Ihsan Dawar ( North Waziristan Agency)
After the return of the ISI Chief Gen. Zaheer Ul Islam from the US visit, the news of a joint military venture in North Waziristan against Haqqani Net Work is being circulated in the national and international media. Pakistan is actually between the devil and the deep sea position if seen in the context of the prevailing circumstances inside the country and outside in the international community.
For the last some time criticism over the legality of drone attacks have gained a lot of momentum on national and international level especially after the incident of Salala where 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by ISAF air strikes in Mohmand Agency on 26th Nov, 2011.
Internally, political parties and religious groups have put a lot of pressure over the legitimacy of drone attacks in the country. Questions often asked are whether these attacks are carried out by US alone or Pakistani government is assisting US and CIA in the selection of the target. Many analysts are of the view that Pakistan is providing ground information and also drones are operated from Pakistan but it has been denied by the officials time and again, though their stance is apparently a weak one.
Another question is that if it is supposed that Pakistan is not assisting CIA in conducting drone attacks, than what the sovereignty of the country means?
Again if seen in the perspective of the innocent killings in the drones, it is also a big question mark that which law of the nations allow US or lets say Pakistan to kill innocent people including women and children ruthlessly by missiles and heavy bombings.
All these and same more questions have put Pakistani government and the military in a fix.
On one side, there is international community has a perpetual demand (with US at the top) for a full fledged military action against the militants in North Waziristan especially the Haqqani network which is considered to be the top enemy of NATO and US in most parts of Afghanistan. On the other side Pakistan is reluctant to take action against Haqqani network as it will create a lot of new problems in the country.
It is crystal clear that once operation in North Waziristan is started, it will never be lemmatized to only targeted points, rather it will spread like a wild fire and if seen in people’s perspective it is feared that more than half a million population will be forced to migrate from North Waziristan Agency.
It is sure, keeping in view the past experiences of the military operations in tribal areas and in North Waziristan in specific, that not only a huge population of the area will be exposed to a lot of sufferings and humiliations, but also Pakistani security forces will have to pay a heavy price in the shape of their lives as seen in the past.
What will be the possible benefits from the operation in North Waziristan is not yet clear to the public except one which is to please US government and the expected aid to help the melting down economy of the country almost eaten up by the rulers and the elite class. But it is more than sure that public will have to pay for their luxuries and corruption.
Local military officials have time and again ruled out any kind of military action in North Waziristan and have turned the rumors as a conspiracy of the anti state elements to destabilize the law and order situation in the country. They express their views off the record but it is clear that they see the repercussions of the operation in the future over the whole of the country and they are not on the wrong side because they are on the ground and observing every thing on daily basis. They also understand the possible mass displacements as a result of the operation and the extra ordinary burden over the urban population already crying under the heavy burden of IDPs from Khyber, South Waziristan, Kurram, Orakzai, Bajur and Mohmand agencies.
But now as the news of a full ledged action is coming out from very authentic and high sources (though it has not been categorically said that military action is decided), so definitely the poor fellows of Waziristan who has nothing to do with the militancy and the war on terror, a sense of fear and the possible effects over them have been on increase in them.
They have experienced several times the worst kind of hardships and humiliations in the past when there were operations in 2006 and 2007 but they also see that things remained the same as were before the operation.
Therefore it is clear that if US and Pakistan decide to have joint military action in North Waziristan, it will most probably never get the favor of the local people not because they love militants but because they have seen the results.
While talking over the issue a resident of North Waziristan, Jehan Zeb Khan told that they are not hopeful of any good future of this operation.
“I am sure that it will increase the problems of the poor people of Waziristan rather to bring peace and stability in the area” said Jehan Zeb adding that the govt should hold talks with the militants as US is doing with the Afghan Taliban.
Another one Sharifullah, from North Waziristan Said that people are living peacefully in North Waziristan and life is coming back to normalcy after the last operation in 2007.
“Business and education are gaining momentum and people have taken a sigh of relief, why govt is going to push them back to the worst kind of living in the tents” said Sahrif adding that they cannot enjoy life because of the rumors of the operation time and again from one side or another.
Sherzada Khan 22 said that the govt is going to increase the number of baggers in the shape of IDPs (internally displaced people).
“Why government doesn’t ask US to settle the issue amicably” said Sherzada adding that they had seen a lot of bloodshed and restlessness in the country ad it should come to an end.
Whatever the opinion of the people may be, it is a fact that the possible joint operation in North Waziristan will open a new wave of an endless law and order situation in the country while on the other hand it will also destroy the whole set up of life in North Waziristan.
Although some analysts are of the opinion that the operation will be a kind of surgical strikes and the common population will not be affected by it but it is impossible to stop the spread of this fire which will surely turn to ashes not only locals of North Waziristan but also the whole of the country will have to bear the brunt of the joint venture.
The wise thing is to search for a durable solution without any bloodshed as all the wars are settled over the table after shedding blood of the combatants. So it would be a wise thing for both US and Pakistan to see for this option rather than the red one.(firstname.lastname@example.org)