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Pakistan Military Makes A Stand

January 15, 2010

Syed Saleem Shahzad

A senior Pakistani security official told Asia Times Online on the condition of anonymity that Pakistan was also reluctant to undertake a full operation in North Waziristan because that region was not a main sanctuary for the Taliban, as is South Waziristan. The official said that the Americans were therefore told that Pakistan’s participation would be limited to the elimination of al-Qaeda and its affiliate groups. At the same time, he hinted at a possible role for Pakistan in facilitating negotiations with the Afghan Taliban.

The dispute over the level of Pakistan’s involvement caused bad blood on both sides. At one point, the Pakistani military establishment clamped down on the many American defense contractors in the country, and even American diplomats were forced to tangle with red tape, so much so that the US ambassador, Anne W Patterson, made a public protest.

ISLAMABAD – After several months of backroom wheeling and dealing between the United States and the top brass in the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi, Washington has expressed its full trust in Pakistan’s military leadership and its apparatus, including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which in turn is preparing to fight the next phase in the South Asia war theater.

This will focus on the hunt for high-profile al-Qaeda targets in the Shawal and Datta Khel areas of Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area, where it is believed Osama bin Laden’s deputy, Dr Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and the shura (council) of al-Qaeda are hiding. Over the past few weeks, the US has stepped up drone attacks in the region.

United States Senator Joe Lieberman, who recently visited Pakistan, confirmed on Sun! day that the Pakistani army “is on the move” and that there is the “possibility the US will see activity in that volatile northern region [North Waziristan]”. Lieberman met with Pakistan’s military chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani.

In the latest drone attack early on Thursday morning, two missile strikes were reported to have killed 10 suspected militants in a compound in the Pasalkot area of North Waziristan. Several days ago, the US said it had killed 12 people at a suspected Talibantraining center about 30 kilometers west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan.

In the latter stages of last year, the Pakistan military waged a months-long offensive in South Waziristan against the PakistaniTaliban, with some success. The operation in N! orth Waziristan, however, will concentrate solely on al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

This understanding was reached after some tricky negotiations. The US initially wanted a broader Pakistani campaign, even suggesting that if Pakistan did not cooperate, it would send in its own special forces for ground assaults and mount daily drone strikes inside North Waziristan.

Pakistan argued that its military was stretched as its forces were already committed in Swat, South Waziristan and the agencies of Mohmand, Bajaur and Khyber.

A senior Pakistani security official told Asia Times Online on the condition of anonymity that Pakistan was also reluctant to undertake a full operation in North Waziristan because that region was not a main sanctuary for the Taliban, as is South Waziristan. The official said that the Americans were therefore told that Pakistan’s participation would be limited to the elimination of al-Qaeda and its affiliate groups. At the same time, he hinted at a possible role for Pakistan in facilitating negotiations with the Afghan Taliban.

The recent deadly suicide attack on a US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in Khost province in Afghanistan was plotted by al-Qaeda in North Waziristan. (See US spies walked into al-Qaeda’s trap Asia Times Online, January 5, 2009.)

The dispute over the level of Pakistan’s involvement caused bad blood on both sides. At one point, the Pakistani militaryestablishment clamped down on the many American defense contractors in the country, and even American diplomats were forced to tangle with red tape, so much so that the US ambassador, Anne W Patterson, made a public protest.

Nonetheless, this proved to be just another episode in the love-hate relationship between the two allies who both desperately need one another. As a result, ! communication began at new levels. Sources privy to the military establishment say that a major turnaround was the visit late last year of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Islamabad.

Washington conceded that the government of President Asif Ali Zardari had a “credibility deficit” and the only option was to rely on the Pakistan army. The visit of Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, in the second week of December was also a milestone. He returned to Washington and lobbied in favor of the US dealing directly with Kiani.

There followed a string of visits by American military officials and senators, including that of Lieberman, who confirmed that the Pakistan army was the only hope in tackling the troubles in South Asia.

One of the consequences of this is that Washington has informed Islamabad that the term of the director general of the ISI, Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, should be extended. He is due to retire in March. A few months later, Kiani is due to step down, and if Pasha is not reappointed, Pasha will be the next chief of army staff by virtue of his seniority.

