|Wave of violence|
|Wednesday, October 14, 2009|
Gradually the complexity and boldness of the Taliban raid on GHQ is being exposed – somewhat quicker than usual for these events, which is a welcome relief from the smokescreen that usually surrounds them. The operation was planned not in southern Punjab as speculated by many, but in South Waziristan. The attackers sought to take hostage senior officers and use them as leverage to gain the release of up to 100 of their comrades in arms, demand the trial of General Musharraf and an end to American use of our airbases. Whilst most of the population would not accede to their demands for the release of their comrades, there is probably a majority of the population who would support their call for an end to American use of our bases and the drone strikes, with perhaps a smaller proportion wanting to see Musharraf tried. It is also clear that there was some element of electronic intercept of the conversations between the various components of the assault group. On the morning of the attack a conversation between TTP commander Waliur Rehman and 'another person' revealed that the attack had its origins in South Waziristan and that this person was asked to 'pray for the Fedayeen attacking the GHQ'. If nothing else this suggests that our ability to conduct elint operations has advanced and would seem effective. It would not seem to be matched by capacity of the humint side of the equation that would allow the marrying of human and electronic intelligence into a real-time actionable picture. The much-vexed matter of whether there had been a security lapse was sidestepped by the adroit footwork of DG ISPR Maj-Gen Athar Abbas. He said that the terrorists achieved less than 10 per cent of their objectives, that the majority were stopped at the perimeter and that the army response as the siege developed was both appropriate and timely, taking into account the need to preserve the lives of the hostages. It was announced that a further three SSG commandos had died of their wounds overnight bringing the military death toll to 14; with nine terrorists killed and one captured – a ratio that will bring little comfort to the military high command.....
The new wave of violence unleashed by militants continues, with the third major attack in four days. This time, a military convoy passing through a bazaar in the Alipuri area of Shangla district was targeted, apparently by a bomber aged around 14 years. He becomes like those killed as a result of his actions, another child victim of terrorism. At least 41 people, including four soldiers and three policemen were killed. The latest attack seems to mock the insistent statements from the interior minister that the militants are on the run. At present they seem to be running nowhere at all but firmly holding their ground. It is becoming apparent that for all the claims, the operation against them cannot be termed the final triumph against militancy. There have been some assessments pointing out that key militant leaders, such as the 'Dr Usman' held at the GHQ, are now themselves coming forward. This could be a sign of desperation on the part of the militants, a desire to demonstrate they have not yet been beaten. But this of course is mere conjecture. We do not really know what is happening or how the Tehrik-e-Taliban and its allies are thinking. What we do know is that the optimism of ordinary people is fading. The jubilation that came with the sense that militancy was on its way out and the terrifying bomb blasts we have witnessed over the past few years could be a thing of the past has receded. Fear again walks with us. Messages sent over texting services warn of more blasts to follow and advise people to keep away from busy places.
Our government needs to act quickly to ensure triumph is not snatched away from us. The militants have in recent months felt the weight of public opinion bear down on them. The pressure must be kept up. To ensure this, we need to see a continued demonstration of a will to defeat militancy. Action in South Waziristan is one way of keeping up the momentum and moving forward. But the war will not be over even if there is victory here. The consequences of years of inaction are now apparent. Groups in Punjab have aligned themselves with the Taliban. Claims that persons from across the border are involved are absurd. No one believes them. The fighting will have to move here, into the heart of major cities, and drive out the terrorists who have set up bases everywhere. This is not an easy undertaking. The events of the past few days have shown just how difficult it is to fight militancy and win. But there is no option but to continue and to widen the operation against all kinds of terrorists, everywhere in the country. Otherwise we will continue to see the meaningless violence that has already claimed far too many lives and is now resulting in yet more spilled blood. (The News, Editorial)