Exigent Operations

It seems nothing is sacred from the political circus. Operation Azm-e-Istehkam, launched after a unanimous stakeholder consensus to beat back the growing threat of terrorism at our borders, has fallen victim to the same show. Despite its objective and existential need, political parties – especially from the opposition – have taken this moment to criticize the operation and ask for greater justification.

This is not surprising in the current political climate, but it is certainly lamentable. Fresh from sloganeering and mudslinging during the budget debates, the opposition decided to turn its guns towards the military operation as well – demanding being taken into confidence through detailed plans and briefings, while politicians outside the Parliament cast doubt on the potential of the operation to succeed and argued for a “political solution”.

Both attacks miss their marks. Firstly, this operation was not a unilateral decision by the government and the military. The campaign was launched with the consensus of all stakeholders, including the provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, during a meeting of the Central Apex Committee on the National Action Plan (NAP), chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Crucially this included representatives of the opposition, including KP Chief Minister and PTI leader Ali Amin Gandapur. The elected leadership of each province has been taken into confidence, the wider Parliament does not need to be.

Furthermore, the operation is a continuation of the principles and policies established in 2014 under the NAP, which saw Pakistan launch two very successful military operations in Zarb-e-Azb and Rad-ul-Fassad. This has been our political and military policy for close to a decade now, it is not some new direction that needs to be debated in the floor of the parliament.

The “political solution” being mooted by some circles is a pipe dream at the moment, and for that to realistically happen Pakistan needs to be negotiating from a position of power. Either way – Pakistan needs to launch Azm-e-Istehkam.

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