Military operation in N. Waziristan would be fatal to our military's power and influence in the country. Army may not achieve its short term objectives in N. Waziristan without generating long term public animosity against Army in Pakistan generally and in N. Waziristan particularly. Later on, Army would have nothing to offer to tribal Pakistanis to offset this animosity which would be a continuous cause to erode Army's power and influence in Pakistan.
Government’s view is that North Waziristan is providing shelter to Taliban and Al-qaeda’s remnants which need to be flushed out of this area so that anti-state activities by these militants in Pakistan may be controlled. This stated objective of military operation in N. Waziristan is not only shrouded with grave confusion but also smacks of fighting against reflection without removing the real cause of the problem.
The first thing to ascertain is whether Pak army would be able to evict militants from N. Waziristan forever. What strategy would be adopted, if militants, during or before military operation, shift to Afghanistan or other parts of Pakistan to come back again in N. Waziristan after the operation is over? Is Pakistan ready to deploy military permanently in N. Waziristan and bear financial burden permanently in this respect? Pakistan is already not considered very conducive place to invest in, what if militants shift to settled areas during military operation? Is Pakistan ready to face fallout of this military operation in economic and social terms? Is this military operation and its implications fit in the Pakistan’s post USA withdrawal regional strategy? Has Pakistan decided to align with anti-taliban forces in Afghanistan? Could such an alliance with anti-taliban forces serve Pakistan’s foreign policy interests in a better or worse manner in post USA’s withdrawal period? Has Pakistan worked out strategy (if it is possible) to contain negative implications of this military operation to the time of USA’s withdrawal from the region?
All these are the questions which need to be answered along with workable strategy before going to military operation in N. Waziristan.
Most important of all, it needs to be clarified by Pakistan whether military operation in N. Waziristan is the only solution to the problem or other options are also available to achieve the stated objective of this military operation. This question, in fact, relates to the real causes of growth of militarism/extremism in Pakistan. This surge of militarism in Pakistan has its roots in peoples’ dissatisfaction with the government’s policies and state systems/institutions which do not deliver to the satisfaction of peoples’ aspirations. These aspirations are not only religious but also social and economic ones. Our existing state systems/institutions do not have capability to come up to peoples’ expectations, even if such institutions are reformed in the best manner keeping within the parameters of existing state systems/institutions. What is required is not to reform existing state institutions but to erect these institutions on entirely different foundations. We have seen failure of Judiciary in recent years to provide justice to the people, though this judicial system has been reformed in the best possible manner. Similarly our political, economic and administrative institutions cannot perform according to peoples’ aspirations, even if they are reformed in the best manner. These institutions may perform well in non-islamic societies where peoples’ aspirations may not be conflicting to such institutions’ performance. But in Islamic societies like Pakistan, state institutions have to be in line with Islamic aspirations of the people. Turkey did its best to achieve socio-economic and political development through secular values and institutions but in vain. Now they are starting to value Islamic aspirations of people, and as a result their social, political, economic and educational institutions are performing better than before though still Turkey has a long way to go to establish Islamic institutions.
In short, we need in Pakistan to establish Islamic political, economic, social and legal systems, if we want to suppress militarism/extremism in Pakistan. Only Islamic institutions can perform to the satisfaction of peoples’ aspirations; when peoples’ aspirations would be satisfied, there would be no encouragement to go for militarism.
But, of course, establishment of Islamic institutions is a long term solution to the problem. The short term solution lies in negotiations with the militants. One of the causes of suicidal attacks in Pakistan are drone attacks which are launched against militants with complicity of Pakistan’s authorities. Pakistan’s authorities should stand with militants to stop these drone attacks; such a good-will gesture on the part of Pakistan’s authorities may pave way to successful negotiations with militants to end suicidal attacks in Pakistan. If suicidal attacks are discontinued, Pakistan should not bother about USA’s demand to launch military operation in N. Waziristan. In order to abridge trust deficit between militants and Pakistan’s government, Pakistan may announce discontinuation of NATO supply through Pakistan till end of drone attacks against militants.
If Pakistan’s Army undertakes military operations in N. Waziristan to the blatant disregard of above discussed factors, it will surely be fatal to Pak Army’s influence and power in Pakistan.