History of Pakistan proves beyond any doubt, that it is a unique country in many ways. Pakistan leaves many lessons for the rest of the world, like, survival against all odds, resilience, greater results with smaller means, fighting simultaneously on multiple fronts, betraying designs of multiple enemies, outperforming a world superpower in the War on Terror and winning this war in record time. It started from the creation of Pakistan which cannot be named anything short of a miracle. In 1930, germination of the idea of Pakistan in the mind of distantly located two Founding Fathers at the same time, its creation on the holiest day of the Muslim week – Friday, in the holiest month of the Islamic calendar – Ramadan and on the holiest night of Ramadan – night of 27th was not possible without divine support. Its survival against all odds, despite the almost immediate loss of Founding Fathers and umpteen disasters, is also a miracle in itself.
Pakistan is associated with two key words, Turbulence and Resilience. The history of Pakistan ever since its creation is replete with turbulence, wars, calamities, disasters, and to cap it all, with dismemberment. All along, there has been a nagging sense about the viability of the country. As Cristophe Jafferlot said, “prophecies of gloom and doom were periodically issued: in fact, they had been voiced even before Pakistan was created”. Pakistan has reached the age of 73, passing through all these tumultuous times. Every other day Pakistan was seen standing at the crossroads of its history. On every crossroad, while enemies of the country were exuberant and keen to see it drowning, the nation itself came off with confidence, self-assurance and maturity. Whereas, on one hand, the pessimists questioned the viability of the country, and on the other, the optimists felt impressed with its resilience.
Resilience of Pakistan can be best understood by recounting the challenges it withstood. It came into existence with horrible loss of life and property, and the migration of millions of dazed and destitute men, women, and children. It had no resources and had to build its administrative machinery from the scratch. Inequitable distribution of assets at the time of partition was another huge challenge. The challenge of managing two wings 1000 miles apart with an utterly hostile enemy in-between was preordained. This fragile, newly born state with utter scarcity of resources faced a war in the first year of its creation; waged by a much bigger and stronger country, India. Pakistan lost its Founding Father in the second year of its life and the first Prime Minister in the fifth year of its life.
Apart from intermittent calamities and disasters only eighteen years down the road, in 1965, the country was yet again attacked by India. The management of its distant eastern wing, which was naturally prone to floods and cyclones continued to be a nightmare. In the post-1965 period, the country was still reeling from a cascade of shocks when in 1971 (merely 24 years old and 6 years from its last war) the enemy struck again with the heinous design of dismemberment. The enemy did succeed due to what Robert D. Kaplan called, “Revenge of Geography” and the country had to withstand worst of disasters of its life. The dismemberment turned out to be a political, military, ideological and geographic setback – all in one. The difficulties did not end there; eight years after the dismemberment, the Bear entered the backyard. Pakistan faced an existential threat, which she aimed to ward off with the support of the U.S. Pakistan fought a ten-year war as a frontline state and played a key role in the U.S.’ victory in the Cold War. The calamitous entry of the Bear in the backyard had long-term ill effects for the country which it is facing to date.
In such a challenging environment, attainment of nuclear capability within forty years of its age was no mean feat. Nuclear capability itself was essential to ward off enemies of the state who were so keen and enthusiastic to undo partition of the subcontinent. Victory against the erstwhile Soviet Union in Afghanistan was succeeded by chaos in Afghanistan and instability in Pakistan. Seeds for 9/11 were sown right then and there once the U.S. decided to abandon the region in a mess. Pakistan was left alone to sort out this mess with her inadequate resources. While nuclear capability kept the arch enemy at bay, chaos in the backyard led to a new form of war.
The 9/11 attacks on U.S. soil led the second superpower (the sole superpower by now) to the backyard of Pakistan. Pakistan was made to choose either to support the Taliban or the U.S. Pakistan once again assumed the role of a frontline state and fought a 15-year long War on Terror. This is the war which has been covered in detail in my book, “Fighting Shadows (Post-War on Terror: Pakistan)”. This was indeed the longest and the bloodiest war Pakistan has fought. Pakistan’s successes and sacrifices in this war have been unparalleled, unprecedented and unmatchable. The average time world over to win such kind of a war has been 22 years. Sri Lanka while being an island nation took 27 years. The U.S. is still struggling in Afghanistan in spite of all its might and abundance of resources. Whereas Pakistan being a continental state with perennial enemy on the East and porous border on the West has done it in one and a half decades in the prevalence of numerous odds.