Understandably, Zardari’s government initially reacted badly to being snubbed – and dictated to – by the US. A senior member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), barrister Kamal Azfar, said in a statement that both the CIA and the Pakistani militaryheadquarters aimed to derail democracy in the country. Then throughout the month of December, Zardari and cabinet members spoke out against the military establishment.

The military hit back, and under its pressure Zardari surprised everybody by giving up the chairmanship of the National Command Authority, which controls the country’s nuclear weapons. It is now firmly under the military’s wing.

On December 29, on the second anniversary of the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, Zardari delivered an inflammatory speech against the military, taking aback even members of his PPP.

Frantic meetings followed between Zardari and go-betweens for the military, resulting eventually in an understanding that the president would take briefs from the army chief on all issues and then speak accordingly.

The military has effectively put Zardari in his place, just as it has got its way with the US over North Waziristan: Washington andthe Pakistani civilian government have no option but to follow the game accordingly.

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39 comments

  1. disengage pakistan army, disengage from this war.


  2. Pakistan Army should STOP HELPING Enemies of Pakistan and Islam.


    • IF THIS WAS ANY OTHER COUNTRY THAT WAS BEING BOMBED
      BY THESE DRONES IT WOULD BE A DECLARATION OF WAR
      BY NUJAT


  3. Pakistan Military Makes A Stand ???? against whom, Islam and Muslims??? They should make a stand against American Drones and Blackwater Terrorists in Pakistan.


    • I HAVE HEARD ALL THIS BEFORE STOP FOOLING THE PAKISTANI MASSES AND START DOING YOUR DUTY BY SHOOTING THESE DRONES DOWN THAT ARE KILLING INNOCENT CIVILLIANS AND VIOLATING PAKISTANI TERRITORIAL INTEGRATY ALL THIS TAKING OF MAKING A STAND IS JUST A SIDE SHOW
      BY NUJAT


  4. Yaara i don’t understand why Pak Army have been silence against these dogs!

    Shoot down the drones!!! if not now so when?


    • yaara i think the pak army in reality are cowards
      only good at killing and torturing its own people
      by nujat a pakistani


  5. “The military has effectively put Zardari in his place, just as it has got its way with the US over North Waziristan: Washington and the Pakistani civilian government have no option but to follow the game accordingly”

    – is the author trying to suggest that the Pakistani army has both the Americans and the Civilian Govt under their thumb… ? If he thinks that the Americans can be intimidated by a bunch of Pakistani men in uniform, then he is halucinating … !

    Pakistani top brass did not sell their loyalties, they sold the entire nation, not today but many decades ago…. ! They did so, not to appease the US, but to seek economic and military support to fight India.

    The US preferred to deal with Kiani directly, because of what Dr Ayesha Siddiqa has described in her recent article as the all powerful “establishment” in Pakistan.

    The whole article suggests to what extent the Americans now call the shots in Pakistans internal affairs. The Pakistani army will now move into North Waziristan, not because they are willing, but because their balls are in Uncle Sam’s grip … !


    • I think ur wrong. America cannot win this war without Pak Army/ISI help and that is what American establishment has finally realised. And this is what the writer is trying to convey. So I think all is going according to the way it should go.


      • america is not interested in winning this war, because this isn’t a war at all. this is a crusade and it ends for them when pakistan finishes, followed by all muslims states followed by making of greater israel. its time pakistans and muslims understand and realize that. they’re not fools to come barging into a region to make it a war and win it. for god sake, wake up, erik prince, owner of blackwater, has said that he considers himself a christian crusader bestowed with the responsibility to eliminate muslims off the face of earth. they want to make you think its a war they wana win, no they dont. they know what they are doing. and they dont give a darn what happens in afghanistan.


    • i totaly agree with your comments neal123


      • Gud comment shumayel….
        I completely agree with you.


    • @neel123…

      dude, I see you obsession with all things to do with Pakistan drags you from PTH to the street here as well….

      your drivel and banal bigotry on display and derided at PTH will find a much more welcome home here..Im glad you have found your own age group to play with!


