Pakistan Launches Massive Military Operation Against Taliban Militants

Harrowed by the brazen attack by the Taliban on the country’s busiest airport, a determined Pakistan seems to be in an all out war against the rebels. The country has launched a massive operation against the Pakistani Taliban, reports Yahoo News. The operation in the troubled province of North Waziristan started on Sunday – exactly a week after the bold attack by the militants on Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport that killed over 35 people. The militants had followed up that attack by mounting another two days later, once again at an airport.

According to the Reuters, Pakistan is using troops, artillery, and helicopter gunships to the area in an attempt to weed out the insurgents who belong to the Tehrik-E-Taliban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taliban or the TTP. The fighters in the dreaded group are believed to be of Uzbek ethnicity. So far, reports have claimed that Pakistan has managed to kill over 100 insurgents in the operation with the help of air strikes. It is estimated that over 40,000 troops from the Pakistan military are involved in the operation. The TTP had in the past week claimed responsibility for the attacks in Pakistan and had warned that more attacks would be launched in the future as well.

The decision by Pakistan to launch an all out offensive against the militants has more or less extinguished the possibilities of any kind of peace talks with the insurgents. The TTP is on an attempt to topple the democratically elected government in Pakistan. Like they did to Afghanistan in 1996, the TTP wants all of Pakistan to be under them and wants the country to follow the hard line version of Islam that they practice. However, unlike Afghanistan of the 1990s, Pakistan happens to be a nuclear power and, in the eventuality of the Taliban managing to topple the government, it is feared that they would have no hesitation in using nuclear weapons against their enemies.

The army said a total of 105 insurgents, mostly Uzbeks, were killed by air strikes which preceded the ground operation. The Pakistani Army has issued a statement that reads:

“Our valiant armed forces have been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and colour, along with their sanctuaries,” the army said in a statement. With the support of the entire nation, and in coordination with other state institutions and law enforcement agencies, these enemies of the state will be denied space anywhere across the country.”

It is pertinent to note that the recently elected Prime Minister of the country, Nawaz Sharif, was until recently against an outright military operation against the TTP. It is therefore likely that the decision to send the troops in might have come under pressure from Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, which has in the past grabbed power from the civilian governments in Pakistan multiple times.

What this also means is that Pakistan should brace itself for revenge attacks by the TTP in the days to come where mostly innocent citizens of Pakistan are killed.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s defense ministry has said in a statement:

“We as a government tried our level best to resolve this crisis through dialogue. We were frustrated through attacks on innocent Pakistanis and damage to national assets. “This operation will continue until the surrender or elimination of the enemy.”

It is likely that this operation could turn out to be a long one. Owing to the conflict in the region, people living in North Waziristan have started fleeing the area. There is still no clarity whether any civilians were killed in the conflict so far. Journalists have little or no access to the region. Pakistan has also asked Afghanistan to close its borders so that fleeing TTP militants are forced to hole up within Pakistani territory.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]

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