Zarb-e-Azb | PRIMER

Jun 2016

Special Series: Reckoning with Zarb-e-Azb 

When did Zarb-e-Azb begin?

Government officials and analysts have framed the siege of Karachi airport by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on June 8th, 2014 as the decisive moment in response to which the Pakistani army launched Zarb-e-Azb. But, there are reasons to think that the operation had begun before the TTP ever attacked the airport.

As early as May 23rd, 2014, there were reports detailing “cordon and search” operations near Miramshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan agency. By late May, reports began filtering out about air bombardment and “limited military action” in Miramshah and Mirali, two of the larger towns in North Waziristan, with some newspapers already beginning to report death tolls and the number of people displaced.

The interior ministry however denied that an operation had begun with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan saying that these actions were simply a “continuation of existing policy.”

Yet, by June 7th, almost eight days before the official announcement of the assault, a 65-member tribal jirga called on the government to stop its unannounced operation. So, in effect, military operations had already ramped up in North Waziristan before the Karachi airport siege to the point where a rather large group of tribal leaders and elders had to meet with the government to demand that it cease its attacks.

Next: What triggered Zarb-e-Azb?

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