In a nutshell, it can be concluded that for half of her life, Pakistan has fought wars, either its own or someone else’s. In the remaining half, there were political turmoils, havocking floods, devastating earthquakes and what not. In the midst of these tumultuous times, Pakistan has not only survived, but also maintained its integrity and made its defence impregnable through the attainment of nuclear capability. Pakistan proved all of its critics and enemies wrong. Thus, I would say, Pakistan thy name is RESILIENCE.
In this article, I shall delve into the War on Terror, which has been the most daunting and bloodiest with a view to eulogizing sacrifices and laurels of Pakistan and its armed forces. For greater insight, the book, “Fighting Shadows (Post-War on Terror: Pakistan)” is recommended for avid readers which has been foreworded by the COAS, “For over fifteen years, Pakistan is fighting a definitive struggle against terrorism and has turned out to be the only State that has not only thwarted militancy, but in the process has come out stronger. Thousands died and many more were injured but nothing deterred this most resilient nation and its institutions. “Fighting Shadows” chronicles those years of blood-stained memories and seemingly implausible dreams of peace and stability that have only now begun to turn into reality. It is one man’s account but reflective of many collective experiences. I congratulate Maj Gen Muhammad Samrez Salik, HI (M) for stringing the fragments together in a coherent pattern that tells the story the way it was not told before. There is much to reflect, learn and analyze here. A must read for young officers.”
Repeated visitation of superpowers sowed the seeds of chaos and instability in the region. Seeds of the War on Terror were sown during U.S.’ war against Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre was the last of the eighteen events that altered the path of human civilization ever since 1899. This was an act of aggression against the sole superpower of the world. Its prestige and ego were badly mauled. Simon Jenkins says, “No single figure since the Second World War has made so profound an impact on world events as Osama Bin Laden”. 9/11 changed America fundamentally, it was the new “Pearl Harbour” for them and it gave birth to an unprecedented coalition of revulsion. With a gap of around thirty-eight years, it happened again with Pakistan; for the second time, a superpower entered her backyard. This time around, it came with a greater might, ferocity and vengeance. Egoistically, the terribly mauled superpower, which was on a hunt for the perpetrators of 9/11, was also highly keen to display her might to her enemies. Pakistan was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
With the onset of Global War on Terror, Pakistan was faced with a unique threat matrix unparalleled in the world. Ever since her creation, Pakistan faced existential threat from the East. The arch enemy India, always endeavored to create a perpetual hostile front. Coupled with that, stability on the Western front also remained a prolonged nightmare. Afghanistan, in a state of perpetual disturbance, generated ill effects in the neighbouring regions of Pakistan. Stepping in of the Bear in Afghanistan further exacerbated the threat from the West. However, timely intervention of the U.S. and unflinching resolve of Pakistani nation assured warding off this existential threat to Pakistan.
In the case of War on Terror, Pakistan was faced with an altogether different scenario. Enemy on the East had become extremely hostile. Global aversion to even the legitimate freedom struggle in Kashmir had enhanced liberty of action and space for India. The U.S. operations in Afghanistan had created hostility to the West too. The U.S., though visibly allied to Pakistan, was seemingly playing the tricky game. Fighting TTA while ignoring TTP remains a question mark. On the whole, India got a free hand to vitiate the inner front of Pakistan. It has been historically proven that, for any Army, a fight with its own people is the most challenging war. Here was a country faced with threat from East, West and inner front. External enemies were leaving no stone unturned in exacerbating the inner front. The enemy in the East was hell bent-upon compounding the situation.
