THE NATION newspaper in its editorial stated that the suicide attack that claimed the lives of five security personnel in North Waziristan signals the end of a ceasefire declared by local militants a couple of months ago. The proximity of the Khajoori checkpost where the incident took place to the site where Al-Qaeda operative Abul Laith Al Libi was killed early this week by a missile fired from a drone indicates a possible connection between the two. The militants were maintaining a ceasefire as they were conducting indirect talks with the government for the revival of the September 2006 peace accord. Even after the formation of a joint command of Pakistani Taliban under Baitullah Mehsud, North Waziristan had remained calm.
The attack near Mirali indicates it might not remain so. In that case security forces would be engaged in both parts of Waziristan.
Experience over the last five years should have convinced the government that reliance on military operations is a highly costly exercise, which is not likely to succeed. Instead of bringing peace, it has led to a fratricidal war with no end in sight. Despite half-hearted acknowledgements that it was essential to address the root causes of militancy, the government, prodded by Washington, has sought a military solution. Adding fuel to the fire are irresponsible US military interventions. The latest incident killed Al-Libi and a number of others.
Earlier, similar strikes had eliminated Egyptian militant leader Hamza Rabia and caused scores of deaths of tribesmen, creating a furore all over the country. While US officials including Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Fallon have congratulated themselves on the killing, they remain unconcerned about the negative impact of US interventions on public opinion in Pakistan. Killing of militant figures causes only a temporary setback to their organisations as others soon fill the gap. But actions of the sort by foreign agencies inside Pakistan cause great resentment as they are seen to be an infringement of national sovereignty.
Reliance on force has led to the expansion of the security forces' area of operations from Waziristan to Swat to Darra Adamkhel. While the Army gradually gets bogged down in the tribal areas, people all over the country feel insecure on account of the increase in suicide attacks. There is a need under the circumstances to tell Washington to stop its military interventions inside Pakistan. Islamabad should be left to resolve the issue through a policy giving priority to tried and tested tribal methods of conflict resolution within a timeframe of its own choice.