By Li Jingchen
ISLAMABAD, May 1 (Xinhua) -- It is the fourth continuous day since
Pakistani security forces launched operations against militants on April 28 in
the country's northwest, the very place where the authorities signed documents
to make peace only half a month ago.
Why did the Pakistani government and the military launch the operations at
this moment? There are both internal and external factors behind the incident,
according to analysts.
In February this year, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the
banned Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), or the Movement for the
Enforcement of Islamic Law, agreed that the Islamic Sharia law would be enforced
in Malakand, a division in the NWFP, if the Taliban there lay down their
weapons. The Malakand division comprises Buner, Dir and Swat and other
On April 13, the National Assembly, the lower house of the Pakistani
parliament, passed a resolution on the peace deal and President Asif Zardair
signed it into law on the same day.
While the United States expressed concerns over the Swat deal, a number of
Taliban militants entered the neighboring Buner district, which is less than 100
km from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
Taliban's movement added more worries to the U.S. side and provided it with
a strong excuse to press Pakistan for immediate action.
"I think the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban
and the extremists," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told legislators in
a hearing in Washington on April 22.
She said that the U.S. was trying to persuade the Pakistani government that
its traditional focus on India as a threat had to shift to Islamic extremists.
A toy bomb incident on April 25 in Lower Dir, in which 12 children were
killed, led to Pakistani security forces' action against suspected militants'
hideouts the following day, killing more than 70 militants.
In a statement, the military stressed that it took the action on the
request of the NWFP provincial government and people of Dir.
At a press conference on April 28, the military announced operations
against militants in Buner.
The U.S. side wasted no time to welcome Pakistan's military operations
against Taliban militants.
"We think that the military operations that are under way in Buner and Dir
districts are exactly the appropriate response to the offensive operations by
the Taliban and other militants over the past few weeks," Pentagon press
secretary Geoff Morrell said on the same day at a news conference in Washington
"We are very much encouraging of those efforts and stand ready to help them
in any which way that we could," he added.
U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said separately that the
offensive was more than a gesture of goodwill by President Zardari.
"I don't think it's a question of goodwill. This is something that's in the
interest of the government of Pakistan," Wood said. "These Taliban and other
extremists have posed an existential threat to Pakistan."
However, the Pakistani military do not agree that the Taliban are posing a
threat to the country. Military Spokesman Major General Athar Abbas insisted
that Pakistan had the best knowledge of the people, the history, the geography
and the culture of the area and had the ability to analyze and evaluate the
"And whatever is the threat, from the eastern border, or internal, the
western border, we have sufficient forces," he said.
As for what result will come from Pakistan's military operations and what
will happen to the controversial Swat peace deal, people have to wait and see.