With freedom movement in Kashmir on the back burner, an age-old ally (Northern Alliance) sitting in Kabul and Pakistan faced with vitiated inner front, it was indeed a heyday for India. As Northern Alliance moved to Kabul, so did India to Afghanistan. India did not lose any moment of this opportunity. The geostrategic environment of the region provided India with the golden opportunity to bleed Pakistan. New alliances were drawn and India moved closer to the U.S. The containment of China put the U.S. on the path to India. Not only the immediate neighborhood, even global realpolitik improved the leverages available to India. While keeping her gaze on China, India focused on Pakistan.
9/11 and the War on Terror
The event of 9/11 gave birth to the Global War on Terror (GWOT). Nine days after the attacks, Bush publicly declared a War on Terror and the U.S. launched Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan against Al-Qaeda and its supporters.
In the post 9/11 scenario Pakistan was faced with a predicament. The Government of Pakistan tried to persuade the Taliban to evict and hand over Al-Qaeda leadership to the U.S. On their refusal, President/Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Pervez Musharraf, decided to join the GWOT and became an ally of the U.S./NATO, starting military operations in FATA in 2001 (officially known as Operation Al-Mizan).
Exactly two months and two days after 9/11, on December 13, 2001, there was a terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. India lost no time in putting the blame on Pakistan. On January 12, 2002, a counter-terrorism commitment given by General Musharraf warded off the immediate danger of war. India also considered executing the “Cold Start Doctrine” which had taken its birth from lessons of Operation Parakram (i.e., Mobilization of 2001). Under Indian coercion and global concerns, Pakistan was compelled to crack down on and ban some so-called ‘jihadi’ organizations. A few were also declared as terrorist organizations. Resultantly these organizations picked up arms against Pakistan. There came up a nexus between Taliban and banned organizations.
Tora Bora (a mountain range along Pak-Afghan Border inside Afghanistan) had been like a home to most of the Arab fighters and their associates since the days of their war against the Soviet Union. As a result of botched U.S. operations to kill or capture Al-Qaeda and Taliban elements in Tora Bora mountains in 2001, terrorists crossed over to Pakistan and found sanctuary in FATA. Pakistan was compelled to move forces to the Western borders to prevent the inflow of these unwanted elements. In broad terms, there were four groups of militants or terrorists i.e., Arab, Central Asian, Afghan Taliban and a local cadre from Pakistan.
December 2001-December 2003
Initially a synchronized operation was conducted by coalition forces and Pakistan Army, aimed at sealing off Pak-Afghan border along Tora Bora range. Pakistan Army also searched for the possible hideouts/villages and madrassas in Orakzai, Khyber and Kurram agencies. In Waziristan Agency, Operation Al-Mizan began in May 2002, with the aim to open up the inaccessible areas and establish government’s writ. In June 2003, troops were moved into Mohmand Agency to clear no-go areas, establish writ of the government and check ingress of Afghan National Army (ANA).
January 2004-December 2006
In January 2004, the army decided to launch an operation against Uzbeks hiding in Kalosha area (South Waziristan Agency), and as a result many prisoners were apprehended including locals, which drew locals closer to the terrorists and army troops came under their repeated coordinated attacks. Due to deteriorating situation, the Governor handed over the situation to Army and requested for re-establishment of the writ of the government.
To give peace a chance, on April 24, 2004 an agreement between Army and a group of militants including Nek Muhammad, Yargul Khel, Maulvi Sharif and Baitullah Mehsud was reached and announced at Shakkai. The negotiations broke down on May 8, 2004. Qaumi Lashkars were raised to flush out Al-Qaeda elements and foreigners from SWA.
Governor NWFP (now KP), Lieutenant General Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah (R) visited Wana on May 28, 2004 and announced punitive action through imposition of Frontier Crimes Regulation 21 (FCR) with effect from May 29, 2004. The Wana Bazaar was shut down and business in and out of the Agency was banned.
Nek Muhammad was killed in a drone attack in SWA on June 18, 2004 which weakened the terrorists command structure. Further operations were conducted in Wazir area which resulted in signing of Shakkai-2 Agreement on July 5, 2004 and an agreement with Ahmadzai Wazir Tribe on November 12, 2004. It is important to mention here that despite U.S. pressure, Pakistan government tried its best to avoid launching of operations in tribal areas. All efforts were made to establish writ of the government through peaceful means and avoid making these areas a battleground. However, terrorists continued their activities and Pakistan Army was left with no choice but to launch a new military operation.