  6. Going into North Waziristan would be disastrous as it would only overstretch the armed forces further. I thought it was established that Al Qaeda was a project of the CIA.

    The army needs to stop dealing with the United States as their two faced and their foreign policy remains to overtly show they “care” about the terrorism problem in Pakistan or about Pakistan while covertly they continue to destabilize Pakistan in coordination with other agencies such as Mossad and RAW.

    This would give India a good opportunity to try and infiltrate from the east.

    The following statement: –
    “The military has effectively put Zardari in his place, just as it has got its way with the US over North Waziristan: Washington andthe Pakistani civilian government have no option but to follow the game accordingly.”

    is a huge underestimation of our puppet government and the US, both of which have a different game plan altogether, which of course the army is aware of. They are not going to follow the game accordingly as this past 2 years has shown us especially.

    I suggest the Pakistani army takes a real stand against drone strikes and stops NATO supplies, the red line needs to be drawn.


    • pakistan may or not may not engage in north waziristan thats not the question. whats important is that pakistan disengages from this war. pakistan army is capable enuff to pull off north waziristan also. and they are quite adept at it. saudia has recently started operations against yemen taking encouragement from pakistans COIN operations. gen stanley mcChrystal on behlaf of usa recently formally requested the pakistani army to train their forces for COIN operations because they are obviously very bedazzled with the skill pakistan has fought. check the soldier to officer casualty ratio in these operations and you’ll be stunned.


      • You don’t get it do you, India is prepared to go to war. Its built new bunkers in occupied Kashmir, one over a Muslim graveyard in recent weeks and has stationed its artillery since last october as well as other arsenal including jets in attack positions. An army doesn’t move its resources unless it intends to use it.

        Lol, Saudi Arabia is killing civilians, a cowardly military which is using advanced weaponry against unarmed civilians because they happen to be shia. We need to focus on our borders now and kicking out the likes of blackwater/Xe as well as other private defense contractors that the Pakistani interior ministry has allowed in, we can’t only go after what the US demands us of and in this case its North Waziristan. This could provoke a civil war like situation if the Northern tribes unite against the Pakistani army.

        The drones have incited anger and resentment because despite the fact Pakistan has one of the best airforce in the world, it hasn’t shot down a single drone in recent time. The US are playing their game well, first incite hatred of the US and then plead for the Pakistani army to destroy some US backed enemy which in the end gives the local people the impression that the army acts on the whims of the US.

        I doubt, the stats that you recommended me to read will impress the tribal people who are being killed indiscriminately by drones. We need to draw the line NOW.


      • to correct my post, going into north Waziristan will make our eastern border vulnerable to infiltration and India is very well aware of that.

        The US is using its drones to ensure the tribals become provoked into defending themselves and for the Pakistani army when the US TELLS us too is a big mistake.

        It should be on our own terms. We can’t disengage from this war because its being imposed on us. We’re passed that stage. We need to take some concrete steps that makes the enemy on all sides including the internal ones back off .


      • 1. please don’t drag in the cliched shia-sunni terms to give it a fasadi/extremist shade. its time we rise above these petty fasadi talks and start gathering under a united platform.

        2. respect all muslim countries including your own. this means bring forward their good deeds and don’t proliferate them or their wrong doings just because its something you read somewhere.

        3. pakistan air force is indeed the best air force in the world but please understand that PAF cannot make the decision of shooting down a drone all by itself. there has to be harmony and agreement on decisions. you have a democratic government ruling above your armed forces. you, me and many other may not like the gov but you’re talking about running a country and a decision for a country not a household matter of he-took-my-cake. PAF has many times stated that they are capable of bringing down the drones, but the decision is for the gov to make. technically speaking, drones are toys when compared to any fighter jets or even a handheld antiaircraft missile.

        4. i do get it perfectly what india is upto and their preparations. so i’d defunct your argument on that.

