Who Benefits from Zarb-e-Azab (Waziristan)?

By Bilal Khan On the 15th of June the Pakistani Military initiated a massive military campaign against the Taliban in North Waziristan. Operation Zarb e-Azb (in reference to the sword carried by the Prophet Muhammad SAW) is an integrated campaign involving not only tens of thousands of Pakistan Army soldiers, but also the Pakistan Air Force and paramilitary units, such as the Frontier Corps. The stated aim of the operation is to neutralize the presence...
19th June 20146 min


By Bilal Khan

On the 15th of June the Pakistani Military initiated a massive military campaign against the Taliban in North Waziristan. Operation Zarb e-Azb (in reference to the sword carried by the Prophet Muhammad SAW) is an integrated campaign involving not only tens of thousands of Pakistan Army soldiers, but also the Pakistan Air Force and paramilitary units, such as the Frontier Corps. The stated aim of the operation is to neutralize the presence of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other foreign-based militant outfits, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). While an operation of this nature was brewing for many months prior to its initiation, the recent deadly attacks in Karachi (against the Karachi Airport and Airport Security Forces) served as a major catalyst towards initiating a renewed military effort in the country’s western frontiers. While defended under the auspices of neutralizing the threats posed to Pakistan’s internal security, a number of critical observations must be addressed.

Firstly, the idea that the so-called peace negotiations between the Government of Pakistan and TTP ‘broke down’ is not entirely accurate. With the Nawaz Sharif government demanding the complete capitulation of the Taliban on the one hand, and the TTP’s demand that the Sharif government disengage from America on the other, these so-called talks were poised to fail.[1] The assassination of TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud by the US and infrequent air strikes by the Pakistan Air Force further agitated the situation.

Secondly, the notion that the attacks in Karachi factored into authorizing this operation is also inaccurate. According to Pakistani security analyst Harris Khan, “the military’s preparations began a long time ago and intensified after peace negotiations began with the Pakistan Taliban (TTP).”[2] In other words, the military leadership had always intended to engage in North Waziristan. Moreover, the so-called peace negotiations were more of another step towards the eventuality of fighting than a genuine alternative.

Thirdly, the claim that the Pakistani military is focused exclusively on routing elements that are detrimental to its vital security interests is false. Although the blame directed towards the TTP and IMU is serving a major part in the military’s public relations efforts, these operations are in truth directed towards weakening the Taliban presence in Afghanistan. Claude Rakisits, a security expert focused on South Asian issues, noted that this operation has in its sights the Haqqani Network and other ‘good Taliban’ entities.[3] To add credence to this idea, the US Embassy in Pakistan announced that it was in support of these operations. In fact, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby stated, “The Pakistan military and the government understand the threat, and they continue to go after that threat.”[4]

It is clear that there is a significant area of convergence in what the US and the Pakistani authorities deem as ‘threats.’ As it stands today, the United States has in its crosshairs the objective of cementing a permanent, but feasible, presence in the region of South-Central Asia through Afghanistan and Pakistan. The so-called Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the Afghan government will go a long-way in guaranteeing the Americans permanent military facilities and security-related powers within the country. However, the feasibility of this plan is dependent on whether America can pull the Taliban in Afghanistan to the negotiating table, so as to end the Taliban’s struggle against the US-led occupation.

Decimating the Taliban’s longstanding foundations in Pakistan’s western frontiers will serve as a major contributor towards that goal. Furthermore, these operations, which are expected to be long-term, will further weaken Pakistan’s capacity to exert itself beyond its borders. Pakistan’s participation in the U.S-led War in Afghanistan cost the country upwards of $100 billion in direct costs and lost opportunities[5], thereby greatly impacting the armed forces’ capacity to spend on further bridging the military gap with India. Numerous big-ticket programs have either been slowed down (such as the JF-17 fighter) or scrapped entirely (such as the planned acquisition of new submarines from Germany). A weaker  and internally distracted Pakistan will permit more space for India in its efforts to counteract China.

There is no doubt that Pakistan’s crippling internal security problems (resulting from a spate of terrorist attacks throughout the country) are a reality. While the threat is understood, agreement in focusing on Waziristan is not as firm. Retired Brigadier General Javed Hussain, a former officer of Pakistan’s special-forces outfit the Special Services Group (SSG) argued that the military should have focused on clearing Pakistani cities of terrorists instead of diving into Waziristan.[6] The implication being that it is not the Taliban organizations that are a threat, but the actual perpetrators behind the series of terrorist attacks that had taken place throughout the country. There is also the question of why foreign intelligence operations, such as those led by the CIA  (as seen during the Raymond Davis case), are being permitted to flourish within the country.

