Not only will Pakistan have to take on all sorts of Pakistani Taliban, it will also have to end the network of jihadists in provinces like Punjab and Sindh if it really wants to get rid of the Islamist menace.
A disturbing aspect of the current phase of Islamist militancy in Pakistan is that the terrorist acts outside FATA and NWFP are not being staged by ethnic Pashtun elements but by local Punjabi cohorts.
The new ANP-led provincial government in NWFP signed a peace deal with the Islamic militants of Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) led by Maulana Fazlullah, on May 21, 2008. The deal is the most significant initiative taken by the provincial government to end endemic violence that has engulfed the scenic Swat valley since last year and follows another peace deal with Maulana Sufi Mohammad, the father in law of Fazlullah and the founder of TNSM on April 20. Sufi Mohammad had founded TNSM after leaving Jamaat-e-Islami in 1992.
Pakistan today presents the picture of a nation at war with itself. It is not very often that one sees the armed forces of a state pounding its own citizens with helicopter gunships and heavy artillery. The inferno that had been ablaze in South Waziristan and North Waziristan for some time has now engulfed all the seven agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) and the flames from FATA have set almost the entire North West Frontier Province (NWFP) on fire.
As the time for the election draws near, the tribal frontier is getting hotter with each passing day. Suddenly rumour mills are active that the new Army Chief is bypassing Musharraf in his interactions with the Americans and is going to allow them some foothold in Pakistan. Americans are now claiming that the Afghan resistance is on the wane and the “level of violent activity in the eastern provinces is down about 40 per cent.”
The actions of the Pakistani government in North Waziristan during the last one month are indicative of adhocism and adventurism. It was only on February 23 that the Governor of NWFP, Khalil-ur-Rehman, announced that the government had suspended operations in North Waziristan Agency because it believed that tribesmen were capable of restoring peace and normalcy through their own customs and traditions. However just six days later, 41 militants including their Chechen commander were reportedly killed in a raid carried out using helicopter gunships on their hideout in North Waziristan.