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Sources of Major Ongoing Conflicts

Sectarian Strife: The roots of the conflict can be traced to the use of religion by
General Zia -ul- Haq (1977-88) as a tool for regime legitimisation. Devoid of a
democratic constituency, Gen. Zia turned to the right wing Islamic elements for
support. His attempt to create an Islamic polity and society was an attempt to gain
legitimacy. These goals subsequently coalesced with the national security goal of
building close linkages with the Afghan Mujahideen after the Soviet intervention in
Afghanistan in 1979. During the eighties, consequently, a complex network
developed between the Afghan mujahideen, domestic religious groups in Pakistan,
and the Pakistani State, with a generous supply of weapons from the US. The
combination of easy availability of arms and a growing motivated cadre resulted in
the rapid spread of violence from Afghanistan to Pakistan itself. Religious scholars
in Pakistan say militancy among the rival extremist groups intensified with shift
from a broad support of Afghan groups fighting the Soviets to specific support of
hard-line Islamic groups who were supported in the later phase after the Soviet
withdrawal. The training camps established for training Afghan guerrillas
underwent a change. . Establishment of just training centres gave way to growth of
religious schools training students in Islamic ideology.
Pakistan - particularly central and southern Punjab - served as the ground where
young freedom fighters were trained; in Punjab, especially Southern Punjab, there
have been problems because of Siraki language. Therefore this area provided even
recruits for Islamic militancy. Almost the entire leadership of the militant Sunni
outfit, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, is made up of people who fought in Afghanistan.
The conflict within Pakistan began in the 1980s, when a group of Deobandi militants
formed the Anjuman Sipa-Sahaba(ASS) to wage war against the Shia landlords of
the Jhang. This organisation was later rechristened as the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan
(SSP). The Shias formed the Sipah-e-Muhhamad (SMP) to counter the threat from
Sunni militant Groups(1993)
An attempt was made in 1995 by moderate leaders to procure peace between
these violent groups through the Milli Yakjehti Council (MYC), which brought about
a temporary lull in violence. The respite was brief, as the SSP and the SMP failed to
co-operate with the peace effort. However, the SSP’s leadership had joined the
political mainstream, making an overt adherence to violence difficult. The
extremist elements within the SSP, consequently, organised under the leadership
of Riaz Basra to form the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). There are also a number of
other splinter groups engaged in this strife. These splinter groups formed alliances
with other extremists and were supported by a large numbers
of madarsas (religious schools or seminaries) across the country.
In 1957, there were just about 150 such schools functioning in the country. The
number now exceeds 5,500, with nearly 4,500 having come into existence after
1980. Half of these madarsas are in the Punjab. In May 1998, the Federal Cabinet
was informed by the then Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharief, that about
100 madarsas were imparting military training. Press reports, however, suggest
that over 750 madarsas were directly or indirectly connected with sectarian
violence, and 810 of students of various madarsas were wanted in cases of
terrorism. Patterns of retaliatory killings suggest some involvement of the Iranian
establishment in the conflict, in solidarity and support of the Shia minority. Iranian
diplomat Sadiq Ganji was gunned down in Lahore following the assassination of SSP
founder Haq Nawaz Jhangvi in March 1990. Similarly the 1997 assassination of
Jhangvi's successor Zia-ur-Rehman Farooqi and 26 others (killed in a bomb blast in
the Lahore Sessions Court) saw the alleged revenge killing of Iranian diplomat
Muhammad Ali Rahimi and six locals who were killed in an attack on the Iranian
Cultural Centre in Multan.
At the non-governmental level, several attempts have been made to end the
sectarian conflict through the formation of peace councils which have largely failed
due to inflexibility of militant bodies like the LJ which seek to impose their own
brand of Islamic rule in Pakistan. The linkage between the madarsas and the
militants is further established by the fact that most shoot-outs and bombings
originate from or occur at mosques housing these schools. A significant proportion
of those killed in sectarian violence are students in these schools.
The provincial government in Punjab has had to face the main burden in dealing
with this strife. Two major campaigns were initiated to round up suspects since the
problem began. In February 1994, the Manzoor Wattoo government arrested over
200 suspects, but almost all were released on MYC's plea. A fresh initiative was
undertaken by the Shahbaz Sharief administration when an estimated 700 suspects
from all over the province were arrested. The erstwhile Nawaz Sharief government
agreed upon a code of ethics on May 5 with most of the religious and sectarian
groups. But the government failed to rope in the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and the newly
formed SMP, the real actors in the ongoing conflict. The move to call out the
Pakistan Rangers and the Frontier Constabulary and banning pillion-riding once
again were purely administrative steps which failed to yield desirable results. It now
remains to be seen how the military administration deals with the situation.