Nonetheless, the costs to be incurred as a result of this operation will be excessive, not only in financial terms, but also in human terms as entire communities are displaced and left as unwanted refugees within their own homeland (and by their own army). The beneficiaries will not include the Pakistani people nor the general Pakistani military, but rather, the US, India and the Pakistani government and military leaders renting out Pakistani policies in-exchange for aid and loans.


[1] http://www.revolutionobserver.com/2013/11/pakistan-on-the-verge-of-war.html

[2] http://www.defensenews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014306170047

[3] http://www.defensenews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014306170047

[4] http://www.geo.tv/article-150896-Pentagon-wasnt-aware-of-Pakistans-decision-to-launch-offensive-in-NWA

[5] http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-219913-Dar-says-Pakistan-lost-$100-bn-in-war-on-terror

[6] http://www.geo.tv/article-150896-Pentagon-wasnt-aware-of-Pakistans-decision-to-launch-offensive-in-NWA


  • Imran Akbar

    20th June 2014 at 9:34 am

    Mr. Bilal, the whole Pakistan has been screwed dry in past 10 years n yet once again u r brewing conspiracy. U lost 100 billion doesn’t matter but u lost 50000 ppl is main concern. Whole world fears Pakistan coz of these Zalimans who don’t represent even Pakistanis upto .25 % of Pk’s total population. Have u ever tried to enter any other country with Pk ppt? How many ppl ve u killed or I ve killed? Then y ppl r scared of u me or from any common Pakistani. Now I being Pakistani fear Pakistanis coz v Pakistanis r totally on course /mode of self destruction. Our views n our thoughts r so disintegrated n v as a nation r becoming a liability on this world. Talibans r threat to Pakistan n Pakistanis. Plz dont confuse people rite in the heat of battle.


  • Bilal Khan

    22nd June 2014 at 12:47 am


    The issue isn’t whether Pakistan should do what it takes to clear its internal security problems, but rather, that it should do it correctly.

    At the end of the day, there is no denying the following facts: (1) Terrorism took-off in Pakistan *after* the U.S entered the region. (2) That there are foreign intelligence outfits freely operating in Pakistan, and the Pakistani government let’s them roam freely, as evidenced with its meek approach to the Raymond Davis controversy. (3) The people in the tribal areas were effectively abandoned by Pakistan on days when it truly mattered, i.e. when U.S drones were raining down missiles against villages, schools and communities.

    (4) The U.S has systematically worked to weaken Pakistan. Let’s – for argument’s sake – assume the government wasn’t a stooge to foreign interests, then how do you explain away America’s refusal to let Pakistan deal with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (whilst permitting India freely)? How do you explain away the continued interference of the Americans in a number of Pakistan’s defence dealings with other countries (e.g. South Korea)? Of course, it should also beg the question how or why on earth governments such as those run by Zardari and Sharif are given the legitimacy (via aid, recognition, etc) when it’s clear they’re no good for Pakistanis.

    Looking at the above (and several other) *facts* together, it should be clear to everyone that the Pakistani political and military leadership are the last people we ought to trust when it comes to matter of our internal security.

    In fact, the standard protocol (read; common-sense approach) to this issue would be to seal off the border and remove all those involved in bloodletting Pakistani lives, including the U.S which has made such an action a part of its policy (via drone strikes). But this is NOT what’s happening. Our jawaans are fighting this war whilst the government and generals continue siphoning U.S aid and making it easier for the U.S to cement its presence in Afghanistan. Turns out the people (in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas) are uneasy about that U.S presence, yet the leadership continues moving ahead with its lopsided policies. Not only that, but it is clear to everyone that the Pak Army isn’t solely focusing on the TTP or those attacking Pakistan, but the Taliban in general, including those fighting the U.S in Afghanistan.

    If you truly desire peace and stability in Pakistan, then it is time for you to call Pakistan to be independent. Call for Pakistan to break off its clearly detrimental security ties with the U.S, and call for its armed forces to actually defend its citizens (from foreign drone strikes, terrorists, etc). Call for a clear policy where the Pakistani state isn’t out for the U.S, but rather, the people’s interests.

