Stories about North Waziristan

Will Operation Raddul Fasaad be effective?

February 17, 2017: Within hours of the Sehwan attack, terrorist hideouts are magically discovered all over the country and over a hundred “militants” are killed across Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the tribal belt. Yet another military operation, by the name of “Raddul Fasaad” (“elimination of discord/violence/mischief”) is announced. I don’t know about you but I’ll tell you what I’m feeling; it’s called deja vu, the feeling that this has all happened before. And that might just be because it has. Flashback to June 15, 2014: Following the attack on Jinnah International Airport, the military launched Operation “Zarb-e-Azb” (“cutting strike”). This operation targeted militant hideouts in North Waziristan and along the Afghan border. Within a week, ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan’s new army chief: A reality check

To many in Pakistan, Qamar Javed Bajwa is an unknown soldier. Yet yesterday, he became arguably the country’s most powerful person when he swore in as its next army chief. Testimonials about Bajwa are overwhelmingly positive. Those who know him say he’s a proponent of strong civil-military relations – the main reason, according to one account, why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a man who has often sparred with the army, selected Bajwa for the job. He’s not seen as reflexively hostile to India, and he once served under an eventual Indian Army chief while on a United Nations mission in Congo. He’s regarded as low-key and camera-shy, yet also ...

Read Full Post

Are more children going to pay the price for Pakistan’s indecisive stance towards religious extremism?

Back in December 2014, Taliban terrorists attacked a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing 151 people, most of them students. It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan’s terrorism-tortured history, and prompted some Pakistanis to describe it as their 9/11. National leaders, meanwhile, described the massacre as a turning point in the nation’s approach to terrorism. They vowed to crack down more robustly against all terrorists in Pakistan— not just those, like the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), that strike in Pakistan, but also those like the Haqqani Network that strike only in neighbouring countries. To an extent, Pakistan did indeed intensify its campaign against terrorism. It ramped up military operations against the ...

Read Full Post

Even after one year, Mehwish remains an IDP

Mehwish is a nine-year-old girl who lives in Haider Khel, a small village in Tehsil Mir Ali, North Waziristan. She has a younger brother named Akash and a widowed mother and grandmother. She is currently living as an internally displaced person (IDP) in Muhammad Khel, Bannu, where she shares a half-kenal house with five other families; approximately, 30 individuals presently reside in the same house. Mehwish was only three-years-old when her father, Shakeel, was targeted and killed by an unknown airstrike in 2007. After her father’s demise, Mehwish has been very pro-active with her studies. She, like countless other Malalas, strived for education and began her early schooling ...

Read Full Post

As a student in grade 9, I pledge my future to Pakistan – do you?

On December 16th, around 10am, a group of heavily armed men belonging to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) stormed the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar. These men opened fire and took several students hostage in the main auditorium of the school. The number of casualties is officially reported to be over 140 and more than 180 injured. TTP has claimed this attack to be in retaliation to Pakistan’s military offensive known as Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which started in June, 2014, in North Waziristan. This school was attacked in an attempt to kill the future military potential of Pakistan, in the hopes of ...

Read Full Post

180 million hearts broken… again

Jallianwala. Dhaka. Quetta. North Waziristan. Peshawar. Places change but stories remain the same. That doesn’t make the heartbreak any more bearable. The unanswerable ‘why’ still looms over our heads. Why this? Why now? Why us? Today’s massacre in Peshawar reverberates throughout the country. I cannot even fathom what the parents of the children are going through but I write to tell them they are not alone, it is the least I can do. It is the least I can do to at least try to reach a level of catharsis which will make me feel capable of ever feeling again, which will make me ...

Read Full Post

The problem with “collateral damage” in a “surgical air-strike”

The questioning gaze of that drone victim, who lost one of his family members – with eight others injured – on the fateful day of October 24, 2012, in a drone strike at South Waziristan, still haunts my memory every time a new strike occurs. Just today, four more people were killed in North Waziristan; they too shall be termed as “collateral damage” of a “precise air-strike” against “terrorists” hiding in the “safe havens”, and forgotten or not even talked about as individual human beings in the first place. When will this loss of innocent human life stop? Who will make the American government accountable for this ...

Read Full Post

Drones, Pakistan’s worst kept secret

The current surge in drone strikes in FATA has reignited the infamous ‘drone debate’ and ‘Pakistan’s tacit agreement’ on intelligence sharing with the United States. Only a few months ago, Peter Bergen, a US expert on drones, had revealed that the CIA drone campaign in Pakistan may have finally come to an end. Not only Bergen, but even the current Nawaz-led PML-N government boasted of lobbying against drones and convincing the Obama administration to cease the strikes. Till June this year, one could believe these reports and revelations as there was a long hiatus in predator strikes. However, it was on June 11 when, negating such ...

Read Full Post

The brilliant minds of our insurgents

As Zarb-e-Azb moves towards a ground offensive in Miranshah, bomb disposal units are assigned the daunting task of safely detonating troves of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) precariously stacked in numerous factories scattered across town. A junior military officer, part of one such unit, reflected on a mission he had successfully carried out earlier in the day. Referring to the IED composition, he said, “They (TTP) are damn experts, awesome work. Brilliant minds how they use local materials urea and the likes to make IEDs, awesome. I wish I could get trained by them”. Simply by an apt assessment of the adversary’s skill set, in this case ...

Read Full Post

Either pay attention to K-P or resign, Imran Khan!

A Sikh trader, Harjeet Singh, was killed in Peshawar. This was the fifth target killing of Sikh traders living in Pakistan; in 2014, two Sikhs were killed in Charsadda and two were killed in Peshawar. But the reaction to Harjeet Singh’s murder was very different. Sikhs have been living in Pakistan since the 19th century when Peshawar and Punjab were under the rule of Ranjeet Singh. While many other minority communities left Pakistan after the partition in 1947, a number of Sikhs stayed back and considered themselves safe in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). However, after the recent killings, the scenario has ...

Read Full Post