Lock and load

Pakistan shows resolve in the biggest counter-terrorism operation in its history

Lock and load
In the largest counter-terrorism operation in the history of Pakistan, law enforcement agencies have arrested 1,710 clerics for incitement to violence and 9,000 terrorist from banned groups and militant organizations, according to the federal Interior Ministry.

In Karachi, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a high-level meeting with the military chief on his National Action Plan. “I will personally supervise the implementation of the plan and will make sure that it is swift and effective,” he said. Peace in Karachi is high on the national agenda and an insider said the military leadership is annoyed with the performance of the People’s Party led Sindh government when it comes to law and order.

In Islamabad, the government has set up an informal intelligence coordination center. “All intelligence agencies and law enforcement representative are coordinating in real time. Its relatively a new thing but is working,” says Ahmed Rana, a senior intelligence official. The plan involves more than 10,000 intelligence officials and the military is keeping a close watch as it continues its campaigns in FATA. The prime minister has set up a committee led by himself and his interior minister, with representatives from all major political parties of Pakistan, to oversee the operation.
"We will kill them one at a time"

In southern Punjab, where the military seems to have won Punjabi Taliban’s confidence that had in return surrendered, sectarian organizations remain the biggest issue.

In a consolidated effort to track down terrorist financing and funding, FIA’s special anti-money laundering department has launched a major crackdown on illegal hawala transactions. “We are taking the lead in curbing financial terrorism and countering crime and terrorism by stopping their funding,” FIA inspector Nabeel Mahboob said.

In Kabul, Pakistan’s military chief Raheel Sharif and ISI director-general Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar met the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. “They have stressed a long-term working relationship,” according to a senior Afghan cabinet member who asked not to be named. “The NDS (Afghan intelligence agency) and the ISI have setup a joint working mechanism on matters of common concern.”

Recently, Quetta Corps Commander Lt Gen Nasir Janjua also visited Afghanistan where he discussed matters of border security and bilateral cooperation with his Afghan counterpart, the Kandahar Corps Commander Maj Gen Abdul Hamid. “The mindset of the military has changed,” a military source said about the visit. “We are taking the lead and it’s about time the civilian leaders help us in making Pakistan a peaceful country by eliminating all terrorist outfits and militant organizations.”

The military seems to have made up its mind to rid the tribal areas of the Taliban and other militant groups. “Using North Waziristan as a base, these terrorists had waged a war against the state of Pakistan and had been disrupting our national life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property,” military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa had said in June, when the Operation Zarb-e-Azb began. “Our valiant armed forces have been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and color, along with their sanctuaries.”

Critics of the military ask whether groups like the Haqqani Network and Jamaatud Dawa, as well as several sectarian organization, are also being targeted. “The military chief and the civilian government are on one page about banned organizations, the Haqqani group and even ex-mujahedin, but we will kill them one at a time. For starters, we have asked them to behave,” an intelligence source said.

In the eyes of the Finance Ministry, the biggest setback is that the United States that did not commit any funds. US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson was expected to announce $250 million for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) at a conference held at the Prime Minister’s House. An official in the ministry said that was among the reasons why that conference was organized. “We have an ideal working relationship with Pakistan on the war on terror, but we want to see visible action against the Haqqanis inside Pakistan too. I am sure they are trying that too,” a US military commander in Afghanistan said.