Will Operation Raddul Fasaad be effective?

Published: March 20, 2017
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Soldiers patrol at an empty bazaar during a military operation against Taliban militants in the main town of Miramshah in North Waziristan on July 9, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

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, over a hundred “militants” were reported dead. Again – these hideouts seem to have magically appeared.

If I am not mistaken this is the 13th military operation against extremist militants – and each operation has been preceded by the same dense macabre. The aftermath too, has been identical; the operation results in a certain amount of territory being cleared of militants and there is a temporary lull in attacks, following which the violence resumes.

The much touted National Action Plan is now two-years-old, and it is painfully obvious that the capacity of terrorists to inflict large-scale harm at will is undiminished. Apart from the recent attacks in Lahore, Sehwan and Charsadda, the last six months have seen several major terror incidents in Quetta alone. Large-scale incidents also occurred last year in Khuzdar, Mardan, Peshawar, Charsadda and Lahore, which saw the Allama Iqbal Park massacre last March, the bloodiest post-Partition violence the city has seen.

For the government and the army to claim that they have made great strides in fighting terror is an affront to the dead, the maimed and the families of victims. So it is time, please, for some honest perspective.

According to a press release by the military’s media wing on February 23rd, Punjab will be central to the operation and up to 2,000 Punjab Rangers have been deployed to this effect. According to the statement issued by the military’s media wing,

“The operation aims at indiscriminately eliminating residual/latent threat of terrorism, consolidating gains of operations made thus far and further ensuring security of the borders.”

Furthermore, DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor has stated that Raddul Fasaad will consolidate on the “success” of all prior operations and will target all miscreants “whether they exist within or outside the country”.

On March 1st, ISPR quoted COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa during a visit to the Multan Garrison saying,

“Through Operation Raddul Fasaad we will take on all fasaadies and play our part in bringing back normalcy in our country.”

Here is my concern though, what guarantee is there that this operation will be anything more than a further pursuance of the game of whack-a-mole that the state has been playing with violent extremism since 2001? What sign is there that civilian institutions will start playing their due role in fighting terrorism and providing security to the brutalised and traumatised citizenry?

Because this is what I foresee, report after report will emerge of terrorists being flushed out, apprehended and killed. A military-paramilitary dragnet will sweep through the country, bringing terrorist attacks to a halt.

Meanwhile, religious seminaries, including madrassas, known to be associated with terror groups will continue to operate almost entirely unregulated by the Board of Education. Sectarian groups, despite supposed bans, will continue to operate freely, collect donations, and propagate anti-Shia, anti-Ahmadi and anti-Sufi hatred with impunity.

Meanwhile, the civilian government and institutions will mostly remain bystanders in the anti-terror effort. They will offer all sorts of great advice and write splendid op-eds but civilian security will firmly remain the domain of General Head Quarters (GHQ).

Military operations alone will never suffice unless police reform and political reform also occur, and till civilian institutions are the vanguard of civilian security. Moreover, in Balochistan, interior Sindh and the tribal areas, a reconciliation effort along the lines of post-apartheid South Africa is needed to heal the trauma and mistrust state policies have created. While the youth continue to disappear and bodies continue to get dumped, large pockets of sympathy for militants of all shades will endure.

The hate, bigotry and networks run deep and wide. The trust in the state outside of Punjab runs very low. In such an atmosphere of mistrust and untended wounds, nothing short of a national reconciliation commission, police reform, nationwide regulation of madrassas and ending murderous hate speech against minority sects will suffice.

So stop putting your fingers in the hole. The levee was breached when you invited the flood in. The civilian and military leadership need to start putting the country before themselves. A nation is made up of its people and the Pakistani citizenry needs to be put first.

