Saturday, May 23, 2009

Public support growing for military operations

Saturday, May 23, 2009
By Waqar Ahmed

After securing most of the towns, the Pakistan Army has entered in the decisive phase of military operations against the militants in the Malakand Division — intense clashes have erupted on the outskirts of Mingora between the Taliban and military troops, who are now advancing towards the main town in the Swat Valley. In this regard, victory after victory in flushing out the Taliban from the concerned areas has become possible due to the overwhelming public support for the ongoing operations. It is a good sign that on May 18 this year, an all-parties conference (APC) vowed to unite the nation against the insurgency in Swat and Malakand, and to end terror, condemning all violent challenges to the Constitution and the state.

Besides liberal groups, even religious scholars and organisations all over the country have strongly favoured the present military operations, while condemning the activities of the Taliban. In this connection, on May 16, a national-level convention, organised by the Pakistan Mashaikh Council (PMC) at Data Darbar, Lahore, announced full support for the military operation and urged the entire nation to unite against the Talibanisation. In the convention, religious scholars from across the country unanimously declared that they would start a nationwide movement against the Taliban and in support of the military operations, conveying the true message of Islam.

The Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP) head, Sahabzada Fazal Karim, said the Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Sufi Muhammad was a "fake Sufi" and the people of Pakistan did not need his "forced Shariah," further elaborating that the defeat of the Taliban was the success of Islam and Pakistan. Federal Minister for Zakat and Ushr Noorul Haq Qadri remarked that time had come to push the Taliban out of Pakistan. Qadri asked religious scholars to come forward and contribute to the solidarity and stability of Pakistan as their elders did during the Independence movement. On May 17, hundreds of Sunni scholars at the Convention Centre in Islamabad rejected the Taliban brand of Shariah and fully endorsed the ongoing military operations in Swat and other areas of the country.

The fact of the matter is that the general masses and members of the civil society, belonging to every province of the country, have strongly denounced the Taliban, expressing solidarity with security forces. As regards the criminal activities of the Taliban, people had been full of anger at the perennial wave of suicide attacks, assaults on security forces, hostage-taking, killing of innocent people and torching the government buildings, including girls' schools.

In some regions of Fata and the Malakand Division, Taliban leaders had created states within the state. These militants exploded hundreds of girls' schools, video shops, police stations and security checkposts through hand grenades, car suicide bombers, etc. These miscreants were destroying the infrastructure, paralysing industry and halting daily business of the local Pakhtuns, thus badly affecting their source of income. In this respect, Swat Valley had become particular target where, with the open destruction of infrastructure and more than 200 girls' schools, these culprits discouraged women education, keeping them ignorant and exploitable. However, some other crimes of the Taliban such as kidnappings for ransom and car-snatching also annoyed the peace-loving people of the most affected areas of the NWFP.

Another reason of public support for the ongoing military operations is that most of the Taliban have been destabilising Pakistan with the help of external elements. In this connection, US, India and Israel are in collusion against Pakistan. Their secret agencies, CIA, RAW and Mossad are well-established in Afghanistan from where their secret agents have been regularly supplying arms and money to the militants, including their other Pakistani agents with a view to weakening the federation of Pakistan. They have been using various covert tactics in conducting suicide attacks in our country in general and the NWFP in particular. These plotters have also intensified their anti-Pakistan conspiracy by backing the separatist elements of Balochistan. In this context, recently the Asian Tribune online revealed that CIA and RAW had developed their tentacles in Swat, Bajaur, Kurram Agency and Balochistan. Some of the pro-Pakistan groups had been purchased or neutralised and those not coming to terms were eliminated. As regards the potential of the Pakistan Army in relation to the military operations, the Tribune pointed out that instead of getting pleased, the Americans got disturbed since they never intended to control militancy but to spread its flames into the cities and create anarchic conditions.

Nevertheless, while playing into the hands of foreign elements, the militants have been fuelling sectarian violence. Apart from other regions of Pakistan, more than 1,800 people have died in the last two years in sectarian violence in Kurram Agency, bordering Afghanistan. In these areas, external agents have been inciting Sunni Muslims against the minority Shias.

No doubt, the deteriorating security situation in the country coupled with the panic created by the Taliban had no solution except the military operations, which have been launched not only to establish the writ of the government, but also to protect the people of the concerned areas from the inhuman treatment of the Taliban. It is because of the public support to the military operations at large, that Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who had earlier stated that it was the constitutional duty of Pakistan's armed forces to defend the sovereignty and security of Pakistan, re-stated on April 7: "Present security situation requires that all elements of national power should work in close harmony to fight the menace of extremism." In a recent statement, he made it clear that he had ordered the soldiers that the attacks on the militants must be so precise that collateral damage was kept to the minimum during the operations.

It needs particular attention that besides sacrificing their own lives for the security of the country and its citizens, the armed forces have also been providing relief to thousands of people displaced by the Taliban violence and the present fighting in the troubled areas.

Now, the right hour has come that all political parties must reach a consensus on how to counter the Taliban insurgency once for all and must unite with the general masses in supporting the military operations, which are now advancing towards their logical end.



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