The War on Terror had had a major impact on Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. A broad-based counterterrorism policy, taking the issue holistically, came into being in 2014. The attack on the Army Public School that killed more than 145 children and adults proved to be a turning point for Pakistan’s counterterrorism policy. Zarb-i-Azb was thus launched on June 15, 2014, which has remained a very successful operation so far.
Pakistan has remained a target of different terrorist organizations for years. Different militant groups emerged during the US-led war in Afghanistan. Pakistan being the ally of the US in WOT had to face serious challenges both from inside and outside of the country. Waziristan and KPK for its proximity with the Afghan border had to face several attacks from different militant groups, mostly from across the border.
Under such circumstances the Pakistan Army launched operation Zarb-i-Azb and with an active support of the entire nation achieved unparalleled successes in the war against terrorism. The government and the military leadership took a number of difficult steps during the last few years. Pakistan is the only country that has rendered more sacrifices than any other country in this costly and protracted war.
Extremist ideologies were countered through launching of ulema, intellectuals, psychologists, psychiatrists, TV programmes, workshops, seminars and by bringing in necessary changes in the curriculum. A moratorium on the death sentence put during the Zardari regime was lifted. The government hanged a number of terrorists and extremists, including the killer of Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer. Special Army Courts were also set up, which also hanged a large number of terrorists and where the cases are still under trial.
The government of Nawaz Sharif right at the outset launched development projects of metro bus service, orange line train service, green bus service, roads network, bridges, hospitals, and other infrastructure programmes. Despite opposition’s dharnas and agitations, the government succeeded in securing a historic mega project called CPEC with the Chinese government and the Pakistan Army as well the Pakistan Navy took direct responsibility of providing security for this project. A two divisions of armed force was raised and trained, deployed along the Corridor lines, which resulted in the passing of first 250-truckloads of convoy from China to Gwadar onwards.
Due to successes and gains in the Zarb-i-Azb operation, the world not only acknowledged Pakistan but world leaders also started visiting Pakistan for extending and getting help in the expertise as to how to quell terrorism in their respective countries. Despite unprovoked firing on the Line of Control, instigative statements by the Indian leadership, the government and armed forces handled both external and internal threats. The Indian drama of surgical strikes was also exposed and the world recognised this fact that India has no capacity to launch such strikes.
These positive steps will help make the entire region stable and prosperous and it is all due to the tireless efforts and sacrifices of Pakistan in the war against terror. Operation Zarb-i-Azb has achieved its military and security objectives and that is how it will be remembered. The new Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa with his profile and vigor will follow his predecessor’s footsteps and will complete the task Gen Raheel Sharif started.
— The writer are freelance columnists based in Islamabad.