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Rustam Shah Mohmand

The Making of History

History was in the making on the afternoon of Friday Nov 14 2014. Throwing aside diplomatic norms, Ashraf Ghani on his first State visit to Pakistan after being sworn in as Afghanistan’s President, visited GHQ immediately after landing at Islamabad. Former Pakistani Ambassador to Kabul Rustam Shah Mohmand commented that a foreign Head of State heading straight towards a military HQ on arrival carries a lot more than ceremonial importance, “the Afghan President means business, he knows where the real power rests”. He does indeed!

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A CRUCIAL PHASE

Better late than never, the much awaited assault on North Waziristan has begun, 75 days later than it should have. To quote my article, “Non-stop” of Mar 6, 2014, “The precision strikes of the PAF disrupted the TTP’s administrative and operational deployment. More importantly, ‘actionable intelligence’ was available for these to be carried out, that knowledge is bound to have made the TTP nervous. No collateral damage was reported, confirming these targets were pure militant bases. TTP badly needs time and space to regroup after suffering the PAF’s precision strikes and re-locate its hideouts to safer havens. The “snowline” at 8000 ft is preventing the militants from leaving the valleys and dispersing into the mountains before May. With aircraft/drones overhead this is not easy”, unquote.

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A Window of Opportunity

The TTP has been insisting till very recently that they represented all the groups committing terror in Pakistan. Only when the terrorist acts continued unabated after the negotiations started that the TTP (and their vocal sympathizers) changed tack and started distancing themselves from the sporadic violence. Even then only proforma regret was expressed. It took over a month for Maulana Samiul Haq to deny ever hearing of “Ahrar ul Hind”. There is certainly an indirect link and even worse, tacit encouragement.

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