Fighting The Good Fight: Pakistan Army’s Strategic And Tactical Successes Against Terrorism – OpEd
The Pakistan government and security forces have undertaken a range of counter-terrorism measures to address this threat, including military operations, intelligence gathering, and law enforcement actions. These efforts have yielded positive results, with a reduction in the number of terrorist incidents and improved security conditions in many parts of the country. Pakistan has been grappling with the menace of terrorism for several years, with numerous militant groups carrying out devastating attacks against civilians, security forces, and government establishment. These attacks have resulted in a significant harm to the country’s social and economic infrastructure.
The primary deciding body for concerns of national security is the NSC (National Security Council). In order to rid the nation of the threat of terrorism with renewed vigor and determination, the NSC has decided to begin an all-out, comprehensive operation with the participation of the entire nation and government. It also stated that actions at the political, diplomatic, security, economic, and social levels would be taken as part of the effort to eradicate the scourge of terrorism from Pakistan in all of its manifestations.
The Pakistan Army has adopted a multi-pronged strategy to root out terrorism in Pakistan. Some of the key components of this strategy include:
- Military Intel-gathering operations: The Pakistan Army has launched several military intelligence operations against various terrorist groups, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other sectarian and extremist groups. These operations have targeted militant hideouts, training camps, and communication networks, and have resulted in the elimination of many high-value targets.
- Intelligence-based operations: Pakistan Army has conducted intelligence-based operations to track down and apprehend militants involved in terrorist activities. These operations rely on actionable intelligence provided by intelligence agencies and involve targeted raids on specific locations.
- Counter-insurgency measures: Pakistan Army has implemented counter-insurgency measures to disrupt the operational capabilities of terrorist groups. These measures include the construction of border fencing to prevent cross-border movement of militants, strengthening of checkpoints, and enhanced surveillance and monitoring of militant activities.
- Rehabilitation and development: Pakistan Army has also been involved in the rehabilitation and development of conflict-affected areas to address the root causes of terrorism. The army has helped to restore basic services, such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure, and has provided economic opportunities to the local population to improve their quality of life.
- International cooperation: Pakistan Army has collaborated with other countries, including the United States, China, and Afghanistan, to combat terrorism. This cooperation has involved intelligence-sharing, joint military exercises, and training programs.
There have been several instances of negotiations and peace talks with certain militant groups in Pakistan in the past. Some of the notable examples include:
- Swat Peace Accord (2009): The Pakistani government signed a peace agreement with the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and its affiliated group, the Swat Taliban, in February 2009. Under the accord, the militants were granted Sharia law in Swat Valley in exchange for laying down their arms. However, the peace agreement fell apart when the Taliban refused to disarm and began attacking security forces and civilians.
- Waziristan Peace Agreement (2006): The government signed a peace agreement with the North Waziristan Taliban in September 2006. The agreement allowed the Taliban to establish Sharia law in the region in exchange for ending attacks on security forces and surrendering their weapons. However, the militants violated the agreement and resumed their attacks.
- Peace talks with the Taliban (2013-2014): The government initiated peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban in 2013. The talks collapsed in April 2014 when the Taliban refused to disarm and continued their attacks.
- Negotiations with Baloch militants: The government has held several rounds of negotiations with Baloch militants to address the grievances of the Baloch nationalists.
Pakistan Army’s efforts to root out terrorism in Pakistan have yielded significant results, including a reduction in the number of terrorism-related incidents and the elimination of many high-value targets. However, the fight against terrorism is an ongoing challenge, and the Pakistan Army continues to work closely with other security agencies and international partners to maintain the gains made so far and further strengthen the security situation in the country. While looking back at the accomplishments of Pakistan Army against Terrorism. Some major operations were:
- Operation Zarb-e-Azb (2014): It was a military operation launched in North Waziristan to eliminate militant groups such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Al-Qaeda, and their affiliates.
- Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad (2017): It was launched to eliminate the residual threat of terrorism in the country after the success of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. The operation targeted terrorist hideouts, their facilitators and financiers.
- Operation Khyber-4 (2017): It was launched in the Khyber Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to eliminate terrorist groups such as the TTP, Lashkar-e-Islam, and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.
- Operation Radul-Haq (2018): It was launched in Balochistan to target militant groups involved in attacks on security forces and civilians.
- Operation Swift Retort (2019): This operation was in response to the Indian Air Force’s incursion into Pakistani airspace. The Pakistan Air Force conducted airstrikes against Indian military targets.
- Operation Zarb-e-Azb II (2019): It was a continuation of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, targeting terrorist groups that reemerged in the country’s tribal areas.
- Operation Khyber-5 (2019): It was launched to consolidate the gains of previous operations in the Khyber Agency and prevent the reemergence of militant groups.
- Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad II (2021): It was launched to eliminate the residual threat of terrorism in the country and target sleeper cells of banned outfits.
Pakistan Army has been involved in a long and difficult fight against terrorism for many years, and the current development point to Pakistan coming out victorious. Pakistan Army has launched several operations against these groups to eliminate the terrorist threat and restore peace and stability in the country. The Pakistan Army’s efforts in combating terrorism have yielded significant successes, including:
- Elimination of high-value targets: The Pakistan Army has eliminated many high-value targets, including Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a raid in Abbottabad in 2011, TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone strike in 2013, and ISIS leader Hafiz Saeed in a security operation in 2020.
- Reduction in terrorism-related incidents: The number of terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan has decreased significantly in recent years due to the Pakistan Army’s operations against militant groups. According to the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, the number of terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan decreased from 2,061 in 2010 to 747 in 2019.
- Return of IDPs: The Pakistan Army’s operations have allowed millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to their homes in the conflict-affected areas, such as Swat, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan.
- Restoration of law and order: The Pakistan Army’s operations have helped restore law and order in many parts of the country. The operations have led to the arrest of thousands of militants and the recovery of huge caches of weapons and ammunition.
However, it is important to note that the fight against terrorism in Pakistan is far from over, and the country continues to face significant challenges from various militant groups. While the Pakistan Army’s efforts have yielded some successes, there is still a need for continued vigilance and sustained efforts to combat terrorism in the country.
The Balochistan region of Pakistan has been the site of a long-standing insurgency, with several militant groups fighting for greater autonomy or independence from Pakistan. The Pakistan Army has been actively involved in counter-insurgency operations in Balochistan for many years. While the insurgency is still ongoing, the Pakistan Army has achieved success in combating the Balochistan militant groups.
The army and intelligence agencies of Pakistan have applauded the arrest of BNA (Baloch National Army) leader as a significant operational accomplishment by the National Security Committee (NSC). Baloch militant commander Imam’s had been apprehended alive. In the past, military operations resulted in Baloch militant leaders and commanders dying in clashes with security agencies. There are not many cases when law enforcement agencies were able to successfully carry out an intelligence operation in multiple geographical locations or countries to detain a leader who is at the center of Baloch militant networks and attacks across the county.
BNA leader Imam’s arrest is also important as it will help Pakistan rebuild China’s trust in its ability to address its security concerns in Balochistan, particularly the protection of Chinese citizens working on projects in the province and beyond. Imam’s group was most active in the Makran division of the province, which is strategically important to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and includes the port city of Gwadar as well.
Some of the successes of the Pakistan Army in combating the Balochistan militant groups include:
- Elimination of high-profile militants: The Pakistan Army has eliminated several high-profile militants, including the founder of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Allah Nazar Baloch, in an operation in 2018, and the BLA’s top commander, Aslam Baloch, in a raid in 2015.
- Disruption of militant infrastructure: The Pakistan Army has disrupted the militant infrastructure in Balochistan, including dismantling militant training camps and safe havens, and seizing large caches of weapons and ammunition.
- Arrest of militants: The Pakistan Army has arrested many militants involved in terrorist activities, including key leaders and operatives of various militant groups.
- Restoration of law and order: The Pakistan Army’s operations have helped restore law and order in many parts of Balochistan, allowing people to go about their daily lives without fear of violence.
It is important to note that the insurgency in Balochistan is complex, with several different militant groups operating in the region. While the Pakistan Army’s efforts have yielded success, there is still a need for a comprehensive and sustained approach to address the underlying political, social, and economic grievances of the people of Balochistan.
Moreover, Pakistan Army has dealt with PTM’s (Pashtun Tahafuz Movement) demands by launching measures which have The government has accused the PTM of being involved in anti-state activities and has banned the group from holding public gatherings and protests.
- Dialogue: The Pakistani government has engaged in dialogue with the PTM leadership to address their concerns and grievances, a high-level delegation from the government held talks with PTM leaders, and their demands, such as the release of missing persons, were addressed.
- Crackdown: Law enforcement agencies and security forces have also cracked down on PTM protests and rallies in some cases.
- Legal Action: The Pakistani government has also taken legal action against some PTM leaders for allegedly making seditious speeches and inciting violence.
Pakistan’s army has made significant strides in countering terrorism over the years, with successful military operations. These operations have resulted in the elimination of many terrorist leaders, the dismantling of their networks, and a significant reduction in the number of terrorist attacks in the country. There have been notable successes, the fight against terrorism in Pakistan is an ongoing struggle that requires continued efforts and vigilance.
Asma Khan Durrani is an expert in Strategic Affairs. She is a student of Defense and Strategic Studies. She has done M.Phil. from SPIR Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. She has also been published internationally. She tweets @AsmaKhan_47