    If – at the end of all that – there are still people and groups attacking then Pakistan, then rest assured, public opinion will be behind the government 100%. After all, the government would be serving the people and defending them in earnest, unlike today.


  • Ali Uddin

    22nd June 2014 at 7:54 am

    Mr. Bilal, assalamo alaikum.
    It seems that you are willing to condone murder and massacre of innocent Muslims by these Taliban (Zaliman) in favor of your conspiracy theories. You have forgotten that the Qur’an values human life over everything else. And here these Kharijite Taliban go around murdering common men and women in the street through suicide bombs and attacks and create fitna and fasad in our land.

    If they want to fight the Americans, why do they murder common Muslims? This is not jihad. This is fasad.

    Remember, Hz. Ali (radiallahu anhu) fought against the Kharijis who revolted against the central power, and even laid down his own life for it.

    We now have the modern Kharijis, who have revolted against the rule of law.

    It is unforgivable that they murder and plunder the Muslims of Pakistan. If they want to fight against kufr, let them stand up and fight the Americans or others who are sitting in Afghanistan. It is sheer nonsense that fighting the Pakistan government or the Pakistan army is like fighting Americans.

    Please wake up. Please study the way of the Prophet and how he won the world. It is not through suicide bombings, or by trying to kill his own ummat.


  • Bilal Khan

    22nd June 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Ali Uddin,

    Condone murder? I am the one calling for security policies that are *independent* and oriented towards alleviating *all* threats posed to the people residing in Pakistan, regardless of where they emerge from. Is it not a fact that the U.S openly killed Pakistani people (drone strikes)? Is it not a fact that the Pakistani authorities colluded with the Americans to kidnap and torture Pakistanis (Dr. Aafia Siddiqui)? Where is the legitimacy? You speak about the threat the TTP pose, but what these threats? They don’t exist?

    You speak of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the Khulafah Rashidun, but did it escape you that they never colluded with foreign powers at the expense of the Muslims? Did it escape you that the Khulafah Rashidun implemented all of Shariah, be it the rights of the people, protecting the people, ensuring the protection of minorities, defending the borders, *expanding* the borders, etc… Are you telling me the GOP, who refuses to even let the provinces accept IDPs and defend its citizens from foreign strikes, is implementing all this?

    Ali (RA) had complete ownership over dealing with the Khawarij, and thanks to the Khilafat’s clear-cut and unambiguous policies (of actually defending the people from external threats, fighting corruption and other areas where the Pakistani government’s clearly refusing to cater), the Khawarij were isolated and ultimately withered away.

    My perspective is clear: Guarantee Pakistan’s internal security by pursuing policies that decisively and unambiguously achieve the country’s independence from all foreign influences and target all real threats (backed by proof of culpability) irrespective of origin.

    Finally, I advise you take cauation in advocating for bloodshed, especially when it involves your own soldiers, people and the land’s vital interests. How can any sane person pursue such an operation without first guaranteeing the independence of their policies (from clearly apparent foreign influences, e.g. U.S aid)? I am the one advising caution and nuance, not reactively demanding full-scale operations, killing hundreds and displacing hundreds of thousands from their livelihoods on questionable grounds.

    You appeal to Ali (RA)’s leadership, yet our Pakistan lacks all of the essential legitimizing foundations, such as deriving policy independently, not renting it out for aid money.

    …and let’s not start discussions with faulty guilt-trips.


  • observer

    23rd June 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Very well written and balanced insight…

    This article sheds light on realities that media does not want the public to be aware of… and hence masses are bombarded with opinions and analyses which take them far away from reality of the matter!
    Today we are witnessing almost most of the predictions about end of times with our eyes…

    “And if you obey most of those in the earth, they will mislead you from the way of God. They follow but assumption / conjecture and they only guess / lie” [Quran 006:116]

    “Or do you think that most of them listen or use their intellect? They are only like cattle, nay, they are more astray from the way” [Quran 025.044]

    “Islam began as something strange, and it shall return to being something strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers.” [Hadith]


  • Ali Uddin

    24th June 2014 at 8:07 am

    You are the one supporting and advocating on behalf of the new Khawarij – i.e. the TTP. You are the one who are supporting these murderous bandits who enter the bazars and public places in Pakistan and try to blow up people.

