25 June 2014

Pakistan Taking Steps in the War On Terror

Image Copyright: Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty Images

Throughout the years of American involvement in Afghanistan, many have wondered whether or not the Pakistanis actually cared about the mission to crush the insurgency and terrorist activities in the tribal territories abutting the two countries.  The Pakistani security forces rarely patrolled the border to limit insurgent access into Afghanistan.  The Taliban were able to infiltrate Afghanistan’s borders because American troops couldn’t pursue.

In the last two weeks, America has been focused on the lightning advance of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq, as the radical Islamist group marched on Baghdad.  The Iraqi Army fell apart in days, civilians fled Mosul and Tikrit, and American military advisors (Green Berets) have been sent to sharpen the spear of Iraqi capability--with Afghanistan on the back burner.  

Last week, the Pakistani Army launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which means “Sharp and Cutting,” as a massive offensive against several insurgent groups in the western tribal lands abutting Afghanistan.  Over 30,000 troops are involved in the ongoing operations in North Waziristan, working with air strikes and armor.  The Pakistani Army is reacting to an increase in insurgent violence and suicide bombing, most notably in the recent attack on the airport in Karachi, which left 36 dead.

The Pakistani people have grown weary of the decade of violence that stems from activity in the Waziristan region and many want to see radical groups like the East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement or the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan gone forever.  This widespread public support has bolstered its army’s resolve and spurred continued action.  

President Obama made it clear America will not always take point on military operations in the Middle East, but act through coalitions and indirect forms of support. Is this the type of initiative that countries in the Middle East and North Africa need to take to combat terror?  The mission is ongoing but experts are optimistic about its success.  What do you see in the mission’s future?

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