Operation Zarb-e-Azb, translated literally as ‘Sharp Strike’, was launched on 15th June, 2014. It was launched initially in North Waziristan along the Pak-Afghan border. Operation Zarb-e-Azb, long overdue, was launched in wake of the attacks on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi carried out on 8th June, 2014. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) took responsibility for the heinous attack. Operation Zarb-e-Azb is a joint military offensive by the Pakistan Armed Forces against any and all militant groups in the country including TTP, IMU, East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Haqqani Network, Jundallah, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and al-Qaeda. Nearly 30,000 army personally from country are currently a part of this operation to annihilate terrorism from its roots within Pakistan. As a consequence to Operation Zarb-e-Azb, terrorist attacks in Pakistan have dropped to a six-year low since 2008. The drop translates into a 70% decrease of militant activities within the country and therefore has received widespread support both nationally and internationally.
Success and Weakness of Operation Zarb-e-Azb
Pakistani military reported yearly progress on the Operation Zarb-e-Azb on the 13th June, 2015. According to the report, issued by DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Asim Saleem Bajwa, 2,763 militants had been killed in 9,000 intelligence-based operations (IBOs). Of the militant killed, 253 were commanders. The report further stated that 837 terrorist hideouts had been destroyed while 253 tons of explosives were recovered. To add to the stash, it was revealed that 18,087 weapons were recovered that included light machines guns (LMGs), heavy machine guns (HMGs), rocket launchers, AK-47s and sniper rifles. The DG also mentioned that enemy stronghold had been destroyed while some militants were held captives. Such achievements cost the Pakistan army a cost of an estimated $1.3 billion and martyrdom of some 347 officers and soldiers. While no confirmation of these figures from an external source can be gathered, since media organizations were not directly allowed to cover the operation, the figures should have major grounds to it considering the fact that the terrorist activities in the country have decreased significantly.
One of the primary weaknesses of Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been on the government’s part; it’s negligence to coordinate with the Afghan government. Before Operation Zarb-e-Azb began, any military offensive against the militants would lead the militants into their strongholds in North Waziristan district. The district lines up against the Pak-Afghan border. With the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, militants now flee into the safety of Afghanistan. According to a news report, some 400 families directly and indirectly related with militant groups including al-Qaeda and IMU, fled into Afghanistan in December, 2014 and now live comfortably at locals’ homes. That is a major flaw. Pakistan needs to work with the Afghan government in order to tackle these problems and deploy border controls of the strictest manner.
In the same month of June, 2015, it was reported that Pakistan Armed Forces were on their final stretch to rid the country of terrorism. They called it the final phase of the Operation Zarb-e-Azb. The final phase was to begin in July. If the reports hold any truth in them, it would seem that currently the Operation Zarb-e-Azb is close to achieving its objectives. The final phase of the operation is focused on regions that lie south of Dattakhel, towards the Afghan border through the Shawal Valley. A significant numbers of militants are believed to have taken refuge in those areas, especially Shawal Valley. It is said that Shawal Valley houses several militant strongholds, and offers passage into Afghanistan. Hopefully, clearing out those areas will effectively end terrorism in the country. It is to note however, that the operation should not end there. Constant vigilance is required to ensure that the militants are rendered incapable of ever setting foot in the country again, by land, by sea or by air.
It’s a matter of great privilege and honor to be commanding such an accomplished and battle hardened Army, We will not stop unless we achieve our end objective of a terror free Pakistan.
– General Raheel SharifYou can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ for more updates. Otherwise fill in the subscription box above, or subscribe to our RSS Feed.