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Rescuing Waziristan

October 24, 2009

Faryal Leghari

Reports of insurgents using sophisticated weapons including Russian made 14.7 anti-aircraft guns, against helicopters and fixed wing aircraft of the Pakistan air force have surfaced. Apparently it has been fitted on strategic heights in the area to target military aircraft. This anti-aircraft gun along with the 12.7 Russian model has long been in use by the Indian army.

Pakistan has previously raised its concerns pertaining to Indian involvement in Waziristan entailing alleged financial and arms support to the TTP.  Besides, Pakistan had been relaying its concerns to US involving Indian activities in Afghanistan. It is felt that these directed at Pakistan are deliberately ignored by the US, as part of a long-standing policy to maintain some sort of twisted leverage, by playing one against the other. This has led to a bigger trust deficit between Pakistan and US. The perception in Islamabad is that the US has been studiously ignoring its demands that India be restrained from exploiting the ongoing instability in its frontier region.

Whose side is the US on? Though it has been pressuring Pakistan to undertake military operations against Taleban insurgent groups and had strongly opposed peace deals previously brokered with these groups, it does not seem to be supporting Pakistan in the ongoing battle in South Waziristan.
Such a conclusion can easily be dismissed if one relies on the golden nuggets of rhetoric, spewed from the US State and Defense department! But as realpolitik goes, actions speak louder than words. And US actions to help Pakistan at this critical point have so far failed the test.

A massive military operation aptly titled, Operation Rah-e-Nijat (path to purge) involving ground forces, artillery strikes and air power has been launched in Waziristan. Now Waziristan, North and South, border Afghanistan’s eastern provinces of Patika, Khost and Paktia.

In such a scenario, the natural assumption would be that Pakistan would be extended a helping hand by the coalition forces, especially, when Pakistan’s military has been extending the same cooperation in recent coordinated operations, in Helmand and other places. This assumption is not only based on natural reciprocity but is a derivative of standard military logic and the deep military to military cooperation existing between the two sides.

Apparently, the US outposts on the Afghan border parallel to Waziristan have been evacuated. Strange, considering the coalition forces should have boosted troops on their side given the significance of this operation. It is not a localised engagement being carried out in Swat or even other agencies in FATA, such as Bajaur and Mohmand.

This is about striking the epicenter of Taleban insurgency in Pakistan, whose nuisance value for the coalition forces runs very high. Considering the past pressure on Pakistan to target Waziristan — hosting the core group, the Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan — the US seems to have slunk from active involvement in supporting the operation. The implications of such a move at this point allows unhindered access to Taleban/foreign fighters from Afghanistan to aid the TTP in fighting against Pakistan’s armed forces besides trafficking of weapons. An influx of fighters and weapons is the last thing needed at 
this point.

This is probably why General Tariq Majid, the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) urged the UK Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup to seal the Pak-Afghan border to prevent cross-border movement of terrorists and flow of weapons into Pakistan.

Proliferation of smuggled weapons is nothing new in this part of the world. Not only has it been a thriving trade since the days of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, this tradition has been sustained in the following years.

Reports of insurgents using sophisticated weapons including Russian made 14.7 anti-aircraft guns, against helicopters and fixed wing aircraft of the Pakistan air force have surfaced. Apparently it has been fitted on strategic heights in the area to target military aircraft. This anti-aircraft gun along with the 12.7 Russian model has long been in use by the Indian army.

While the insurgents long apprised of the impending operation in the area, may have procured these highly coveted weapons, contention tilts towards possible Indian involvement.

Pakistan has previously raised its concerns pertaining to Indian involvement in Waziristan entailing alleged financial and arms support to the TTP. Besides, Pakistan had been relaying its concerns to US involving Indian activities in Afghanistan. It is felt that these directed at Pakistan are deliberately ignored by the US, as part of a long-standing policy to maintain some sort of twisted leverage, by playing one against the other. This has led to a bigger trust deficit between Pakistan and US. The perception in Islamabad is that the US has been studiously ignoring its demands that India be restrained from exploiting the ongoing instability in its frontier region.