Ethnic Strife:
The roots of ethnic conflict in Pakistan, primarily concentrated in Karachi and
other urban regions of Sindh, lie in the concentration of mohajirs (refugees)
within a province where a common religion is too weak to build bonds with other
population groups who were injected into the area at the time of Partition.
Refugees from the Indian Punjab have been successfully integrated into Pakistani
Punjab, owing to a common language and culture. (The term ‘mohajir’ refers to
refugees who arrived in Pakistan from the areas that fell within the newly
constituted India, in the aftermath of Partition. It derives its origin from the term
Hijr, the flight of the prophet from Mecca to Medina, a journey that was
undertaken to escape persecution due to religious beliefs). Refugees from other
parts of India, however, did not undergo any comparable process of assimilation
and were initially concentrated in Karachi, though they later moved to other
urban provinces of Sindh, such as Hyderabad and Latifabad, as well. These
refugees spoke Urdu and had a set of cultural and social values different from the
native Sindhis. Unlike the Sindhis, the new mohajir society did not suffer from the
restrictions imposed by a feudal order and hence adapted to modern education.
Being in the forefront of the struggle for Pakistan, they were naturally in a
dominant position and were ardent supporters of Pakistani nationalism, as
opposed to the regional identities professed by the Sindhis, Pathans and Punjabis.
Mohajir dominance in Pakistan’s politics was gradually eroded by the Punjabi
bureaucratic-military clique, and Federal power gradually shifted to Punjab. This
was followed by instances of Sindhi assertiveness, particularly provincial
government initiatives, such as imposition of the Sindhi language in education and
the adoption of the Sindh (Teaching, Promotion and Use of Sindhi Language) Act
in 1972. These actions led to the first violent clashes involving mohajir groups. In
1985, when a mohajir girl was crushed to death under a bus, a fresh round of
violence involving the mohajirs and Pathans began, since the latter were
perceived to control the urban transport business. Subsequent police intervention
led, for the first time, to clashes between the state and mohajir groups, a
common occurrence since then.
Until this time, ethnic clashes in Sindh were marked by animosity between
Mohajirs on the one side and other ethnic minorities (Sindhis, Pathans) on the
other. In 1986, Mohajir Quami Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain provided a
new direction to the ethnic strife. The agenda of MQM has been to get a better
deal for the Mohajirs from the Punjabi centre and from the Sindhi provincial
government, which it sees as oppressive. One of its important demands has been
the change in quota policy which it feels is inimical to Mohajir interests. It has not
been able to wrest substantive concessions despite using coercion, violence and
terror tactics. But some of its demands that Mohajirs be declared as the fifth
nationality have not been well received. It has managed to cut across red tape
and solve some of the housing problems in the city of Karachi. Its support base is
the lower middle class and it has been financed by middle class Mohajirs.
Rather than targeting any specific minority group, the Punjabi dominated state
bodies in Sindh were exclusively targeted by the Mohajirs. After this point, ethnic
strife in Pakistan has largely involved the Mohajirs and state law enforcement
agencies, including the army. As a consequence of disagreement between Afaq
Ahmed and Altaf Hussain (the former being a close confidante of the latter)
ostensibly on the issue of renaming the organisation, the movement split into
two. The new faction which later on came to be identified with its proximity to
the army was called the MQM(H). There have been a series of incidents of
violence between the two factions in the past couple of years. Whenever there
has been a killing, MQM (Altaf ) has often accused its rival organisation of
masterminding the killings.
Several bouts of violence have occurred after 1986, when Altaf Hussain first gave
the call for a movement against the Punjabi dominated state. These include the
reported spate of reprisal killings by drug barons in Karachi, where over one
hundred persons lost their lives and several hundred were injured. Several
connected instances of attacks on Sindhis and Mohajirs sparked riots in 1988,
with Hyderabad bearing the brunt. According to a report, the "streets of
Hyderabad were littered with bodies right from Hirabad to Latifabad". The riots
claimed over 60 dead in just one day, and more than 250 deaths in this phase of
rioting. In a backlash, more than 60 Sindhi speaking people were gunned down in
These killings provoked a massive police operation in the city, where over 4,000
policemen, according to press reports, and two thousand according to official
sources, from all over the province surrounded the Pucca Qila locality and "fired
at the house. This was for the first time in Pakistan's history that an operation
been launched where thousands of people were besieged, and water and electric
supply was disconnected. Appeals were made from mosques and newspapers
offices were flooded with complaints, but nobody could move out as curfew had
been imposed in the city". Failing to curb the protests, the police were removed
and the army was called in. According to the list provided by a medical
superintendent of Bhittai Hospital (Karachi), Dr. Shaiq Ali, 62 dead and 117 injured
had been brought to the hospital. The dead also included women. Dr. Shaiq Ali
was later murdered at his private clinic on Khai Road.
The most tragic off-shoot of the Pacca Qilla operation is that, notwithstanding the
marriage of convenience between the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) and the
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a clear divide had taken place between the
Urdu and Sindhi speaking people. There was only a trickle of internal migrations
before the operation, but the operation triggered a mass exodus of population.
The mohajirs migrated en masse from Qasimabad and the interior of Sindh into
Hyderabad. Similarly, the Sindhis people moved to Qasimabad from Hyderabad
and Latifabad.
While dismissing the government of Benazir Bhutto in 1990, president Ghulam
Ishaq Khan had charged that just in seven months from January to July, 1,187
people had been killed and 2,491 injured in Sindh against 99 killed and 166
injured in the other three provinces of Pakistan. This is indicative of the threat to
stable regimes from unsettled political issues and extremist agendas. Moreover
the ethnic violence has become a feature of the political life of Sindh in particular
where the rural urban divide and MQM's control of the urban constituency has
alienated them form the Sindhis who speak the sindhi language and have
different cultural practices from the settlers in urban Sindh. Efforts to bring about
even a common political agenda in rural Sindh amongst groups demanding
separation has not borne fruit in concrete terms. The socio-economic agenda of
the Jeay Sindh movement which has demanded a separation of Sindh at various
points has been unclear though it does gravitate towards separation.
In Pakistan one can easily say that religious and ethnic organisations representing
their respective communities are increasingly using violent methods including
terrorism and even democratic and legal tools to achieve the ends that they have
set for themselves thereby resulting in increasing incidents of violence and
terrorism the last decade. In the past ten years another important factor in the
internal strife in Pakistan has been the impact of Afghan war in South Asia. Its
ramifications include the growth of various Islamic groups that have been
implicated in the running feuds between the Sunni and Shia organisations, and
the drug Mafia operating in Pakistan which poses a threat to state security in the
long run.

