The federal capital was again abuzz on Friday with talks of a possible military operation in North Waziristan.
This comes in the wake of the outrage across the country over the Taliban attack on 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai over her speaking up for girls’ right to education. By the end of the day, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said such an operation was being seriously considered.
The possibility of a military operation gathered steam after some hard talk among military leaders on two successive days — first, the Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s remarks in Peshawar on Wednesday after visiting Ms. Yousafzai in hospital and then the statement issued on Thursday on the meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Rawalpindi.
Both statements articulated the Army’s resolve to fight terrorism. Also, the assessment appears to be that the outrage has created an atmosphere conducive to military operations in North Waziristan — similar to the mood that prevailed in the country in 2009 when the Army took on the Taliban that had taken control of Swat valley.
This is not the first time the military leadership has spoken out against terrorism. In fact, the Independence Day-eve speech of General Kayani seeking to take ownership of the war on terror was seen as an indication of an all-out war against terrorism. However, nothing has come of it in the month-and-a-half since.
Pakistan has long fought back pressure from the U.S. to launch a military operation in North Waziristan to go after the Haqqani network — said to be responsible for many of the brazen attacks inside Kabul. Pakistan’s contention has been that it cannot afford to open too many fronts against terrorists at the same time as the Army would then be spreading itself too thin. The unsaid but widely believed real reason for the reluctance to take on the Afghan Taliban has been Pakistan’s desire to have a friendly dispensation in Kabul post-2014 and the Haqqani network is regarded as a “strategic asset”.
Meanwhile, four persons including a woman were arrested from Mingora in connection with the attempt to kill Ms. Yousafzai — under intensive care at a military hospital in Rawalpindi. Across the country, prayers and vigils were held for her speedy recovery for the third day in a row. In a related development, 50 clerics proclaimed Taliban’s interpretation of Islam as repugnant to the teachings of Islam.
As the story of Ms. Yousafzai continued to be featured in the American media, the teen found support from pop music diva Madonna. At a concert in Los Angeles, she dedicated her song “Human Nature” to Ms. Yousafzai and revealed the teenager’s name stencilled on her lower back.