    I am not advocating any bloodshed. But I will certainly advocate elimination of these new Khawarij, just like Hz. Ali fought and almost decimated the Khawarij. Please read the history on how Hz. Ali decimated nearly 20,000 Khawarij (Muslims?) at the Battle of Nahrawan.

    Yes, I advocate the decimation of the roughly 5,000 TTP who are the modern day Khawarij, for the sake of protection of the lives of 200 million Pakistani Muslims. It is not for US interests, but for the interests of our Muslim Pakistanis.

    Please dont confuse.

    Also the fact of the matter is that the TTP are agents of the CIA and RAW. No Muslim will go into the bazaars and mosques of Pakistan to kill and maim innocent Pakistani Muslims.

    I also urge you not to confuse the traitorous policy of Pervez Musharraf when he colluded with the Americans to save his own skin, with the destruction of the TTP Khawarij.

    And please dont just quote the Qur’an and Hadith out of context so that people start thinking that these verses were revealed to justify your argument.


  • Bilal Khan

    24th June 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Ali Uddin,

    Again, my concern is *not* the issue of maintaining Pakistan’s internal security interests, but *how* Pakistan accomplishes (or claims to accomplish) this goal.

    You keep appealing to the authority of Ali (RA), yet you never address the reality that Ali (RA) was a Khalifa and implemented by all of Islam. In other words, he had the legitimacy, he was not selling out to major powers nor working against the interests of the Ummah.

    Can anyone say the same of the current Pakistani leadership? Our people have been abandoned to drone strikes and extraordinary rendition (see Dr. Aafia Siddiqui), how is this the sign of a legitimate leadership? And how can you trust such a leadership to fight the real culprits? If Pakistan were acting against U.S interests, then why is the U.S signing off on aid for General Mahmood on his visit?

    Given that the leadership is untrustworthy, how can you be so confident that the real culprits are being uprooted? Look at the cost of this war: hundreds of thousands of IDPs and many people getting killed. Yes, you’ll label the dead TTP, but for a war being led by those still permitting the U.S open reign over Pakistani territory, those are tall claims. Again, I advise you be cautious, it’s one thing to ask for Pakistan to clear threats to its internal security, it’s another to condemn the wrong people simply because you had trust in an untrustworthy government and leadership (which is clear, just look at the facts).

    Whether they’re TTP or something else, the culprits must be brought to justice, agreed. But that isn’t the point of the article, the point is whether the current Pakistani gov’t and military leadership are actually interested in that goal. By all indications, e.g. the acceptance of U.S aid, the refusal to clamp down on the U.S presence in Pakistan, the refusal to address U.S drone strikes, the reports of them targeting those tribals involved in actually fighting the U.S in Afghanistan, refusal to permanently close the supply lines etc, clearly suggests otherwise.

    So before blaming me for taking Qur’an and Sunnah out of context, try grasping your own words about Ali (RA). Yes, Ali (RA) rained down on the Khawarij, but Ali (RA) was also a leader who ruled by Islam and did not collude with foreign powers, unlike the Pakistani leadership today


  • observer

    26th June 2014 at 5:29 am

    People really need to come out of the illusions media zionist controlled media has spread. To understand mujahideen and their aims and objectives better listen and read their statements released from authentic jihadi sources on the internet… obviously the media is playing single sided role and does not have the courage to justly publish their statements and points of view – equal rights and freedom of speech!!!!

    Just like this very term Khawarij… people hardly know what it actually means!
    People think that present day Muslims rulers (who ally with disbelievers against muslims.. their own people in their own countries) are like Caliphs and such Muslim Rulers against whom khurooj is not allowed, Subhan Allaah!!!

    خوارج کون؟؟؟؟؟

    خارجی کون !!

    نشانی نمبر ایک ۔ جو قرآن پڑھے لیکن قرآن اس کے حلق سے نیچے نہ اترے !(متفق علیہ)
    قرآن کس کے حلق سے نیچے نہیں اترتا ؟ جو قرآن سے شریعت نکالے کہ جو قرآن سے جمہوریت نکالے ؟

    نشانی نمبر 2۔ غیرمسلموں کو چھوڑ دے اور اپنوں کو قتل کرے !(متفق علیہ)
    امریکیوں (جیسے ریمنڈ ڈیوس، بلیک واٹر) کو چھوڑ دے اور مسلمانوں کے گھروں و جگہوں پر فوجیں و ڈرون بھیج دے !

