Pakistan military is showing huge resolve and making some progress in its offensive against the Taliban. It moved a step further against the terrorists in the northwestern part of the country on Monday, beginning what army commanders say will be a house-to-house search for terrorist leaders and other militants. The militants are certainly on the run, though Taliban is not an outfit that can be easily defeated. But if the government and the military are able to continue with the current pace of their offensive and show the same determination, there is no doubt that this dangerous terrorist organisation can be crippled.
The government of Nawaz Sharif deserves applause for the military campaign, though he has been forced into it after some daring attacks by the militants after they walked out of the peace talks with the government. Taliban is an international threat and a blemish on the image of Islam worldwide due to the imposition of their own brand of the religion. In that sense, this anti-Taliban campaign is in the global interest.
The latest offensive began after two weeks of airstrikes in North Waziristan, which has been a key sanctuary for the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups such as the Haqqani network. The army was able to penetrate the network of the terrorists. The soldiers have found out underground tunnels and factories for storing and making explosives in the early stages of the ground assault.
The military needs to continue its offensive against all odds, and the international community needs to support Pakistan in this struggle. If the military campaign is stopped without achieving its objective, the Taliban can regroup and seek revenge for all the losses it has suffered so far. This needs to be a permanent battle. Clearly, the military has an edge in this, and all it needs is some determination and political resolve from the government.
At the same time, the military campaign has created a humanitarian crisis that needs to be addressed immediately. The scale of the exodus from the war zone has alarmed humanitarian groups, and there are doubts whether Pakistan has enough resources to properly care for displaced residents.
Also, this campaign would have produced better results had there been coordination between Afghan and Pakistani governments. Unfortunately, both governments don’t share a very friendly relationship. When Nawaz Sharif launched the offensive two weeks ago, he personally appealed to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to bolster security on the border in case militants tried to escape Waziristan into Afghanistan. Karzai must realise that Pakistan is also fighting his battle because Taliban is a common enemy. A defeat for the terrorist outfit in Pakistan will considerably weaken their operations in Afghanistan.