List of Military Operations in

The Pakistan Army was established in 1947, since then it has been involved in
four wars with neighbors India and several border skirmishes with Afghanistan.
The Pakistan Army has had to battle the terrorists within Pakistan for a long
time. After the September 11 attacks in the United States of America, Pakistan
joined hands with the US-led War on Terror and helped the Us forces by
severing ties with the Taliban. There is a long list of military operations in
Pakistan, all of which have been succesful.

In recent years the army has undertaken many joint operations that include
Operation Al-Mizan, Operation Rah-e-Haq, Operation Sher-e-Dil, Operation
Zalzala, Operation Sirat-e-Mustaqeem, Operation Rah-e-Raast, Operation Rah-
e-Nijaat, Operation Koh-e-Sufaid, Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

Operation Al-Mizan (2002-2006)

This was the first major operation of Pakistan Army against the militant groups
working against Pakistan. At that time the Army Chief was General Pervez
Musharraf, who deployed forces in FATA of around 70,000-80,000 men. The
loss security personnel’ was around 1200-1500 soldiers as it was the first major
operation inside the country and the army faced a huge loss due to lack of
information about the methodology of the enemy, their hideouts and barely
know-how of the terrain. Full convoys were targeted by the Taliban militants in
the initial stages causing many casualties. Besides the basic infantry, Special
Force units of the Pakistan Army, the elite SSG (Special Service Group) were
also directly engaged in fighting. This operation comprised of many small
operations too such as Operation Kalosha II, which took place in South
Waziristan. Lack of public and national support at that time created hurdles in
the smooth progress of the operation.

Operation Rah-Haq (November 2007)

In May 2004 clashes erupted between Pakistan Troops and Al- Qaeda and the
other militants joined by local rebels and pro-Taliban forces. The offensive was
poorly coordinated and the Pakistan Army suffered heavy casualties. After a
two-year conflict (2004-2006) The Pakistan Military negotiated a ceasefire with
the tribesmen from the region where they pledged to hunt down Al-Qaeda ,
stop Talibanisation of the region and to stop attacks in Pakistan and
Afghanistan. However, the militants did not keep their word and started to
rebuild and took over Lal Masjid in Islamabad. After a six-month standoff, a
fight erupted in 2007 when the Pakistan Military decided to use force to end the
Lal Masjid threat. Once the operation was over the newly formed Tehrik-i-
Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella group of militants based in the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) vowed revenge and launched a wave of
attacks and suicide bombings in North-West Pakistan and major cities. The
militants expanded their base of operations and moved to the Swat Valley. The
first phase of Operation Rah-e-Haq commenced in November 2007 in
collaboration with the local police against Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-
Mohammadi (TNSM) in the Swat Valley. The militants however gradually
infiltrated into key cities. The second phase began in July 2008 and continued
throughout the year. This operation resulted in the deaths of 36 security
persons, 9 civilians’ and 615 militants. The third was launched in January 2009,
which ended after a peace accord, known as Malakand Accord that was signed
between the Government and TNSM.

