trembling Pakistan to launch an army operation in North Waziristan. Why US is opposed to Pakistan army’s reconciliation with Afghan Taliban? Logically it is wrong if Pakistani is not starting operation against Afghani Taliban. Taliban – whatever their affiliation is- are a serious threat for our solidarity. The only solution is to prevent this cancer from spreading in our society. But is it possible from military point of view? When Pakistan started operations against Pakistani Taliban it resulted in bloodshed in every nook and corner of Pakistan. So is it suitable to start a war against Afghani Taliban at this critical situation? Moreover, may be America reaches any agreement with Afghani Taliban in Afghanistan so any coalition of Pakistani and Afghani Taliban can engrave the situation for us that can lead to civil war in Pakistan.
But it is also a wrong perception that Afghani Taliban is our strategic asset. If our politicians, bureaucrats, army, journalists and business community can not establish, guarantee and safeguard our interests in our neighboring countries so how can an armed group, rejected by the Afghans, compel our neighbors to bow in front of us. Even during the peak of Taliban regime in Afghanistan, what we have achieved? Had we compelled India to come to our terms? Still we do not have access to central Asian markets and resources. Rather our own assets became a headache for us and a threat to our nuclear assets. Taliban were never our assets. We just nourished them for the selfish interests of western nations. And still their activities are beneficial for western powers to stay in Afghanistan. What we are dreaming that will never come true.
Islamabad-based non-governmental organization CAMP (Community Appraisal and motivation Programme), released the annual opinion poll recently but it did not attract the media attention. According to this survey the support for military operation grew considerably in the last one year. Two-thirds of the respondents, 64.2 percent, have unfavourable opinions about Pakistani Taliban. The idea that the Afghan Taliban are Islamic heroes, who are fighting against Western occupation forces in Afghanistan, has dropped from 40.35 percent in 2009 to 20.2 percent in 2010 poll. According to the survey the support for military offensive against Taliban comes from IDPs. Approximately, 25 percent of the respondents had been displaced people.
This survey shows that Pakistan army with the help of the sitting government is now having the required support to start an operation against Taliban but this operation will be a failure without preplanning for the development of the region. Only an army operation will add to the miseries of the locals. After Peshawar, the most nearest settled Pakistani region to the main cities of Afghanistan is Bannu. Bannu, surrounded by tribal belts from three sides, is a strong military as well as intelligence station and from historical point of view the locals of Bannu are not hostile as compared to other Pathan tribes. Besides this having local supply of gas and electricity, Bannu is connected to all parts of Pakistan especially Punjab, all the parts of Waziristan and even to Afghanistan.
Now when China and Pakistan are celebrating their 60th anniversary of friendly relations, any industrial venture with Chinese collaboration in this region can change the fate of tribal people. Setting up a Chinese industrial zone in Pashtun belt will also help in easing the tension in Karachi which is now presenting the scene of the Beirut of 80’s. Not only our people will get jobs in these industries but rather the products of these industries can be easily exported to Afghanistan and beyond. Only a developmental plan for this area can bring our perverted people back to mainstream national life.