In early September 2004, operations were launched in which the areas of Mehsud triangle (Ladha, Makeen, Jandola of SWA) were cleared. Baitullah Mehsud and a 21-member committee organized by Mehsud Tribe signed Sararogha Agreement with Political Administration in February 2005. Baitullah and his accomplices agreed that they would neither shelter nor help the terrorists in their areas. However, Baitullah reneged on the agreement.
In September 2004, a Division size force was deployed in NWA. On September 5, 2006, NWA Peace Agreement was concluded between Political Agent of NWA and tribal leaders of Utmanzai Tribe and local Taliban to help in establishing writ of the government. This effort also failed later. Today those who blame Pakistan Army for conducting military operation in FATA must not forget the history and must know that all efforts were made to avoid violence and establish writ of the government through peaceful means.
January 2007-July 2008
The year of 2007 saw an unprecedented surge in terrorist activities and could be termed as the year of major reverses for LEAs. Exploiting this momentum, a shura of 40 senior local Taliban leaders representing 13 different groups established Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as an umbrella organization to pursue a coordinated joint strategy. Baitullah Mehsud was nominated as first Amir of TTP.
Activities of TTP kept growing and even killing of Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007 was allegedly traced back to terrorists of TTP. In order to hunt terrorists mainly in Mehsud area of SWA, a three-prong corps level offensive (Operation Tri Star-I) was launched in January 2008.
Events of Lal Masjid aggravated anti-government sentiments in Malakand Division. Mullah Fazlullah, who was already promoting and preaching extremism and thriving on anti-U.S. sentiments now openly called for ‘Jihad’ against government and security forces.Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) announced its private security force ‘Shaheen Commando Force’ to manage law and order in Swat. On June 16, 2007, army decided to deploy a Division size force to control the situation. By February 9, 2008, 95% of Shangla/Swat less Piochar Valley was secured. Resultantly, newly elected ANP Government started negotiations with terrorists for a peace deal and Peace Agreement was signed between government and Mullah Fazlullah on May 22, 2008 which concluded Phase-1 of Operation Rah-e-Haq.
On another front, terrorist activities in Dara Adam Khel (DAK) were not checked at the initial stage being insignificant vis-à-vis operational commitments in other important sectors. Security forces were given go ahead with Operation Eagle Swoop at first light on January 25, 2008 to establish writ of the government which was was successfully completed on January 29, 2008.
Mangal Bagh (MB) group appeared in Bara and Tirah areas of Khyber Agency in 2006 and started its activities to gain stronghold in the area. Operation Sirat-e-Mustaqeem was conducted on June 24, 2008 by Frontier Corps KP and all the militant centres in Bara Sub Division were demolished.
In Kurram Agency, sectarian clashes erupted in 2007. Terrorists also migrated frequently from NWA to Kurram and Orakzai Agencies. Consequently, Operation Kurram Gate was planned and executed in Kurram Agency in January 2008. On the political front, the government brokered an accord between Sunnis and Shias at Murree which was signed between 17-member committee of both the sects.
Large-Scale Operations (August 8-December 9)
In the midst of these challenging times, command of Pakistan Army was transferred to General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in November 2007.
Bajaur was conduit area for shifting of terrorists from Waziristan region to Swat, therefore, Operation code-named ‘Sherdil’ was launched on August 27, 2008 and army units were placed under the command of Frontier Corps NWFP (now KP).
On May 22, 2008, Provincial Government of Awami National Party (ANP) signed a Peace Agreement in Swat with Taliban. However, various events, one after the other were enough for the government to denounce the Peace Agreement, and Phase-2 of Operation Rah-e-Haq was started with a renewed vigour and high resolve.
On November 26, 2008, there were series of attacks in Mumbai. Once again, in a pre-meditated response, India blamed it on Pakistan.
