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Military Operation: Delaying Elections or Fighting Terrorism?

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Pakistan has decided to launch new military operation nationwide, especially in areas bordering Afghanistan. The country on the brink of economic and political crisis will again have a tussle with its own people. The need to launch this operation has been under discussion since the breakdown of negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group in the previous year.

Interestingly, the decision was made the day after PM Shehbaz Sharif held a national security committee meeting to reject the verdict of Supreme Court regarding elections date. The operation will give the PDM government a chance to delay elections citing the security situation as a reason. It is also to be determined what implications this operation will have on the IMF bailout program.

When entire world is putting emphasis on economic stability and cooperation among the state and citizens, Pakistan is launching a military operation. We have not learnt from history and our mistakes. The operations like Zarb e Azab and Rad ul Fasad brought huge damage to the state in the form of insurgencies, economic turmoil, and political unrest.

The timing of every event is particularly important in order to analyze it. Pakistan in contemporary times is going through the internal conflicts. The political unrest, sky rocketing inflation, flour crisis, and lastly rising unemployment among the people. In such a situation how is this possible to launch a full-fledged war against our own people?

Repercussions of such operations

According to the UNHRC reports of 2009, approximately 0.5 million people (about half the population of Waziristan) were displaced and fled to different cities and provinces. Leaving behind ruins of their beloved ones and their land. It is yet to be analyzed whether the decision to launch the military operation is based on political interests or it is necessary to launch it.

The PDM government is facing a lot of challenges. The economy is crippling day by day, with hyperinflation, all time lowest foreign reserves, and now the supreme court has announced the date for the elections. In such a situation the PDM government has left with no option to delay the elections.

On the other side, Pakistani military especially Army is facing a lot of criticism due to the allegations of its unconstitutional involvement in political affairs and running the public office. The decision to launch the operation is critically being opposed by the opposition and allies of the PDM government. The decision was not presented in front of the national assembly’s standing committee. It was solely taken by PM and NSC without the consent of other parliamentarians.

Economic default

Such decisions in critical times where a lot should be done to eradicate inflation and political disputes, perpetuate the mindset of political elite. It depicts how concerned government and policy makers are towards the poor and marginalized population. What benefits this military operation will have, yet to be determined.

PM Shehbaz Sharif often says that IMF is giving tough time to Pakistan. This is crucial to understand What consequences will it have if IMF considering impacts of this operation refuses to give $1billion? A country already at the brink of default is not able to bear the cost of such military operations.

It is particularly important to discuss and bring reforms towards counter-terrorism strategies. The use of multi-faceted soft power policy is crucial to implement rather than launching military operations. This is particularly important given the ongoing threat of terrorism from organizations like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has also led to a loss of trust in both the political and military establishment.

Effective counter-terrorism policies

Therefore, it is essential to address these challenges and prioritize the implementation of effective counter-terrorism policies to ensure the safety and security of the country and its citizens.

The world has witnessed the effectiveness of soft power when US led NATO forces peacefully evacuated Afghanistan. Using soft power creates a better image of the military and government. It helps to cope with insurgencies and freedom movements.

If instead of military operations Pakistan has used the soft power, it would have benefitted it with low cost and effective results, with less or zero human capital loss, a low ratio of insurgencies and sense of deprivation among the youth of Balochistan and KPK, positive image in World politics, better trade policies with Neighbours like India, Iran, and Afghanistan.

I know most of the readers will think I am being optimistic and undermining reality, but we must admit that reality comes with us, and we are the ones, who by making policies that are favorable to both the people and the economy will turn today’s terrific reality into tomorrow’s better reality.

The PDM government is using delaying tactics by approving such military operations to avoid elections. They must consider how it will impact the commoners in the country where poor are in large queues to get free flour, where poor are committing suicide to fight hunger. Pakistan has suffered a lot in the past due to exercise of hard power and military operations.

Conclusion

It is time to reform the policies and design them in a way that they can be easy to implement. Government’s focus should be on economic and political stability rather than inviting another chaos to the nation. A multifaceted and effective counterterrorism policy should be formulated and implemented, which solely focuses on addressing the root causes of terrorism, strengthening intelligence capabilities, improving border security, and enhancing law enforcement and judicial systems.

Such a policy should prioritize the use of soft power strategies and diplomatic efforts to prevent the spread of extremism and radicalization, while also addressing the underlying social, economic, and political grievances that contribute to terrorism.

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The author is a student of Defence and Strategic Studies at Quaid e Azam University. With prior experience as a researcher at PTV World, the author possesses a strong background in the field of counterterrorism, as well as national and international affairs. For further inquiries, the author can be contacted at usmankhan70611@gmail.com

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