While Pakistan has charged India for fanning unrest and supporting 
nationalist insurgents in Balochistan and vice versa — Delhi holds Pakistan responsible for not doing enough to bring perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice, the ISI for the Indian embassy blast in Kabul and sponsoring dissent in Indian held Kashmir—
both states have not missed any 
opportunity for ‘encouraging and exploiting’ trouble.

This myopic perspective is disturbing. If the objective is to create deeper destabilisation in the region (what that may achieve for any is the bigger question) then each—the US, India and Pakistan—must be accorded full points. However, it may be wiser for all to think beyond short-term tactical victories, that are potentially pushing them towards a bigger fallout. It will eventually backfire on the larger goal of defeating terrorism—affecting all stakeholders.

While presence of foreign fighters in the area including Uzbeks and Arabs is nothing new, their contribution to the current engagement is particularly irksome. Not only do they provide vital human support to the fierce fighters within the TTP ranks, they bring strategic experience from years of fighting in asymmetrical conflicts against well-armed international forces.

The problem with Waziristan is that the Pakistan army is fighting a guerrilla war with conventional forces. It is very likely to turn out to be a protracted engagement.

The decisive point for the military would be to gain local support among the tribes in Waziristan particularly the Mehsud tribe. This is why Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani sent a special message seeking support for the operation while detailing the objective that is to secure the state and oust foreign terrorists from the area.

While curtailing the operation at this point would be detrimental in every respect, efforts to engage the tribes must be top priority.

The military is already doing that to bolster supportive resistance against the insurgents. However, a long-term strategy should look at working out a power sharing formula and regain control of the area from the influence of these groups. The TTP and affiliated groups support base among certain tribes needs to be alienated and rejected by others.

At the same time a reread of history of how the British eventually got Waziri tribesmen to desist from challenging state authority would be useful. Peace was won on the strength of 
understanding and shifting responsibility and authority to the leading tribes with the withdrawal of forces from the area once control was wrested from miscreants.

This should be integrated within 
the strategic doctrine at this time. Eventually, it will be the tribes who will act as guarantors of security of these hinterlands.

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20 comments

  1. If we make decisions without considering Allah as the supreme power we will end up in disaster always.


  2. http://zuhayer.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/defination-of-a-muslim/

    there is nothing to worry about…


    • Why Blame the Indians?

      Pakistan is fast turning into a sham

      I don’t know what makes Pakistan feel that it can YO-YO the way it wants, when its GOVT and the ARMY is a paid for by the US. Every bullet fired in the Pak today is on direct orders from the US.

      So why make a noise when it is going to be unheard and doesn’t make sense

      I think its high time people in Pakistan except the harsh reality

      @Zuhayer

      As for Islam, Allah did’t makes Muslims any different from the Jews, Christians or the Hindus. Every human being born here will perish one day and its not going to be any different for Muslims. So stop all the nonsense


      • Zaban sambhal k…….
        jab koi comment kartey ho to thora soch samajh k comment kia karo …
        you indians dont have brain….
        as for muslims and christians , jews you said my answer is that …. we are different because of this jews, christians, hindus all are combined to kill muslims and finish islam from the world … but it wont happen.. insha-ALLAH.


      • Viali

        Why blame Indians?? Well you stop creating $h!t in our country and we will stop blaming you!

        Pakistan is fighting it’s own fight right now and the ones they are killing are enemies of Pakistan and no one else! We don’t need ‘direct orders’ from US to kill our enemies!

        For you I guess only things like ‘a Pakistani ajmal kasab writing letters in Hindi’ makes sense!

        I think it’s high time even you accept the harsh reality that you have insurgency in 21 states, you can’t control Kashmir for decades and 80% of ur nuclear and missile facilities are in insurgency hit areas! Worry about ur internal mess!

        PS: This article is written by an assistant editor of a non-Pakistani newspaper!


      • laiqs@mi

        Get real guy….. Talk sense.. Don’t throw up just because you have nothing to say and find it hard to accept reality.

