May 3, 2009

The right foot forward

The ongoing military operation in Buner shows how much can be achieved, and with relative speed, once there is a willingness to do so. The security forces say around 60 militants have been killed in Buner, including some foreigners. Suicide squads have been made ineffective by taking into possession and then destroying vehicles laden with explosives. The operation shows it is, after all, not all that hard to deal with the militants. Perhaps they are not quite the bogey they have been made out as after all. Certainly, the decisive military operation restores confidence among citizens who had feared their nation could fall into the hands of barbaric Taliban hordes, shoving us all back to the Middle Ages or beyond.The only question perhaps is why we have waited so long. The military has denied the operation in Dir and now Buner has begun under US pressure. Washington too has dismissed stories of a two-week deadline to deal with militants – or face a fall of the government. Whatever the actual factors behind all this, whatever the happenings behind the scenes, the fact that the army has chosen to move in and act is good news. There seems little doubt that the military will, in no time at all, be able to eliminate the threat we face and dig out militants entrenched in our tribal areas. This is what we expect from an institution ranked as the most organized and disciplined force in the country.In this respect, it seems somewhat unfortunate that even after all that has happened, the NWFP government appears to be attempting to stage new peace talks with the TNSM. Surely it must realize this is futile; that such deals and accords can lead us nowhere at all – but indeed only complicate the task of eradicating militancy. There have already been comments from security forces on the fact that militants in Swat are linked to the men of Baitullah Mehsud in Waziristan. There seems of course to be no doubt about this. Militant forces across the country form a whole – a hydra-headed monster that needs to be defeated through a single, cohesive strategy rather than by talking politely to some heads while trying to lop off others. In Buner our military has demonstrated how this can be done. Their efforts have made us all safer. We must now all hope and pray that the phase we are seeing now will continue and that the militants will not at any stage be permitted to get the upper hand.

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