One more time, to find a political solution to the deteriorating situation in Swat, Peace Agreement was announced by the government on February 15, 2009 which was followed by peace rallies all over the Valley. The government made sincere efforts to get the peace agreement, reached with TNSM, implemented and even got the “Nizam-e-Adl” Ordinance signed by the President on April 13, 2009. However, terrorists stepped up their activities in April 2009. In spite of government and security forces abiding by the terms and conditions of the peace agreement, terrorists carried out more than 200 violations (reported in the media too). Consequently, terrorists also established a hold in Buner. However, it was still expected that during the rally held in Grassy Ground on April 19, 2009, Sufi Muhammad would announce peace and surrendering of arms by the Taliban. Contrary to common expectations, in his public address, Maulana Sufi Muhammad declared the Constitution, Parliament and judicial system of the country un-Islamic. It was an open challenge to Pakistan, its Constitution and its system of governance.
Decision to re-launch military operations in Swat was taken. Prior to a rollercoaster operation by army, the local populace was moved out of Valley to Mardan District. Operation was renamed from Rah-e-Haq to Rah-e-Rast by COAS on April 28, 2009, which commenced in May 2009. In just over four months, the terrorists were on the run and security forces were in control of the entire Swat Valley. In record time operations were concluded and IDPs returned to their homes.
Despite success of Operation Eagle Swoop-I in Darra Adam Khel (DAK) area, sporadic trouble continued which necessitated further operations. Operation Eagle Swoop-II was conducted from September 23 to October 13, 2008 in three phases in the backdrop of resurgence of militancy. As a result, terrorists were effectively evicted from the area by October 1 (Eid-ul-Fitr) and Kohat Tunnel was re-opened for general public.
After suffering reversals in other areas, terrorists shifted their focus of activities towards Khyber and Peshawar. Thus LEAs led by Frontier Corps KP planned an Operation Daraalam, a Pushto word meaning ‘I am coming to your rescue’, in general area Ali Masjid, Jamrud, Tedi Bazaar, Wazir Dhand, Shakas and suburbs of Khyber. As a result of the operation in December 2008, all disturbed areas were cleared and the security of Peshawar was enhanced.
Baitullah Mehsud refused to accept writ of the State in SWA and enhanced his collaboration with terrorists of SWA, NWA, Dir and Swat. As a prelude to Operation Rah-e-Nijat, preliminary operations started on May 20, 2009. Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack on August 5, 2009. Amid leadership crisis, Hakeemullah Mehsud was nominated as the leader of TTP by the terrorists. Decision to launch military operations in SWA was taken on October 16, 2009. Operation Rah-e-Nijat culminated in successfull uprooting of the TTP stronghold in SWA with remnants of terrorists on the run for which mopping up and pursuit operations were conducted.
By the time Operation Rah-e-Nijat in SWA was near its culmination, bulk of terrorists from SWA had moved to Shawal Valley. Operation Mountain Top was launched from November 16-24, 2009 to capture Pash Ziarat and surrounding heights/areas.
During and after Operation Rah-e-Nijat, most of terrorists shifted to Kurram, Orakzai, Khyber and Mohmand agencies. For this, Operation Khwakh Bade Sham (a Pashto expression roughly meaning “I will teach you a lesson” or “I will fix you”) was started. In addition to Operation Khwakh Bade Sham, various other operations were conducted in South Waziristan, Kurram and Mohmand Agencies from 2010 to April 2012.
Terrorists were using Central Kurram as their alternate base and conduit for linkage with NWA and Tirah Valley to carryout terrorist activities in contiguous settled areas. Operation Koh-e-Sufaid was launched on July 3, 2011 to flush out terrorists from Central Kurram and enhance security of Parachinar-Thall Road.
Orakzai Agency was of great strategic importance to both the army and the TTP. Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of TTP, shifted back to his old stronghold of Orakzai along with much of the leadership and manpower after the group’s expulsion from SWA. In Orakzai Agency, another phase of joint Operation Khwakh Bade Sham under the command of IGFC began on March 23, 2010.
