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Pakistan’s announcement of a new military operation ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’ is an effort to build a narrative of an energised counterterrorism campaign than a move to launch a fresh military operations.

In other words, the government has given a name to the ongoing counterterror operations across the country.

The question is why, at this stage, the government needed to name the military’s counterterror operations as a major campaign when an assertive and aggressive such campaign has continued for some time now.

The government has already clarified that the announced operation will not lead to any sort of new operation but will only boost the already ongoing efforts in coordination with all segments of the state.

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In this whole debate, the critical element is why has the state not been able to bring together the whole civil-military machine, even though Pakistan has suffered greatly at the hands of militants and has at times even faced tough questions from its international allies and partners.

As part of its counterterrorism campaign, Pakistan has been pursuing the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other extremists for more than a year now.

However, this has not slowed down the pace of attacks.

Three coordinated attacks have been carried out recently against Chinese workers working on the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), indicating a persistent presence of militants in both regions. Additionally, it suggests that these groups may be working together to undermine the interests of the state.

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The timing of the announcement of the new operation is also interesting for several reasons.

For instance, Pakistan is certainly under pressure from investors and other interest groups to improve its security to make good on its argument that the country is secure for foreign investments.

Islamabad seems to have made a pledge to international investors who are as concerned about the security of the country as much as the idea of political stability.

The country may be using the announcement of the new operation against militants to ask for greater support from its allies and investors by wrapping up ongoing counter-terror efforts under a new name and as a means of conveying its commitment to security.

Moreover, Pakistan may be trying to signal that it has gained the political and financial stability it needs to act with full force against extremists by calling the ongoing counter-terrorism efforts a new military campaign.

The post-election scenario is likely to be attributed to these factors, as an elected government has taken office for five years and developments related to the economy and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are also on the horizon.

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In the ongoing debate surrounding a new counterterror operation, the crucial indicator of success will be whether the rebranded and reinvigorated efforts to stem the tide of terror in the country result in visible improvements to security, particularly for international investors.

It is important to note that the international community may express welcome for Pakistan’s new anti-militancy measures, but the truth remains that they will primarily look for data to determine if these actions can truly deliver, or if they are merely another promise.

The announcement of a new military operation by Pakistan has now placed the country in a tricky position. Pakistan must demonstrate to the world that it remains capable of effectively confronting terrorism.

At this stage, the international community may be hesitant to celebrate Pakistan’s announcement, as they will want to witness the tangible results before offering any praise.

Moreover, there will be little willingness to entertain Pakistan’s claims that India or other international forces are funding militancy within the country.

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Going forward, Pakistan has a significant amount of work to do as it promises to collaborate with regional allies, as announced in its latest military campaign to stem the tide of militancy. Among these regional allies, the Afghan Taliban are crucial for Pakistan, with whom the country has struggled to deal effectively on the issue of terrorism.

The time is of the essence, and the announcement of this major counterterror operation should instill a greater sense of urgency into Pakistan’s plans to address this critical challenge.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

Umair Jamal

The writer is Head of the Political Desk at Business Recorder (Digital)

Comments

200 characters
KU Jul 11, 2024 06:37pm
There is no disagreement on eradicating funded terrorism through operation for security of citizens, investors n our brave souls fighting them. Will it put a permanent end to it? Other options?
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zh Jul 17, 2024 09:12pm
So far the new counterterrorism plan is NOT working.
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