        And please get out of the notion that the world is out there to get Muslims …There are close to 55 Muslim nation states today and not one has a problem the size and the magnitude of Pakistan – A Complete Chaos

        @IM

        Yes India does have insurgencies, but they are not a threat to its existence and can handle it internally and moreover its not going out there with a begging bowl on every doorstep asking for alms, which has now become a norm ( beggar) then a exception. Unlike Gen Kiyani – No Indian General reports into Gen Petraus or Admiral Mullen and is tasked every morning

        As for Kashmir, Pakistanis are a self-inflicted lot-of the false propaganda created by the Leaders and the ARMY over the years. We don’t have regions within the state like FATA where the Pak govt writ doesn’t exit.. I doubt if these nomadic areas where ever part of Pakistan. Its only now that the PAk army after receiving US$$ is trying to a get hold on these territories

        As for the writer ….. A Pakistani working for a gulf paper in only going to believe on the state created propagation


      • @viali
        Insurgency not a threat?? Which is why ur PM is stating that fight against naxals is FAILING who occupy 40% of India along with Maoist which is … 20 of the 29 states! Assam and the seven sister state in the north east want separation!

        Gen Kiyani holds ‘MEETING’ he doesn’t report to Gen Petreus or Mullen!

        75% OF NATO supplies go through Pakistan, it can take money for it, even other countries take money for example Turkey! Besides India is the biggest beggar in the world with one of the largest debts on the planet of about $200 billion.

        WE don’t need to create propaganda about Kashmir because we can see for ourselves every other day a woman being raped or someone innocent being killed by Indian army!


  3. Pakistan Zindabad
    Islam Zindabad


  4. Viali

    Yes.We are different in as much as we believe in One God and follow God’s chosen religion.

    Ask Rama Krishna Rao,head of the philosophy deptt.,at Maharani College for Girls,Myssore,who found the Truth,while writing a book on Prophet Mohammed(PBUH).Ask him why we are different.

    As Laiq said above,BAKWAS BAND KARO.


    • One God – whose is it?Shia , Sunnni, Wahabbi’s, Ahmedis, Talibans … and the list can go on ….So stop bullshitting.


      • Shut up will you!!!!!!! Allah is One and Only and sects have their own theologies some political and some with twisted interpretation of the Holy Quran but we Nationalists do not follow the Theologies We Follow the Teachings of the Holy Quran and get our guidence for the Sunna of our Prophet and the ways of the Rightly Guided Khalifas!!!!!! They were not Sunni Shia or Wahabbis and as for Ahmedis they defy the very Essence of The Last Prophethood.


      • well said Tehmina!


  5. Interesting .. Below is the focus on relationship between US & PAk from Pakistan’s Political thinker Dr. Eqbal Ahmed,
    He explains the relationship between Pakistan & US to that of an errant husband and his mistress. When in the mood, the US would overwhelm Pak with loving attention and generous gifts. But the tempestuous relationship was never steady & when Washington’s ardour cooled it would abandon its south asian partner without thought..
    hah hahah


  6. But THe terrorist who had captured in the GHQ attack with name Aqeel . has said .. its hjandiwork betwen Punjabi taliban and Pakistani taliban .. where is other country coming into picture …? I guess we are still in denial mode… Dawn news specially focuses on the this denial and trying to do excellent job of waking up pakistani people


    • What is your point Ayaz? What is the connection between Punjabi Taliban and Pakistani Taliban?

      The belief that these Talibans are aided by Pakistan’s enemies has a lot of weight since these “Talibans” have been supporting Indian interests. I just don’t understand their motives. Why are they fighting Pakistan? Is it simply to take the revenge because Pakistan Army helped US kicked Afghan Taliban out of Afghanistan? Is it to take revenge from Pak Army for attacking Lal Masjid? If it is purely a revenge, then it is insanity and these guys are not following the cause of Islam.

      In one article posted here at PKKH, it is mentioned that they want Sharia established. If this is their true demand, then something can be negotiated with them. They should bring it to Pakistani public’s attention. They should win our hearts and mind.