Terrorists also escaped to Mohmand Agency and collaborated their activities with local terrorists of the Agency. They enjoyed maximum influence along the border regions of Mohmand and Bajaur – Afghanistan and in between Bajaur and Mohmand. Therefore, Brekhna series of the operation was launched in Mohmand Agency from January to September 2011.
Approximately 59,000 Temporary Displaced Persons (TDPs) were registered and their return also commenced in respective areas i.e., Jandola, Chagmalai, Shahoor, Nazar Khel, Kotkai, Sararogha and Sagar Langar Jall. However, still no-go areas existed and TDPs could not return to some areas of SWA.
The incident of terrorists’ jailbreak from Bannu Jail in April 2012 took place where all the attackers not only came from NWA but also retreated back to it after completion of their mission. Intelligence reports also indicated a strong presence of terrorists and their leadership in NWA, posing a serious challenge to the military and government alike.
Valleys of Mamuzai and Debouri presented a triangle of terrorists’ stronghold bordering Kurram, Orakzai and Khyber Agencies. To uproot terrorists from the area, a deliberate Operation Azmari Gharo was launched from March-October 2012.
In SWA, a series of clearance and sanitization operations with the name of Eagle Hunt was launched in July 2012 which continued till the end of the year.
Operation Barwand was launched in SWA from October 2012 to November 2013 to clear Barwand bowl from terrorists’ presence and denying them safe haven.
In order to seal the infiltration routes into Upper Dir from Kunar (Afghanistan), Operation Takmeel-e-Azm was undertaken in general area Shahikot of District Dir in November 2013 and completed by April 2014.
At the end of November 2013, command of Pakistan Army was assumed by General Raheel Sharif.
In May 2014, on reports of presence of terrorists in the area Ilam Mountains, Malakand Division, Operation Koh Shikan was launched which was completed within 15 days.
In SWA, Operation Al-Barq was undertaken to clear the difficult and treacherous areas of Bobarghar, Sammal Narai, Warrana and Ziarat in SWA during April and May 2014.
The success achieved in Swat and SWA necessitated a closed focus on the NWA. Operation Zarb-e-Azb was conducted sequentially from core to periphery areas from June 2014 to November 2015.
Khyber Agency serves as the gateway to and from settled areas, also providing launchpad for terrorists and criminal activities inside the country. To clear the area, Operation Khyber I and II were conducted between October 2014 and May 2015.
On December 16, 2014, six gunmen affiliated with TTP conducted a terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar. The militants entered the school and opened fire on school staff and children, killing 149 people including 132 schoolchildren, ranging between eight and eighteen years of age making it the world's fourth deadliest school massacre.
With progress of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in NWA and elsewhere, maximum terrorists retreated to Shawal Valley. Hence the Valley was considered as the last bastion of terrorists. Therefore, Shawal Operation (Shallow Cut) was conducted as a sequel to Operation Pre Garh.
Consequent to successful operations in NWA and Shawal Valley, terrorists were forced to try and re-assert influence in the geographically conducive terrain of SWA. Hence, Operations Barwand Finale, Kundi Garh Sar and Girni Sar were undertaken in SWA and NWA between September 2015 and January 2016.
As a corollary to Operation Zarb-e-Azb and its success, Operation Bora Khel was conducted in January 2016 to prevent terrorists from strengthening themselves in areas where terrorist groups were relocating.
After the dismantling of strong command infrastructure and logistic bases of terrorists in NWA (core areas only) the terrorists re-organized in periphery areas, especially due to continued logistic support from Afghanistan. Operation High Tide was conducted between February-March 2016 and forces successfully denied terrorists an important sanctuary and logistic base which connected it to Shawal Valley.
Operation Faseel-e-Aahan II was launched in Bajaur Agency by Frontier Corps KP to occupy Sapparai Top and Gardao Top with the aim to deny terrorists easy access to Salarzai and Mamund Valley in March 2016.
In the end of November 2016, command of Pakistan Army was assumed by General Qamar Javed Bajwa. In February 2017, nationwide counterterrorism operation Radd-ul-Fasaad was launched by Pakistan Army in support of law enforcement agencies to eliminate the terrorists across Pakistan.
