ISLAMABAD — Ahead of a trip to Washington, Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif has sounded the alarm over the lack of follow-up by the government to secure hard-won benefits from the military's operation against the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). work in the aftermath of counterinsurgency efforts by the civilian government, raising fears that hard won benefits from the military's operation against the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) could be squandered.
Sharif was speaking on Monday during a corps Commanders Conference at Army HQ in Rawalpindi. A statement by the military's Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) media branch said Sharif "underlined the need for matching/complementary governance initiatives for long-term gains of operation and enduring peace across the country. Progress of National Action Plan’s implementation, finalization of [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] reforms, and concluding all ongoing [joint investigation teams] at priority, were highlighted as issues, which could undermine the effects of operations."
The National Action Plan (NAP) is a 20-point endeavor put in place by the government in January after the December 2014 TTP attack on a school in Peshawar that saw 145 killed (132 children) and 114 injured.
Among other measures it aimed to provide a holistic approach to combating terrorism by implementing a series of criminal justice and financial reforms allowing for the curtailment of hate speech and organizations, raising new counterterrorism units, and improving the access to communications traffic available to giving the intelligence services. added access to communications traffic.
However, measures to clamp down on banned organizations, and hate speech and terrorism financing, and the planned reform of religious schools, /madrassas have not met with the desired progress.
Completing It is believed completion of investigations into terrorism cases by the Joint Investigation Teams (JIT) and much-needed improvements in governance in cleared areas of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are cause for particular concern, analysts said.
Under these circumstances Claude Rakisits, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center, says Gen Sharif's open concern is unsurprising.
"It is a well-known fact in the counterterrorism business that, unless civilian administrators immediately implement governance plans, such as rebuilding destroyed schools, hospitals and other social services at the end of a military operation, all the hard-won gains made by the military can very quickly disappear," he said.
Adding, "While it is very important to diminish the terrorist and insurgence threat by degrading the fighters' military capability, it is probably just as important, if not more, to deal with the civilian population which has to return to those areas which have been devastated by the fighting."
"Accordingly, the basic societal needs of the general population, which has been fundamentally traumatized, displaced and probably physically hurt, must be met quickly, effectively and with compassion. Not to do so would lead to an already dissatisfied population possibly longing for the days before the military operations."
But in this realm, the military has little influence, Rakisits said. does not believe the military can do anything about this however.
Very familiar with the areas where the anti-TTP operations are ongoing, analyst, author, and former Australian defense attache Brian Cloughley agrees the military is limited in what it can do, but highlights the issue of religious schools.
"The Army can't be blamed for being frustrated over the failure to get tough about madrassas," he said.
"It's in some of these that viciously extremist clergy — or what passes for clergy — pass on their warped views about what religion requires. They have enormous influence, and the government knows this, but [Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif] is scared to take action."
He believes the prime minister fears a repetition of the bloody 2007 operation to clear the Red Mosque in the heart of Islamabad of terrorists, after which there was a massive upswing in terrorist attacks.
But Though Cloughley thinks, "This would be no bad thing, in fact, as it would rally much of the population," he said.
He also believes an additional "main failure is the inability [or unwillingness] to install civilian administrations in areas from which extremists have been removed."
"It is scandalous that this has not yet been effected in Swat, for example, and the Army sees a rerun in the 'Waziristans' and elsewhere in FATA, when, after suffering hundreds of soldiers killed and thousands wounded, they succeed in eliminating the insurgents," he said.
He says The military is "happy enough to build roads and bridges, or even administer social affairs, for a short time, but consider it is the job of the central government to select, train and support civilians for civilian jobs."
Though the military cannot do anything much about the situation, however, Rakisits says, Gen Sharif publicly voicing his concern sends a signal to the general population "that the military will have fulfilled its side of the bargain and if things go bad again on the terrorist front it will be because the civilians will have dropped the ball on their side of the court."
In many ways, he said, He believes the "in many ways" Gen Sharif "is right to prepare the population for such an eventuality" and worries that his public comments "must mean that there is a very strong possibility that this scenario could eventuate."
He does not think Gen Sharif has anything to lose by voicing his concerns in such a manner, but adds there may be another audience.
"Given his military success on the ground, he's probably the most popular man in Pakistan; he's a hero in the eyes of thousands. Moreover, as he will be visiting Washington very soon, it doesn't hurt to prepare the diplomatic groundwork before his meeting with his American counterparts."
"Don't forget, he does have a shopping list of military hardware he would like the Obama administration to agree to during his stay. So the better the military image, the higher the chances of a successful visit on all fronts."
Due to Gen Sharif moving against the Taliban, Mansoor Ahmed, Stanton nuclear security junior faculty fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center and expert on Pakistan's nuclear deterrent, and delivery systems, says he will be well received in Washington.
However, he says the US side is likely to want to "discuss Pakistan's tactical nuclear weapon program and evolving force posture, in addition to India's involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan."