Friday, July 19, 2024
HomeNews ReportsChina’s vassal state? Pakistan launches ‘Operation Azm-e-Istehkam’ military operation on Beijing’s ‘orders’ after terror...

China’s vassal state? Pakistan launches ‘Operation Azm-e-Istehkam’ military operation on Beijing’s ‘orders’ after terror attacks on Chinese nationals

During a meeting held recently, China had asked Pakistan to launch a military operation in Balochistan and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region to “protect Chinese interests”, along the lines of the infamous ‘Operation Zarb-e-Azb’.

In a glaring example of compromising on ‘sovereign affairs and decisions’ for its nation-state, Pakistan has launched a new ‘anti-terror operation’, seemingly acting on Beijing’s dictation. The military operation has been dubbed ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’ and it has the stated aim of eliminating terrorism across the country. 

The Apex Committee of National Action Plan, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, held a meeting on Sunday (22nd June) and decided to launch Operation ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’. Pakistani media reported that through this operation the security forces will try to eliminate extremism and terrorism from the Islamic country.

While it is claimed that the operation will be launched across the country, its focus is expected to be especially on Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Most of the attacks in Pakistan happen in this region. According to the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) Q1 2024 Security Report, at least 92% of all fatalities and 86% of attacks, including those related to terrorism and security forces operations, were recorded in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces in the first quarter of 2024, a Pakistani outlet reported.

It is pertinent to note that Baloch rebels have attacked many Chinese projects inside Pakistan. As a result, China has suffered the loss of life and property. Many of the projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in this area have been closed or adversely affected because of Baloch insurgents. Baloch rebels see these Chinese projects as an occupation of their land.

Consequently, following the death of its five Chinese Engineers in an attack in March this year and similar casualties in earlier attacks, China mounted pressure on Pakistan to act as per its dictation to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals.

Incidentally, according to Pakistani media, the National Action Plan committee chaired by the Pakistani PM also reviewed measures to ensure foolproof security for Chinese nationals in Pakistan. Following the prime minister’s approval, new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were also issued to enhance the security framework for Chinese citizens in the country.

Pakistan succumbs to Chinese pressure, acts on Beijing’s dictation to launch military operation to protect ‘Chinese interests’

Apparently, the new military operation is in line with the “dictation of the Chinese government”. Notably, Pakistan launched the military operation weeks after OpIndia had reported that China was mounting immense pressure on economically strained Pakistan to accept its several humiliating demands. 

Recently, a high-level meeting was held between China and its ‘vassal state’-Pakistan, regarding the safety of Chinese citizens in the Islamic nation. During the meeting, China had asked Pakistan to launch a military operation in Balochistan and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region to “protect Chinese interests”, along the lines of the infamous ‘Operation Zarb-e-Azb’. But the details of it were tightly held and were blackened out by Pakistani media outlets. However, OpIndia highlighted how the details shared in a retracted report in Business Recorder were mentioned in different phrasing in Pakistan and China. It was then said that Pakistan had rejected the demand for a military operation. 

But now after the announcement of a new “anti-terror” operation, there is a growing concern that a renewed purge of the Baloch people may take place as had previously taken place during Operation Zarb-e-Azb. 

Operation Zarb-e-Azb was about subjugating locals and carrying out extra-judicial killings of regional ethnic-nationals

The operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched on 15th June 2014 in the North Waziristan area along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. While Pakistan claimed that it was a counter-terror operation, several questions were raised about its effectiveness and exacerbating Human suffering in the region including increased allegations of extra-judicial killings, forced displacements, and allowing pro-Pakistani Jihadi groups to flourish.  

According to German outlet DW, Aqil Shah, a Pakistani expert and the Wick Cary Assistant Professor of International Affairs at the University of Oklahoma, had said that there was a fundamental contradiction in the Pakistani military’s counter-terrorism approach. Shah pointed out that while the army goes after the terrorists who carried out attacks in Pakistan, it patronised those who attack its enemies. 

Speaking with DW, Shah said, “The army has fought hostile factions of the TTP, but it continues to use other militant groups as proxies against archrival India.” He cited the example of the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban, which helped Pakistan maintain its influence over Afghanistan, as well as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which continues to plan and carry out terror attacks against India.

The same was reiterated by US Secretary of State John Kerry during his India visit. In an address in New Delhi, Kerry said, “It is clear that Pakistan has work to do in order to push harder against its indigenous groups that are engaged in extremist terrorist activities.” 

He added, “They must work with us to help clear the sanctuaries of bad actors who are affecting not only relations between Pakistan and India but also our ability to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan.” 

A US-based expert on political Islam, Arif Jamal said that the Zarb-e-Azb military operation was never launched to target home-grown jihadists. 

Jamal told DW, “Actually, it was aimed at weakening political parties and not eliminating terrorists. Some of the top global terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen’s Yusuf Shah are openly leading public rallies, recruiting jihadists, and fundraising.”

Prominent Pakistani rights activist Asma Jahangir accused the Pakistani army of running a smear campaign against politicians. It was also seen as an effort to weaken the civilian government in the country by doing extensive PR of the Pakistani military to protect the country from terrorists. 

Additionally, Pashtuns and Baloch nationals witnessed repressive measures (such as extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, discrimination, subjugation of non-Punjabi ethnicities, and surveillance) by the country’s security forces under such programs. 

Nonetheless, the new anti-terrorism operation has been dubbed a new name to distance itself from the ‘ineffectiveness’ and notoriety of Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

Join OpIndia's official WhatsApp channel

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Paurush Gupta
Paurush Gupta
Proud Bhartiya, Hindu, Karma believer. Accidental Journalist who loves to read and write. Keen observer of National Politics and Geopolitics. Cinephile.

Related Articles

Trending now

Recently Popular

- Advertisement -