Armed Forces of Pakistan dismantled terrorist networks including TTP, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Haqqani Network, Daesh known as Islamic State and the Khurasan chapter of Al-Qaeda. One after the other organizations fell prey to the might of Pakistani forces backed by their courageous nation. The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) also acknowledged that Pakistan was the only country among ten most impacted countries which saw a decline in incidents of terrorism. Once the area was considered hotbed of local and foreign militants, covering 4,504 sq km but now the total area is under the control of civil government and armed forces. In the blood soaking operations, around 3,400 terrorists of all hues and colors were killed. But Pakistan also suffered the heaviest losses and paid the highest price for collective security of the world. Financially Pakistan suffered loss of USD 118 billion during the WOT. There have been approximately 80,000 fatalities in Pakistan during the WOT from 2001 till 2017.
Winning Hearts and Minds Campaign (WHAM)
Pakistan Army did not stop at clearance of areas. Post operations, wining of hearts and minds was an important consideration. While federal as well as provincial governments funded many of the projects, friendly countries also provided financial resources. Multidimensional projects worth USD 1.088 billion are focusing on communication infrastructure, education, health, power and irrigation sectors. Since 2014, amongst planned projects, 156 projects worth USD 739 million have already been completed.
18 major roads (1,205 km, including numerous bridges), 2 mega bridges (776.15 meters) and one tunnel (751 meters) have been constructed by FWO in erstwhile FATA under different projects funded by various donors and friendly countries.
Since 2009, 1,013 health units have been established in erstwhile FATA and Malakand Division. Progressing in dispensing health facilities, 5,384 jobs were created which are directly benefitting 6.4 million people. As a result of these initiatives, bed capacity has increased by 13% in erstwhile FATA and 4% in Malakand Division, adding 680 more beds. Apart from the hospitals, different training institutes for the medical staff were also established. Pakistan Army also organized special anti-polio campaigns at the national level. Due to the efforts of Pakistan Army in ensuring uninterrupted anti-polio campaign in these areas as well as all across the country even in most challenging circumstances, the ratio of polio cases dropped from 306 in year 2014 to 8 in the year 2017.
After the operations, student enrollment increased by 300 percent, whereas jobs for 16,140 staff were advertised and recruited for Cadet College Wana, Warsak, Girls Degree College Laddha, Government College of Technology in Khar (Bajaur Agency), IT Lab of Government High School in Mohmand Agency, and, finally, GGMS in Bajaur Agency. Since 2009, Pakistan Army with the help of Government of Pakistan has successfully established 5516 units of educational institutions in erstwhile FATA. The establishment of 7 cadet colleges is also a monumental achievement. In order to ensure skill development, Government Technical Institutes (GTI) were established in Bajaur, Mohmand, Kurram, NWA, Orakzai, Chitral, SWA, Kohat and Tank.
Training of the youth is essential to enable them to gain skills for seeking jobs. On October 6, 2014, Pakistan Army announced a youth program for erstwhile FATA. As a part of this package, various youth career fares were also arranged and they are still being conducted in order to motivate the youth to participate in job openings. Youth were also supported to participate in six-month internship programs. In addition to that, FATA youth scholarship program in APS&Cs was conducted for 456 students at a cost of Rs. 27.36 million. Pakistan Army also started youth enrollment program in which 2637 students were enrolled. Amongst these 1177 joined training centers. Around 209 were pledged work visas which was availed by 50 students. Furthermore, 50 students of FATA have been sent abroad for better future, 1,188 FATA youth have been recruited in army and 50 individuals from erstwhile FATA were imparted in CTTI (FWO) and provided prospects for securing better skilled jobs.
Water supply schemes are providing clean drinking water to almost 80 villages/towns with a population of over one million. With the cost of USD 13.3 million, the irrigation system is now fully rehabilitated. In this sector until now 736 schemes have been successfully initiated and 5,384 jobs were created from these schemes which benefited 1.3 million people.
