2/Lt Moid, 21, became the 6,257th personnel of the armed forces to have laid down his life defending his motherland. While all acknowledge the meritorious sacrifices of our LEAs, many are critical over the frequent occurrence of attacks. They question the claims of successes made by the military. While one must concede that there are grave loopholes in the country’s counterterrorism drive, it is equally important to understand this war and the enemy in their truest sense.Identification of friends and foes is very important in war planning. Preparing to counter the designs of the enemy involves studying your own capabilities and those of it. But then there is an old military adage that every plan meets that of the enemy, which means that Sun Tzu’s advice of knowing the enemy holds the greatest value. This is precisely what the state of Pakistan has to do. Like the nature of war, the outlook and anatomy of the enemy has changed. In order to win the war, the opponent must be carefully studied. The enemy is very different from the one that Pakistan confronted in the conventional wars and battles it fought previously. The forces were in the eastern theater. Their strength was known and hence planning campaigns was relatively easy.Conventional forces are deployed in locations on the forward defended localities; their numbers, Order of Battle (Orbat) and types of weapons are collected through intelligence. Hence, the armed forces are in a position to plan accordingly. The main job of militaries around the world in peace time is to prepare for war. They do that through intense training courses and exercises. War may seem evident by observing the movements of armies or unusual flights by the air forces. Militaries know what to defend and where to attack. Time and space become important principles in conventional engagements. Most importantly, the enemy can be easily discerned, isolated and targeted.Pakistan has not engaged with its traditional adversary India in a battle since the Low-Intensity-Conflict of Kargil. Yet, it is fighting a war in its own territory since the past 15 years. But this war is very different, and so is the enemy. Analyses which equate our numerical superiority, fire power and the possession of sophisticated weaponry with the occurrence of terrorist attacks are quite unreasonable. This enemy can be subdued but cannot be eliminated by kinetic operations aloneMilitants wreaking havoc in the country are very different from soldiers of a conventional army, but are quite similar to the people they are fighting against: citizens. They are neither deployed in a particular place nor do they have defense mechanisms per se because their strength lies in changing locations, methods and appearances.The military, by applying all its might can neutralise them partially by carrying out CTMILOPS and clear areas. Zarb-e-Azb and operations in Swat for that matter were undertaken to evict militants from their strongholds and sanctuaries. It is creditworthy that the operations were very successful, and this can be substantiated by a great decrease in the number of terrorist attacks. However, attacks do take place and result in casualties, despondency and terror.Thus, it becomes imperative to consider a few issues that security agencies face in this irregular and asymmetric war. Firstly, the attackers are infested with an idea which makes them hate the state to an extent that they ready themselves to die. This leads to another problem. With no exit plan, the attackers enter the fray knowing very well that they would be killed. Hence, shooting down assailants in a firefight may not be a cost for the enemy. They have to be taken down before they cause shock and awe; killing them after they have achieved their tactical and strategic aims will have no effect on non-state actors. Secondly, waging a war against the state has become less costly for challengers of the state writ. It takes little effort and resources to convert a rookie into a mobile time bomb. However, the state will have to incur a lot of cost in curbing that indoctrinated mind. Moreover, the tendency of the state to succumb to pressure from hardliners, makes it easier for miscreants to muster support.Therefore, analyses which equate our numerical superiority, fire power and the possession of sophisticated weaponry with the occurrence of terrorists’ attacks are quite unreasonable. This enemy can be subdued but cannot be eliminated by kinetic operations alone.Insurgents do not see location as their center of gravity. Instead, they elicit their strength from ideas, leadership and handlers. As mentioned before, it is important to deny them the ability to spread terror in the country. The war will become costlier for them if their supporting elements, in all forms and manifestations are targeted indiscriminately.Military operations are an important cog in Pakistan’s counter terrorism efforts. However, the lack of focus on the non-kinetic aspects will lead to many unfortunate incidents here and there. Also, debacles such as those in Faizabad will always leave the state at a disadvantage and potential militants with the means to swell the ranks of the enemies.The state must ensure that state actors must gain the upper hand. The spite for the state can be greatly lessened if the state has something better to offer. In the larger scheme of things, the government has to engage the citizens of Pakistan: they must be made ultimate beneficiaries of a peaceful country. The more this is done, the less lucrative the idea to break the fabrics of state will become. The idea which cajoles the ranks of militants will become less sellable.The war in Pakistan is far from over. If the state fails to focus on the non-military aspects of this war, then success in battles would not translate into a final victory in war.The writer is a research analyst and sub-editor at the Global Village SpacePublished in Daily Times, December 13th 2017.