Khusro Tariq

Khusro Tariq

The author is a Pakistani-American Psychiatrist currently pursuing training in Jungian psychoanalysis. He blogs on Huffington Post on matters of psychology, faith, politics and poetry. He tweets as @KhwajaKhusro (twitter.com/KhwajaKhusro)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Rohan

    From the successful failure of zarb e gazab the operation has now been renamed to radd ul Fake-aadRecommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Zarb E Azb is an utter failure. Indians had warned that bombing villages from the air won’t do any good. The advance warning given to Terrorists before the actual operation started did no good either. All the militants had to do was to sneak into Afghanistan or to other cities in Pakistan and find shelter in one of the many madressahs and mosques in Pakistan.
    It also created 1 million IDPs, whose properties were destroyed in the bombing. They have no home to go back to.
    There is no accountability in Pakistani Army. No one faced any action for 65 and 99 wars with India and 71 genocide of Bengalis.
    Hence, they don’t need to act effectively, they just have to appear to act effectively. When they are in a tight spot, they blame India.
    Things will never change in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Mohd Farhan

    it is not an “utter failure” because suicide bombing is almost non existent now.Recommend

  • Mohd Farhan

    it is not an “utter failure” because suicide bombing is almost non existent now.
    Bombing from air beat terrorists and army also bombed in afghan area that bordered pakistan aka true surgical strike!
    Yes there should have been accountability of 71 massacre but establishment is dominant in many parts of the world.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    “it is not an “utter failure” because suicide bombing is almost non existent now.”

    You just had a Suicide Bombing in Lahore! Near Punjab Assembly.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Lahore_suicide_bombing

    One year ago you had another killing more than 75 people.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Lahore_suicide_bombing

    Feb 15 2017, Feb 16 2017, 21 Feb 2017. All these dates Suicide Attacks took place.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorist_incidents_in_Pakistan_in_2017

    Mumbai attacks happened in 2009 and India still hasn’t forgotten. Terror attacks in Muslim countries is so common, nobody even remembers them!

    Zarb E Azb is a failure because most of the militants simply ran away before the operation even started as your genius military announced they are coming well in advance.

    But, it created more than a million IDPs.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/06/pakistan-war-loss-hope-displaced-150615090443950.html

    “With journalists barred from travelling to North Waziristan, the principle source of information about the battle is a steady stream of press releases from the Pakistani military, which claims to have killed more than 2,000 “terrorists”, including hundreds described as “foreigners” and zero civilians. In November 2014, the military announced it had “cleared” 90 percent of the area, but official reports of soldiers being killed, now numbering more than 200, continue to be issued.

    “I heard on the radio we had to leave, that we had three days to get out,” Farhadullah says, recalling the scene last June. “We left everything in our homes. There were not enough cars to carry people, so most of us came on foot from Mir Ali to Bannu.”
    Operations are meant to help people and hurt Terrorists. Terrorist networks seem intact, but more than a million people have lost everything they own.
    You are unwilling to recognize it a failure, forget acting on fixing it. How can you fix a problem if you don’t even recognize it exists?
    Stop blaming the military only. Bhutto was the PM and he could have punished the perpetrators. What an irony, the general he promoted ended up taking his life. Cruel irony.Recommend

  • Rohan

    Maybe inside your homeRecommend

  • Omar Mirza

    Anoop,
    Suicide bombing has been reduced drastically after Zarb-e-Azb; drone strikes have also become close to non-existent. This is a success, and nobody can deny it.
    Worry about your failure in Kashmir, whose people definitely do not want you; some democracy!Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    478 dead in 2017, most of it in Lahore, Pakistans 2nd biggest city.

    http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/database/casualties.htm

    Zarb e azb has moved the war closer to your home. It is not something undeniable as you claim. If the trend persists 2000 or more people will die in 2017. Very successful indeed!

    Drone strikes were done with approval from your military in exchange for money. That is why CSF funds have reduced drastically and you guys are approaching ADB for a 700 million $ loan.

    If Islamists are killed in Kashmir, I’m least bothered. Pakistan kills Islamists all the time. Nobody cares, including you. Recommend