    نشانی نمبر 3- جو اپنے بارے میں سب سے زیادہ صاحب ایمان ہونے کا گمان رکھے ان کے جد اعلی نے رسول اللہ کو بھی نعوذ بااللہ کہہ دیا تھا کے اے محمد انصاف کر !!(متفق علیہ)
    آج کون رسول کے راستے سے ہٹ کر اپنے آپ کو پارسا و نیک سمجھتا ہے ؟ یہاں تک کہ اہل ایمان کو بھی کہہ دیتا ہے کہ انصاف کرو !!

    نشانی نمبر 4 ۔ یہ مخلوق میں سب سے اچھی بات کہیں گئیں (یعنی لوگوں کے سامنے اسلامی منشور پیش کریں گئیں)۔ متفق علیہ
    کون لوگوں کے سامنے اسلام کا نام لے کر انہیں اسلام کے نام پر دھوکا دیتا ہے ؟ اگر کوئی شک ہے تو مسلمان خطوں کے حکمرانوں و حکومتوں کی پہلی جنگ عظیم سے تاریخ اٹھا کر دیکھ لو

    نشانی نمبر 5 ۔ وہ اللہ کی کتاب کی طرف بلاتے ہیں لیکن خود اس پر عمل نہیں کرتے ۔ سنن ابی داود
    کون اللہ کی کتاب کی طرف لوگوں کو بلا کر ،قرآن و سنت کو اپنا منبع قانون قرار دے کر ، قراداد مقاصد لکھ کر اس پر عمل نہیں کرتا ؟ آنکھیں کھول کر دیکھیے

    نشانی نمبر 6- قرآن کی ایسی آیتوں کو جو کہ کافرین کے بارے میں اتری ہیں ان کو مومنین پر منطبق کرتے ہیں ۔ بخاری
    کون کہتا ہے کہ کفار کے ساتھ جہاد کی آئیتیں یہود و نصاری کے لیے نہیں بلکہ دہشت گردوں کے لیے اتری ہیں ؟ کون جہاد کو زبان مغرب میں دہشت گردی کہتا ہے ؟ کس کے نزدیک فتنہ و فساد دراصل موجودہ جہاد ہے ؟ کچھ تو خیال کیجیے کون قرآن کی آیتوں کو مومنین پر منطبق کررہا ہے !!
    اب آتے ہیں بڑی نشانی کی طرف جو کہ خوارج کے لیے مخصوص ہے اور وہ یہ کہ یہ گناہ کبیرہ کے مرتکب کو بھی کافر جانے یہ سب سے بڑی نشانی ہے اور یہی ان کی اصل تعریف بھی ہے آپ کہیں گئیں کہ بھائی یہ نشانی تو ان میں پوری نہیں ہوتی کیونکہ یہ تو خود کبائر میں مبتلا ہیں اور ہر طرح کے بندے کو مسلمان ہی سمجھتے ہیں !! یہ تو ارجاء ہوا خارجیت تو نہ ہوئی !!
    میرے بھایئوں کفر وہ صنف ہے جس میں ہر باطل فرقے کی صفات جمع ہوجاتی ہیں یہ مومنین کے لیے بمثل خوارج ہیں اور کافرین کے لیے بمثل مرجیہ !! کیونکہ یہ کفر کا شکار ہیں ان میں ہر صفت کاپایا جانا ضروری ہے ۔ کیا ہمیں یاد نہیں کہ امام ابن تیمیہ نے تاتار کے خلاف اپنے مشہور فتوی میں انہیں بمثل خوارج بھی قرار دیا تھا !!! حالانکہ وہ انہیں کافر سمجھتے تھے اور ان کے کفر کا فتوی دیتے تھے ۔

    یہ جھنم کے کتوں سے بھی بدتر ہیں ان سے جہاد کرنا رسول اللہ کی آرزو رہی ہے


  • anony

    23rd July 2014 at 10:57 pm

    JAZAKUMULLAHU khayr for this clear essay which raises important questions, and for your clear responses to Ali Uddin above. I will share this inshaAllah.

    Oh ALLAH forgive us for our sins, for our negligence to Your commandments because of which we are now suffering under the worst of our people, people who were brought up in the society that we created, a society of disobedience to You. Forgive us and give us the Tawfiq to recover from our negligence and protect our weak and defend us against the enemies.


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