Zarb-e-Azb and the limits of military power

Parachinar Lashkar-e-Jhangvi attack

Army’s anti-terrorism campaign has been a huge success. We know this because we are reminded of how successful the Army has been by their crack media team such as the series of Tweets from General Asim Bajwa declaring operation Zarb-e-Azb “a phenomenal success” further projected by media that has been recruited as just another wing of ISPR. Gen Bajwa’s Twitter profile proclaims that “Truth Prevails”, and as far as we know everything that the Army’s top PR manager says is the truth, and the successes and sacrifice of our brave soldiers should be appreciated. However, without denying the great successes of Gen Raheel and Zarb-e-Azb, if “Truth Prevails”, we must also face the limits of military power in finally ridding our country of the menace of terrorism.

The proof that Army’s operations against TTP militants have been successful are obvious both from the improved psychological state of the people as well as the statistics which show an undeniable decline in attacks and fatalities. While there has been a decline in the number of attacks and the reporting on them, terrorism and extremism continue to bleed the nation.

Over the weekend, another bomb attack was carried out against innocents who were doing nothing but shopping at the weekly bazaar. The bomb killed two dozen innocent people and injured many more. The attack was carried out in Kurram Agency where security forces have already foiled at least one major attack in recent weeks. The successful attack was not carried out by TTP militants who are in the sights of Zarb-e-Azb, though, it was carried out by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

This is important because unlike TTP which the nation has united against after the 16th December attack on APS Peshawar, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi continues to receive strong support across the public.

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Anti-Ahmadi protest at Hafeez CenterAfter police removed anti-Ahmadi hate signs from Hafeez Center, mobs gathered to protest. They weren’t protesting against hate speech, they were protesting for it.

Army can do airstrikes against militant bases in Waziristan, and Burraq drone strikes can kill high profile terrorists in tribal areas. As long as hate and extremism continue to spread, though, who can defeat it? Army should be appreciated for reducing the number of attacks by taking on the militants. To rid the country of terrorism, though, it will take more than Zarb-e-Azb. More than National Action Plans. It will take each of us fighting back against to the hate and extremism and surrounds our society. Until then, terrorist attacks may be at low levels, but they will never be stopped.

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