THE Swat operation which started on 16 May 2009 still remains in the mind of every patriot Pakistani. The area occupied by the terrorists was successfully cleared by Pakistan’s Armed Forces. In this regard, Swat peace accord was signed on 15 February 2009 between the government and the militants led by Sufi Muhammad, head of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It was agreed to establish Nizam-e-Adl in Malakand Division and Kohistan District of Hazara in return for Maulvi Fazlullah (Sufi’s son-in-law) led militants, surrendering arms and refraining from all sorts of violent acts. Meanwhile, National Assembly had passed the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation.
But, by transgressing the peace pack, Taliban re-initiated their previous practice of beheadings, kidnappings, attacks on the check posts of the security forces etc. In Swat, their anti-social, anti-Islam and inhuman tactics such as attacks on government buildings, girls’ schools, video shops and police stations, using car suicide bombers had also been destabilizing Pakistan. In Swat, Taliban leaders had created states within the state and also strengthened their position in Dir. They refused to renounce arms, and even entered Buner. Therefore, the Swat and Malakand military operations were conducted to restore peace in these affected areas and to get rid of the innocent people of the brutalities of the Taliban.
In this respect, on 16 May 2009, Pakistan’s Armed Forces started military operation in Swat. And, within less than three months, Pakistan’s forces successfully ejected the well-trained and well-armed Taliban militants out of Buner, Dir, Swat and other adjoining areas. By sacrificing their lives, our forces killed and captured thousands of the militants—breaking their back by eliminating their control and command structure. Tens of thousands of Taliban had fled Afghanistan. It is mentionable that during Swat Operation, TTP militants had been supported by some foreign secret agencies, especially Indian RAW. Through their well-established network in Afghanistan, they were sending arms and weapons to Swat-based terrorists to weaken Pakistan.
In fact, the different war between Pakistan’s Armed Forces and the TTP insurgents in Swat was simply a ‘clash of wills’ between two entities. Military thinkers agree that although the physical force will determine the type and scale of war, yet it is the ‘will to fight’ or ‘moral force’ that determines the outcome of war. Clausewitz puts it this way, “One might say that the physical force seems little more than the wooden hilt, while moral factors are the precious metal, the real weapon.” In his book, “Fighting Power: German and U.S. Army Performance, 1939-1945”, Creveld identifies the elements of ‘moral force’, whom he calls “fighting power, the willingness to fight and the readiness, if necessary, to die.” The greater these elements, the less vulnerable an armed force will be to demoralization. ‘Moral force’, then, is the crucial factor in determining the combat power of any belligerent.
During the successful military operation, retreat of the Taliban from Swat has proved that such elements like ‘will to fight’ and ‘moral force’ have been more noted in Pakistan’s Armed Forces who have exerted psychological impact of causing fear and shock, resulting into demoralization among the Taliban militants. Nevertheless, there are various causes which demoralized the insurgents of Swat. Firstly, high ‘moral force’ and ‘will to fight’ coupled with strong determination and cohesiveness as noted in Pakistan’s Armed Forces played a key role in expelling Taliban out of Swat. In this connection, airstrikes by Pakistan Air Force targeted their strongholds. And during street to street fighting, without bothering for their lives, and by air-dropping commandos at the risky places, our forces made a great headway in disrupting the Taliban supply routes. They besieged them at various hotspots, rendering them unable to send reinforcements to their fighters. Secondly, morale of Pak Army was very high. Thirdly, local people started denying the Taliban sanctuaries, and disrupted their links with each other. Fourthly, general masses of Swat opposed the brutal acts of these terrorists which compelled them to leave their houses. They came to know that under the cover of Islamic laws—terror, not Sharia was militants’ real agenda. Hence, they were misusing Jihad which does not allow suicide attacks in killing their own Muslim brethren.
Although terrorists have again started subversive activities, yet these are on a small-scale, as compared to the past, because the main networks of various militant outfits have been broken by the ongoing military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad. As a matter of fact, Pakistan’s Armed Forces have successfully broken the back and organized capability of terrorists to launch well thought-out attacks against the government assets. Terrorism will finally be totally eliminated from Pakistan. It appears, as if the militants have lost major grounds, and in severe frustration, they are trying to create some kind of so-called pressure on the government and the Armed Forces which have castigated them to put up strong resistance.
It is notable that when the heavy-armed Taliban entered Swat, Dir and Buner, on 23 April 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had stated that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. But, when Pakistan’s Armed Forces ejected the Taliban insurgents out of the affected areas, then American high officials including Ms Clinton had admired the capability of Pak Army. We can conclude that it was because the ‘moral force’ of Pakistan’s Armed Forces, which defeated the insurgents of Swat.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.