Military operations work. Where they are meant to recover territory, they do. Swat is steady and North Waziristan no more terror central.
Where operations are meant to deny free movement to militants, they do. Bajaur, Mohmand, South Waziristan — none of them truly normal, but a long way removed from a decade ago.
Military operations don’t work. In none — zero — of the areas in which the military has gone in has the military been able to leave. Drawdowns, adjustments, tweaks to the mission — but nowhere an exit.
That’s fine. It’s a long war. We can’t very well not fight it.
Zarb-i-Azb was a transition from pure counterinsurgency to more complicated counterterrorism. Because North Waziristan was different — both a terror bastion and a hub from which Pakistan proper could be penetrated.
Look up a map. NWA to Lakki, Tank and D.I. Khan — and then all of Pakistan opens up: central and north Punjab and the triangle where Sindh, Balochistan and south Punjab meet.
It was terror’s dream. Dismantling the NWA hub and spokes took about two years — wrapped up in the sound of jets pounding NWA and the jargon of intelligence-based operations.
Zarb-i-Azb was the end of the plan. From Kayani and Swat and South Waziristan, the outline of the plan had been evident.
Hesitatingly-methodically, like so much else here, the plan was executed. Sweep up and sweep down the map until you’re left with a concentration of militants in North Waziristan.
Then smash them there and follow that up breaking the spokes that reached out into the provinces and the cities.
It was roughly a 10-year plan, from the early days of Kayani to the last of Raheel.