His words are echoing today loud and clear and with the pride of the dutifulness, sacrifices and commitment of an army speaking behind that has written an episode of history with no match to be found anywhere in the world. He confidently puts it as, “Zarb-e-Azb was launched against terrorists of all hues and colour, with sanctuaries of terrorists dismantled during the operation without discrimination,” These are the words of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif on two year successful completion of the operation Zarb-e-Azb, and, today, Pakistan is a safer place than it was before the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2014.
Inception of Operation Zarb-e-Azb
With the full support of political Government, the Pakistan military launched a full scale military offence Zarb-e-Azb on 15th June 2014 with the staunch determination to wipe out hotbeds of militants in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) that isa strategically important agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan.
The operation is named as Zarb-e Azab.‘Azb’ refers to one of the seven swords of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that was he carried along in the Ghazwaz of Uhad and Badr to strike hard infidels. Zarb-e-Azb means “swift and conclusive strike”not over yet.
Suicide bombings, target killing, fatalities by violence, and terrorist attacks had plagued the peace of Pakistan since a decade.In Pakistan, the presence of militant groups in NWA was seen as major cause of worst terrorist attacks in last few years. Militant wings had stronghold in NWA and terrorist wings were active in using Pakistan’s own soil for their nefarious designs. On 8 June 2014, militants group attacked Jinnah International Airport in Karachi which led toprompt inception of the Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
The defenders of Pakistan initiated the operation with unflinching faith and undaunted commitment toeradicate the scourge of terrorism while fighting without any discrimination of “good” and “bad” Taliban.
Undoubtedly, it was an uphill task to fight in the most treacherous terrain but Pakistan armed forces proved its invincibility with an unwavering resolve, as the motherland’ peace and progress has always remainedparamount for Pakistan Armed forces.
Undaunted soldiers of Pakistan armed forces, successfully targeted sanctuaries and safe havens of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Punjabi Taliban, East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Al-Qaeda and all other miscreant militant outfits on the harshest terrain of the world withvalour.
Many global and domestic security portals saw operation Zarb-e-Azb as an instrument of peace in country. There is long list of various military, civil leaders and forums across the globe that generously acknowledged and praised the success of the Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
TheUS State Department country reports on Terrorism, released inearlier June 2016, appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to curb terrorism and maintained that Pakistan “remained a critical counterterrorism partner in 2015.”
The report further acknowledges the operation Zarb-e-Azab and reads, throughout 2015, “the Pakistani military continued ground and air operations in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency to eliminate terrorist safe havens and recover illegal weapons caches.”
Statistical data endorses theunparalleled success of operation
While analyzing various sources that mostly matched, it was found that the number of terror related incidents have gone down since the inception of Zarb-e-Azb.Concurrently, the percentage of the global terrorism surged form 40-50%, however, terrorism decreased from 40-45% in Pakistan, as per precise security reports published in 2016.
Figures speak the truth. In the wake of Zarb-e-Azb the number of terror related incidents, terrorist activities; suicide bombings have witnessed dip in Pakistan.
The Global terrorism index (GTI) 2015, complied by the international research group the Institute for Economics and Peace, analyses impact of terrorism on global community. The report conceded success of Zarb-e-Azb and stated “Pakistan was the only country in the ten most impacted countries that saw a decline in deaths and accordingly it dropped from third to fourth.”
*Data retrieved from SATP till June 26, 2016
In 2015, many security analysts agreed thatthe number of the Suicide attacks, Terrorists attacks and fatalities in terrorist attacks decreased in Pakistan with impressive numbers.According to South Asian terrorism Portal, in Pakistan, during 2013, terrorists carried out 43 attacks, however, during 2015, 2016 the number of suicide attacks plummeted in country and the credit obviously goes to the operation Zarb-e-Azb.
Decreased percentage of civilian casualties from terrorist violence (2014-2016) SATP till June 26, 2016
According to data retrieved from the South Asia Terrorism Portal till June 26 2016, the fatalities of civilians from terrorist violence are declining in number, the year the operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched. Civilian fatalities, has been dropped to 40 percent in 2014 and 65 percent in 2015 and 74 percent in 2016.
Source: SATP *Data till 3 July, 2016
Thanks to Zarb-e-Azb, the number of civilian fatalities in terrorist violence shrank from horrible four digit figure to triple digit within launch of one year. In 2013, before Zarb-e-Azb , 3001 civilians killed in terrorist violence. In 2015, the causalities decreased to 532 to 308 in 2016.
Fact sheet of two year achievements
The facts released by the ISPR on the two year completion of the operation Zarb-e-azb are self-explanatory to manifest the success of the operation.
Over 4,000 square kilometers of land in North Waziristan, including the most treacherous and rugged terrain of Shawal, has been cleared of terrorists, which included 900 terrorists of proscribed militant organization Lashkar-e-Islam.
The valiant Pakistan Army successfully carried out 19000 Intelligence-based operations (IBOs) were carried out which were based on interrogation and lead generations.
Pakistan Army also seized around 243 tons of explosives, enough to make IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) for 17 years, shut down 7,500 bomb factories, and a total of 3500 terrorists were killed, wiped out 992 safe havens and sanctuaries of terrorists.
Our 4900 soldiers including 17 officers embraced sacred status of martyrdom, and over 2000 valiant Ghazis wounded during the past two years.
Uplift programmes introduced by the Pakistan Army
Pakistan military introducedvarious uplift programmes and activities for the development and rehabilitation of the area.
On 14 June 2016, the COAS visited North and South Waziristan expressed solidarity with natives and categorically emphasized, “Development of FATA is a priority task being undertaken by the army as part of a comprehensive plan. These projects will improve the quality of life in the tribal areas, usher in a new era of economic prosperity and address the problem of militancy in the long term.”
The COAS inaugurated various infrastructure and developmentprogrammes, including the 72km long Miranshah – Razmak - Makeen dual carriage road which is part of the 705km Central Trade Corridor. The proposed road will decrease distances of several hours to a few hours between the North and South Waziristan after completion.
Earlier, Pakistan army introduced a “de-weaponisation” campaign in North Waziristan and registered approximately, 3,000 tribesmen under the campaign.
Pakistan Army has undertaken 567 projects in the social, communication, infrastructure and power sectors in Waziristan.
While staying determined on the Temporary Displaced People (TDPs) issue, Pakistan military generously helped to return around 61% TDPs to their hometowns while the remaining TDPs are expected to be repatriated by December, 2016.
Army units, particularly its engineers, have been engaged in building in infrastructure and road developments in the reconstruction phase of the operation. For the stated purpose, FWO and engineering units are working day and night in construction of roads, bridges, schools, mosques, basic health units and water supply schemes in the North and South agencies.
Zarb-e_azb has accentuated positive effect on Pakistan’s security, stability and progress. The mega project of $ 42 billion CPEC was initiated after satisfactory security situation in Pakistan. With defeating terrorism, the Pakistan Armed Forces have gifted the nation with the peace that guarantees prosperity under CPEC. It has not only paved the way for a promising future but has also restored the confidence of a nation that was shattered by the terror waves during these two decades. With the output of the operation praised worldwide, all the strategic stakeholders in the region should now be left with little doubt about the sheer sincerity of Pakistan in fighting the menace of terrorism.
Now, so as to save the country from the ever present monster of extremism the world, especially the US, should now look towards working with Pakistan in a cordial manner whereby giving due regard to the reality of its problems and not leaving it alone as has been a precedent in the past.