As far as the power sector is concerned, Dargai Pal Dam, WSS Saeed Nawaz Kot, upgradation of Wana Grid Station from 66 to 132 KV, and 132 KV transmission line from Gomal to Wana are the hallmarks of these projects. In addition, the completion of Gomal Zam Dam is a big step for the peace and prosperity of South Waziristan. With its huge reservoir of 1.14 MAF water and a completely lined canal network of 260 km, the dam will irrigate 1,63,086 acres land of Tank and D.I. Khan Districts. The electricity generated from flowing water will be sufficient for 2,500 households of South Waziristan. Gomal Zam Dam is located in an area that was once the epicenter of terrorism. The successful completion of Gomal Zam Dam prompted the government to take up the Kundiwam Dam project in South Waziristan Agency which will generate 83.4 MW hydel power, store 1.2 MAF water and irrigate an area of 3,62,380 acres. Feasibility studies are complete and the dam is poised to bring opportunities of improved livelihood.
De-radicalization was one of the major pillars of WHAM campaign. The idea was to provide them with a second chance by restoring their self-worth and making sure they do not return to terrorism. The Swat de-radicalization programme comprises Sabaoon for kids between 12-18 years), Rastoon (for youth between 19-25 years) and Mishal centres (for militants’ families to create awareness to look after the rehabilitated individuals). So far, 4,151 individuals have been de-radicalized, 599 individuals are undergoing de-radicalization and will join the society soon.
During Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a total of 337,336 families were displaced from the affected areas, out of which major population was from North Waziristan Agency (approximately 1,05,676). During this crisis, Pakistan Army established a TDP Camp (8 sq km area) at Bakka Khel near Bannu in 2014. By now 95% of TDPs have returned to their homes while the settlement of rest of the TDPs is in progress. It is worth mentioning that Rs. 6,997.44 million have been delivered to TDPs under Citizen Losses Compensation Programme.
The government established a special directorate to organize sports activities. A cricket stadium by the name of test cricketer Younus Khan has been inaugurated in Miranshah in North Waziristan Agency to ‘restore peace’ in the society. Up until now 17 new stadiums have been built to benefit 15% youth bulge.
As far as business is concerned, to revive the economic activities, Pakistan Army provided an excellent opportunity to the people of erstwhile FATA in the form of Miranshah Market Complex. The complex contains 42 market modules having more than 1300 shops, internal road network for passage of traffic, separate parking areas for trucks and cars, dedicated electric supply, four lavatory blocks, water supply scheme, and last but not the least, a lush green children’s park in the middle. The other major projects are pine nut processing plant and Makeen main bazaar. Data related to these projects uptill 2019. Various new projects and work on old projects is ongoing.
In any conventional war, an army destroys everything in its way because reconstruction is the job of the enemy. The Russians’ famous “scorched earth policy” has been a yardstick. Contrarily, waging a war against own disoriented and misguided people has been the most detested option for any army. Secondly, whatever infrastructure is destroyed in the process ought to be reconstructed by ourselves. In order to win hearts and minds of the affected people, a colossal effort went in with the support of some friendly countries. Hospitals, roads, bridges, cities, deradicalization centres, dams, sports grounds etc. were constructed. Pictorial view in the book Fighting Shadows (Post-War on Terror Pakistan) provides a good perspective. Over USD 2 billion have been spent to rebuild (better than before) infrastructure destroyed in the War on Terror.
By surmounting the most daunting and menacing challenge of War on Terror, the nation once again proved its resilience. Innumerable mortals of young shuhada were received by mothers of nation with a resolve to present their other sons too for the motherland. Through recounting successes and laurels won by the nation with support of its armed forces, Fighting Shadows validates the resilience of Pakistan. Resilience of Pakistan is otherwise well-known and recognized the world over. Anatol Lieven’s book “Pakistan: A Hard Country” and Christophe Jaffrelot’s book “The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience” are a couple of works besides many to authenticate this aspect.
Note: The term ‘Resilience: Thy Name is Pakistan’ is taken from my book, “Fighting Shadows (Post-War on Terror: Pakistan)”.
The writer has 34 years of military service with good exposure to War on Terror. He has authored a book on the same titled, Fighting Shadows (Post-War on Terror : Pakistan).
E-mail: [email protected]
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