      Another point to ponder is that if establishment of Islamic State is their goal then it is antithetical to US interests. USA does not want Khilafat to re-emerge. She is busy destryong the current power, let alone allow another one to re-emerge. So don’t these Talibans know that this USA that they are supporting will never allow them to create this Islamic state.


      • Asher, Mr. Ayaz is always in denial mode..for the life of me I cannot understand why he even bothers commenting!


  7. Taliban’s Pakistan
    As the state machinery took its time before launching the operation in Waziristan, the Taliban outflanked it by launching an offensive of their own, bringing the war to the heartland of the country.

    The brazen attack on GHQ, which was quickly followed by three synchronised raids on security establishments in Lahore, is a change in the tactics of the Taliban. After taking on GHQ, the proverbial nerve centre, they have shown a change in the tactics of terror: the militants’ attacks have now metamorphosed into a full-blown urban war.Until recently they would attack military convoys with improvised devices or their frenzied cadres would blow themselves up near a target or in a crowd. Now they have descended from the hills of Waziristan (as the common understanding goes) to extend the theatre of war. It will divide the focus of the armed forces and put many people’s lives at risk.

    http://ahraza.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/taliban-ka-pakistan/


  8. the economics of Viali is too weak.. thats shows Pakistan’s education level ..
    Pakistan’s external foreign debt is around $51B
    http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=19893
    its Forex reserves are around $15B.. even when it rose to 15B from 14.8 B there is big news in Business recorder .
    India’s external debt is arond $200 B but its forex resevers are $290B.. which shows its capacity to repay …its like you are taking loan for home and you have cash more than that loan amount in your bank account..
    pakistan cannot survive without this aid from america .. as its simply do not have resources ( economy, Tax regime) to generate money ..so best option is go for external debt and run the day to day opreations .. rather than spend it on development ..
    In all post 1999 Pak econmy grown becuase Musherruf was getting Dollars for fighting war on terror.. those Dollars disappeared in Army and some on economy.. now its Forex tap is closing .. Pak is standing with Begging bowl in front of china ..
    For Pakistan its simple, till yesterday America was friend becuase they were giving them aid ( “Bhik”).. today america is questioning and putting conditions so now they are bad and enemy..
    now they are moving to next rich guy in row . China agian for begging..


    • @Imran
      LOOLZZZ… I can see your level of “education/intelligence” when you say ‘Viali’ is Pakistani..he/she is INDIAN!!

      India’s GDP stands at $2.55 trillion and its national debt is 78% of its GDP.
      http://asiancorrespondent.com/indianomics/2009/06/09/debt-by-country-map-and-indias-national-debt/

      The war on terror started in 2001 and Pakistan’s economy was already increasing before that! The “billions” of dollars that you talk about given to army…the army generals have stated that they received only ‘500 million dollars’!

      China and Pakistan have been friends for decades, mainly because Pakistan was the first Muslim and fourth non-communist country to acknowledge China’s independence. Pakistan introduced them to world powers and even gave them large parts of it’s area so that they can control Tibet!


      • You rock @IM,

        These Indians are fuming from inside and are incapable of doing any objective analysis except for regurgitating conjectures.

        You nailed this Indian Imran big time. Let him known that the 500 million he is talking about is the amout of money WE CHARGE the US for supporter HER war on terror. Nothing in this world is free. Pakistan IS NOT going to pay out of her pockets.

        I feel that Pakistan Military has undersold herself. One US soldier is paid around $80,000.

        Funny things about these lowly Indians is that they do everything that we do but they have the audactiy to lie in your face. Like they never beg? Then why is it that they have 78% debt? You must have begged someone for this money.

        On another websites two Indian morons were talking to each other as if India has already become a super power eventhough China is WAYYYYY ahead than them. When the world talks about superpower coming out of third world country, they really mean CHINA.

        Why would that not be? China has trillion dollars of cash in her reserve. Not surprisingly, there exists US covert actions to destroy China. US and Israel don’t consider India a threat since India is too INSIGNIFICANT to be considered a threat.



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