        5. what you and all nations should as a patriotic pakistanis and a muslim appreciate is that pakistan army has set examples of COIN operations in the world. you may not discern or appreciate that but it has bedazzled international forces around the world. in 65, the soldier to officer casualty ratio was 1 to 16, this time it was 1 to 7, why? because pakistani officers set examples by leading from the front. this is unprecedented bravery. please dont imply a slightest bit disappreciating pakistan armed forces. they have given their lives at every front whenever the nation and world has called them in kashmir, pakistan, bosnia, palestine, egypt, syria, turkey, srilanka and much more. those will be inglorious who are not IMPRESSED by the sacrifices of pakistan armed forces.

        6. disengaging from this war is very much possible. not like, we’ve bought this war or someone has our soldiers to keep fighting forever. it not a matter of technology or anything, its only a matter of decision. there will be hardships but there are times when nations have to rise and make hard decisions. doing only two things will effectively disengage pakistan from this war: 1. seal the borders with afghanistan. 2. close the nato supply routes.

        7 pakistan has already moved some troops from its eastern borders. presence of troops is not the only thing that can trigger wars. this is not a conventional war you are talking about. india will never go to war with pakistan unless it is technologically sound enough to have decisive edge in all the three areas of airforce, army and navy along with very capable second strike capability. unless india has BMD installed, it will never go to war with pakistan. usa has already offered pac and aegis defences to india. many other projects of indian modernization are undergoing right now to be completed not before 2015.

        8. dont worry, a real stand is coming. everything needs time. be patient and remain united as pakistanis as well as muslims. we are muslims, not shia sunni. for once, do that.


  7. PAKISTAN MILITARY MAKES A STAND? Wat the fuck!
    I really dont support operation in North Waziristan…evn though im a gud patriot n lover of pak army.

    This action wud really bring the pak army and ISI on the lines of CORRUPT POLITICIANS.

    Instead doing bloodshed in North Waziristan, ARMY shud declare neutrality with WAR ON TERROR.

    If ths operation starts, im sure….army wud b compromising with innocent blood of Northern region
    I wud personally stop supporting army….


    • indeed..Pak army should not start any operation to appease any other nation.. :S

      We all are patriots & love our army..but it would be disastrous if we start another operation…i think firstly we should quickly clear the mess from South Waziristan & maintain military presence there until everything gets okay!…like we did in swat..!!

      when we say this is our war than we will have to do it in our own way…!!!


    • Mr Baig

      Are you a soldier?
      Im sure that your not.

      I would say that “dont try to tell the surgeon how to operate” !!!

      If you stop supporting the army, im sure they wont miss it, coz they have much more supporters than one.

      What you should do is to stop suporting you government and all this will stop..


  8. This is some kind a very biased news.

    If army starts operation in Waziristan. Then it is proved that army makes decision with pressure from US n CIA.
    You had dne operation in NWFP n South Waziristan by differentiating between gud n bad taliban saying that these operations were not in US interest but in PAKISTANS interest.

    What now then? Operation in Waziristan is not in Pakistans interests. Thn why the hell they are starting operation.

    Sometimes it feels that ths is Army-ISI propaganda to win hearts of public.

    Remember, if operation starts in N Waziristan. Thn i beleive ISI-CIA-RAW and etc all are same.


  9. Operation in North Waziristan would mean……Pak army is compromising with National Security for some personal gains and favours.

    There is absolutely no necessity for PAK to start operation in North Waziristan.

    I really wonder how could just senators of diff nations could so easily our threat our PAK ARMY.


  10. how far kiyani u will go enough is enough stop killing pushtoons.


  11. i have been visiting this site for a while and all i see is you guys praising pakistan military. its not suprising that army is the only employing institute in the country, and civilian achievements are neglected. how many noble prizes have pakistanis won? none i think. wheras one indian gets noble prize every year. in 2008 it was some guy for peace. in 2009, some biochemist, lets see who it is in 2010.


    • Bull Shit Indians… Peace ??


  12. PAKISTAN MILITARY IS SLEEPING LIKE INDIAN MILITARY,THEY DONOT UPDATE THEIR KNOWLEDGE. TODAYS WAR ARE NOT NECESSARILY FOUGHT WITH WEAPONS BUT WITH KNOWLEDGE AND ESPECIALLY UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN NATURE WHICH NEEDS THE KNOWLEDGE OF MANY FIELDS. BE WINNERS TRUST YOUR SELF.


