By Hamid Waheed
The battle of hearts and minds against terrorists is more of a relay race between the teams in which single players can contribute but cannot bring victory for the team. The end game revolves around shaping the environment and society favorable to the teams. The team of terrorists uses coercive cards to shape their game. They terrorize the society to control economy and make generations’ hostage to their ideology. The second team of government uses Law Enforcing Agency (LEA) for establishing it’s writ of the state and provide the space to society, where they can exercise their will and independence to earn their livelihood. The government provides opportunities and political will for a comfortable environment and makes efforts for a sustainable economy for future generations.
Unlike many insurgencies Pakistan has been lucky to have a player which has covered the most difficult part in a very short time to support government’s strategy of dialogue, development and deterrence. The success of LEA in general and Pak Army in particular under farsighted leadership of General Kayani has delivered in shape of Swat/ Malakand success stories. The success of Swat operation and settlement of displaced people of Swat became role model for the society and the environment was shaped in favour of government and the army. The military pressure dislodged the (terror) groups from some of their training areas and kept them on the run. The violence fell by 60 per cent in the second half of 2009, compared with the first half. At the same time, the neutralization of suicide bombing ability of the militants gave the security forces an added edge to wipe out the remaining Taliban. Some police officials claim that change in the kind of crimes shows that the situation is moving back to normal.
Kidnappings top the crime chart in 2010 with 547 cases, including 133 of kidnapping for ransom, as compared to 530 in 2009, including 158 for ransom. But the major achievement is that a threat of the Taliban marching on to Peshawar has been neutralized. Swat and Buner to the north of Peshawar had been overrun by Taliban who had also made gains in the Upper and Lower Dir and Shangla districts have been reversed.
The militants, after losing ground, have also changed tactics and are now relying more on roadside bombings, rocket and mortar attacks, ambushes and kidnappings for ransom. The number of militant attacks on police stations, intelligence agency and security forces has also dropped. The change in suicide techniques and use of woman suicide bomber in tribal culture speaks of pressure on militants. A security report from the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) said the number of violent incidents and terror attacks in Pakistan fell by 11 per cent during 2010, compared to 2009. The number of suicide attacks fell by 22 per cent to 68 in 2010, compared with 87 last year. The senior commanders of TTP who started the war of terror in Pakistan have been eliminated and mid level inspire little confidence in the ranks. Field commanders seem to be on their own, each pursuing his own agenda resulting in a breakdown of authority on the ground. Mid and lower-level commanders are being captured or are laying arms, many of their replacements seem incapable of keeping their fighters in line.
The Kidnappings, indiscriminate IED and suicide-bomb attacks, abuses of power, blowing up of schools and bridges having direct implications for local populace are alienating formerly sympathetic villagers.
Such success is force multipliers in insurgency as it is not only that you reduce fighting capability of terrorists but this also provides a propaganda victory. The deserter from terrorists under unfavorable environment created by LEA becomes a source of vital
information on terrorist techniques, move and intensions to work out future strategy.
However the relay race now enters the delicate portion of the strategy and the baton has been passed to the next player. Army can only support the government which is already fragile and under political and economic pressures. The government must act as a prime mover to set pace for the society and provide the environment of economic opportunities and social justice. Within Pakistan’s, there is a persistent folklore of Taliban justice: They claim that the Islamists reduced crime and brought a pristine sense of order to the frontier. A bold, clear and upfront leadership to re-enforce confidence in society is the need of time. The confident society will restore their own economy, they will realize the need for a broader education system.
The religious institutions in their current form cannot produce professionals needed for a functioning contemporary society. Above all, the leadership has to convince and take the nation including political stakeholders on board for the existing and oncoming
challenges on national as well as global issues to consolidate gains and leap for opportunities…