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Operation Sher-e-Dil ( September 2008)

The Pakistan Army launched Operation Sher-e-Dil on September 9, 2008 in

Bajaur Agency to target all the militant groups that threatened the security of
Pakistan. By early December over 1000 militants and 63 security personnel had
been killed.

Operation Zalzala (2008-2009)

This operation was launched in South Waziristan Agency in January 2008

against Baitullah Mehsud and his supporters. Around 200,000 locals are
estimated to have been displaced, though it cleared most of SWA and security
forces destroyed over 40,000 houses.

Operation Sirat-e-Mustaqeem (2008)

Commenced in June 2008 but was halted by the Army on July 9, 2008 in Bara
Tehsil, Khyber Agency- FATA. It was launched by Pakistan Army’s 40m infantry
Division. PM Yousuf Raza Gillani’s government ordered the Army against the
Taliban forces in Khyber Agency. The immediate trigger for the operation was
two kidnappings in Peshawar of six women and a group of 16 Christians by the
Islamic group Lashkar-e-Islam. Two militants and one soldier were killed in this
operation. However, the major leader managed to escape to an unknown
location. Soon after the capture of Bara Tehsil the operation was put to a stop.

Operation Rah-e-Rast (May 2009)

In May 2009 an operation in Swat was launched after the accord failed to
ensure peace in the region. Major offensive took place in Mingora in the last
week of May and by the end of the month, Pakistan Army regained its control
over Mingora.

Operation Rah-e-Nijaat ( October 2009)

October 2009 the army launched a combat against militants in South Waziristan
with the help of gunship helicopters and aircraft. The major objective of this
operation was to destroy the militant stronghold in the region.

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Operation Koh-e-Sufaid (July 2011)

July 4, 2011 the Pakistan Army launched another operation against the militants
in Kurram Agency located within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas
(FATA). Operation Koh-e-Sufaid (White Mountain) targeted militants in Kurram
with the principal objective of securing and re-opening Thall Parachinar road
which had been repeatedly under attack by Sunni Militants.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb (2013)

In 2012, the Pakistan Army was able to take control of major towns of the
Malakand Division and many tribal agencies. Only swamp left was North
Waziristan. Even though Chief of General Staff (CGS) and Corps Commanders
gave a nod for the operation COAS General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani didn’t give the
final go. The reason for this was that the general public wasn’t in favor of
military operations and also that the army wasn’t well trained for the major task
and difficult terrain. When General Raheel Sharif succeeded Kayani in November
2013, he gave the final order and by June 2014 the operation was underway.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb was conducted against the following militant groups:

Tehrik-i-Pakistan (TTP), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, East Turkestan
Islamic Movement, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Al-Qaeda, Jundallah and the Haqqani
Network. The military strategy used for this was SEEK-DESTROY-CLEAR-HOLD.
Seek and Destroy component is from the Vietnam War, while Clear and Hold
component is from the Iraq War. Pakistan military combined the two doctrines
as one for the operation to be successful. The way forward for this would be
that the military will seek the target, once found it will be destroyed then the
infrastructure, bodies and weapons would be cleared and the area will be held
both during and after its completion to ensure post operation and infrastructure
rebuilding or rehabilitation doesn’t take place. After one and a half years of
Zarb-e-Azb phenomenal success was achieved. The terrorists’ backbone was
broken and their structure dismantled. Nexus sleeper cells largely disrupted and
with the Intelligence Based Operations (IBOs) the remaining sleeper cells were
busted. 3400 terrorists were killed, 837 hideouts destroyed from where the
activities were being conducted. And another 183 hardcore terrorists killed,
21193 arrested. However this success came with a high price, 488 valiant
officers, men of Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps KPK, Balochistan, Rangers Sindh
sacrificed their lives and 1914 were injured.The result of this was the overall
improved security situation and the terrorist attacks in Pakistan had dropped to
a six-year low since 2008.

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While comparing the first operation to the last, there is a huge learning process
for the Pakistan Military as well. Besides being trained as a force for
conventional warfare, presently the military forces have become well equipped
and trained to fight unconventional warfare effectively. The ground forced are
now well acquainted with the terrain, surrounding areas’ and local tribal
population. The last decade, though witnessed a huge loss of civilians and
military personnel, but was the hardest and most effective training the Pakistan
Army would or could undergo. More sophisticated and precise weapon have
been used by the Pakistan Army in the recent combat missions.

Among all major military operations in Pakistan, Operation Rah-e-Rast and

Zarb-e-Azb have been the most successful in eliminating terrorists. As per
Director Major General Asim Bajwa of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR)
states, ‘Operation Zarb-e-Azb is the biggest and most well-co-ordinated
operation ever conducted against terrorists.’ And that it is a ‘war of survival’
hence this operation holds greater significance among all the operations
conducted so far.