    • Do u have a problem with your keyboard?


      • his capslock key is stuck


  13. “…The military hit back, and under its pressure Zardari surprised everybody by giving up the chairmanship of the National Command Authority, which controls the country’s nuclear weapons. It is now firmly under the military’s wing…”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t it the Prime Minister who has been appointed Chairman of National Command Authority?


    • whats wrong with the Prime Minister being the Chairman of National Command Authority??

      Person Like Zardari must be thrown in Fire!!!


  14. @Shumayel

    You took so much of my post out of context, I suggest you read posts properly before commenting on them. I’ll address some of the points you made which you somehow tried to correct me on: –

    You said: – 1. please don’t drag in the cliched shia-sunni terms to give it a fasadi/extremist shade. its time we rise above these petty fasadi talks and start gathering under a united platform.

    I was merely explaining the situation in Yemen. I suggest you ask a Yemeni and they will tell you the same thing about the Houthis being shia who the Saudi Arabians are bombing. Look up the situation in Yemen before jumping on me and accusing me of tying to cause sectarian division, so don’t ever try to imply I’m trying to cause fasad. I’m not a fan of sectarian division so you understand this clearly. I believe in Islam and not all these sects and I’m for unity in the Ummah. I explained it from the view of a few Arab people I know.

    2. respect all muslim countries including your own. this means bring forward their good deeds and don’t proliferate them or their wrong doings just because its something you read somewhere.

    ???? Excuse me??? Who are you to judge if I respect Muslim countries or not? You just made the biggest assumption that I don’t. I know of the reality of Saudi Arabia and just because I’m not afraid to criticize their leaders doesn’t mean I disrespect the country as a whole. Nowadays the rulers of Muslim countries do not reflect the views of their people.

    3. pakistan air force is indeed the best air force in the world but please understand that PAF cannot make the decision of shooting down a drone all by itself. there has to be harmony and agreement on decisions. you have a democratic government ruling above your armed forces. you, me and many other may not like the gov but you’re talking about running a country and a decision for a country not a household matter of he-took-my-cake. PAF has many times stated that they are capable of bringing down the drones, but the decision is for the gov to make. technically speaking, drones are toys when compared to any fighter jets or even a handheld antiaircraft missile.

    My answer to this, who are you kidding??? Our government is not democratic, its a feudal dynasty who are betraying Pakistan outright and is willing to open the borders to the likes of US and Nato at the first chance. The army is aware of this. Our government will never give the order. By the time they do, it will be too late. If India breached our borders, would the PAF first wait for permission or would it react straight away??? These drones are violating international law by coming into our territory.

    5. those will be inglorious who are not IMPRESSED by the sacrifices of pakistan armed forces.

    I was talking of the tribal people in the north. Again, you made an assumption that I don’t appreciate what our Pakistani army has done in regards to COIN operations. I said the tribal people after being bombed constantly by drones will not take statistics as an answer or be impressed because they’ll be asking that “where was our army to defend us from these drones?”.

    6. disengaging from this war is very much possible. not like, we’ve bought this war or someone has our soldiers to keep fighting forever. it not a matter of technology or anything, its only a matter of decision. there will be hardships but there are times when nations have to rise and make hard decisions. doing only two things will effectively disengage pakistan from this war: 1. seal the borders with afghanistan. 2. close the nato supply routes.

    Read my very first post, I said the same thing as you about closing NATO supplies. But, this war can not just be instantly engaged from as we have terrorist elements within our borders, we need to wipe them out as well. As it has now become a mater of national security rather then it being someone else’s war.

    8. dont worry, a real stand is coming. everything needs time. be patient and remain united as pakistanis as well as muslims. we are muslims, not shia sunni. for once, do that.

    Again, please don’t start preaching to me. I referred to only Yemen in a sectarian light as it happens to be the actual situation. Never did I refer to Pakistan in a sectarian light in my post. We all stand for unity here.

    Next time, before making assumptions, please read posts carefully before replying to them.


