Waziristan: the option not taken

Waziristan: the option not taken

The News, February 01, 2010
Ayaz Wazir

Our media was taking great interest in the operation in South Waziristan before its launch on Oct 17. It was termed the “mother of all operations” by some. But when the facts emerged it dawned on everyone that it was just not that. The media was denied the opportunity of giving full and impartial coverage. Only journalists approved by the authorities could enter the area to cover the operation. The media was thus forced to apply the brakes in covering the territory, which pushed the operation to the public blind spot, where it remains now.

Almost all our armchair experts on FATA presented a rosy picture of the situation, saying that the operation would eliminate the militancy in Waziristan. Their argument may have been convincing for those not having visited the area, and those not being familiar with the terrain and the people of Waziristan. But it just does not cut any ice with those are familiar with the area and with people who were born and bred there.

Firstly, their conclusions were based solely on the fallacious reasoning that the militants, following classic battle tactics, would stand their ground and fight head-on in the open, and be overwhelmed by a superior force. They did not take into account the likelihood of the militants’ following hit-and-run guerrilla tactics, melting into the familiar terrain after a strike, and then trying to win over the relatives of the civilian casualties of this war. We forgot that the operation was not launched against the entire population of Waziristan, after all, but a limited number of militants.

Secondly, the best bulwark against militants and terrorism is the economic and social uplift of the area concerned and the weal of its inhabitants. Sadly, provision of health or education facilities or opportunities for employment has never figured on the list of any government. Sadder still, there is no indication that any lessons have been learned. It is unknown whether in the future too these issues will be accorded any priority.

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