    • @ sabeen

      God bless you. Believe me, i can take this to all extents, but i’m not for creating differences, nor do i appreciate people as such. that’s not what i’m looking forward to or is my purpose, so i’d refrain. Sanity and essence of such forums should prevail, i believe. You are right = ] bless you.


  15. TWENTY MORE CIVILLIANS MURDERED BY AMERICAN DRONES JUST TODAY AND THEY HAVE GOT THE NERVE TO SAY PAKISTAN
    MAKES A STAND WHAT JOKERS WE HAVE IN THE ARMY AND GOVERMENT THEY HAVE NOT SOLD THEIR LOYALTIES THEY HAVE SOLD THE NATION OF PAKISTAN WAKE UP
    BY NUJAT A PATRIOTIC PAKISTANI


  16. Wow.

    There are lot of emotional responses to an otherwise simple analysis of the situation.

    From Pak’s perspective, WOT is not someone else’s problem, in fact it is the struggle for the very survival of our country. If as a nation we made the decisions with our “brains” and not our “hearts”, then Pak will survive through 21st century and beyond. Otherwise we’ll turn into another Afghanistan, or Yemen, or Allah maaf karay a Somalia.

    If for a moment we ignore our emotions, we’ll realize that no Pak should ever make “cross-border” decisions without our government’s consent.

    When our government says go do action xyz in Afghanistan, Sierra leon, or Liberia, we do, but when they say stop, then we must stop.

    Maintaining the respect of our beloved country in the face of unpopular governments is the key to Pakistan’s long term survival. We cannot and should not launch individual vendettas in the name of Islamic edicts.

    Our job is to be Pak’s ambassadors to other nations and other people for goodwill, hardwork, honesty, and truthfulness. Unless we are hired by Pakistan to perform combat services, we should never pick up arms.

    There are hundreds nay thousands of ways to be non-combative and still help other Muslims and non-Muslims.

    If Pakistan government has decided to not intervene militarily in Afghan matters, that doesn’t stop us for providing volunteer services for general good. If you feel deeply for Afghanis, then volunteer and build a road in Afghanistan, or be a nurse or a doctor in a poor village in Afghanistan.

    But for Allah’s sake, do not pick up arms in the name of protecting Afghans. That is not helping them, and instead destroying Pakistan too.

    Always remember that we love other Muslims, and we share their joys or sorrows. However we cannot and should not burn our own house, bomb our own police, and kill our own jawans in the name of religion, race, ethnicity, sect etc.

    Peace to all meaning Wa-Assalam.


  17. @nujat your not the only patriot here.

    But patriotism doesnt mean that we close our eyes and ears and start acting dumb.

    Your calling our soldiers jokers, who are daily laying down their lives for PAkistan and your sitting in you home telling us that your a patriot.

    If you are so patriot go to waziristan and see what is happening there, im sure you wont be able to sleep when you see the reality.

    Stop your lame accusations on the army.

    What have you done for Pakistan ?
    What have you done for our shaheeds?

    IF you cant write any useful comment then stop writing.
    The drones wont stop by just your comments.


    • THere must be something which is stopping the army/airforce from shooting down these drones..


      • @Faisal

        Dont you read the papers or assess reports on the media.

        Its pretty evident who is stopping in shooting of drones.

        “the corrupt government”


  18. Mutan—Pakistan; Army Air Defence on Monday conducted their annual practice fire exercises at semi-desert Khudai Ranges near Muzaffargarh.

    According to the ISPR, elements of Army Air Defence demonstrated their shooting skills by engaging targets at different altitudes. The precision and accuracy of Oerlikan and manual guns of various calibers was greatly appreciated. The aim of the exercise is to provide live fire experience on Air Defence guns in tactical environment and handling of weapons and equipment during firing.

    – What was the purpose of this exercise at this point of time ?

    – What the army wanted to prove ?

    I think the answers are obvious. Its high time now.

    But this corrupt government will never have the courage to allow the Army/PAF to start shooting down the drones.

    The new government which is on the way maybe has the courage to order shooting of drones and stoping the logistic supply line of NATO forces in Afghanistan.



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