Pakistani Army Advances into Waziristan; Effect of Campaign on US in Afghanistan Doubted; Taliban threaten India

Islamabad’s campaign against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan is largely irrelevant to the struggles of the US and NATO in Afghanistan across the Durand Line, according to Afghanistan News Net. The relevant groups are the Old Taliban led by Mullah Omar, based in Quetta; the Haqqani Network of Siraj and Jalaluddin Haqqani, based in North Waziristan and targeting the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika; and the Hizb-i Islami or Islami Party of Gulbadin Hikmatyar, which is mainly based in Afghanistan but has a presence in Bajaur, the northernmost of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan.

So what is in South Waziristan? Groups that are targeting Pakistan itself. These include the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan [TTP] or Pakistani Taliban Movement and elements of anti-Shiite Sunni extremist groups from the Punjab, who have begun hitting Pakistani government targets. The campaign will thus have little effect on the fighting in Afghanistan, except to the extent that some militants may be displaced from Pakistan north to Afghanistan.

Dawn reports on the Pakistan military’s advance into South Waziristan on the campaign’s second day.

I picked out some worrisome parts of this report which are mentioned but not highlighted:

  • South Waziristan’s population is 600,000; the campaign has already displaced 100,000 of them.
  • Afghan Taliban commander Mullah Sangin has brought in 1,500 Afghan Pashtun fighters to support the Pakistani Taliban Movement in South Waziristan.
  • Azam Tariq, spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban Movement, said that militants’ supporters from Muslim seminaries in Punjab, Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province were in touch with the Taliban and were coming to the battle zone through various routes.

    (In support of this last point, police teams intensively investigated seminaries or madrasahs in the capital of Islamabad and some other areas on Sunday.)

    Pakistan may even have to close its schools for a week because they have been threatened by the Taliban.

    In other words, this military campaign is not just a matter of troops versus guerrillas. It is becoming a rallying point for Muslim radicals, with volunteers coming in from Afghanistan and others from madrasahs from all over Pakistan– and with Pakistan’s own security hanging in the balance.

    Tariq took responsibility for the recent horrific bombings in the Punjabi city of Lahore, which targeted Pakistani security forces, thus claiming that South Waziristan had a very long reach into the rest of the country.

    Pakistani security forces also arrested some 300 Afghans on Sunday.

    CBS reports on the Waziristan campaign:

    Reuters also has a video news report.

    As if the fighting in Pakistan itself is not worrying enough, the USG Open Source Center translates a threat against India from TTP leader Hakimullah Mahsud:

    ‘ Pakistan: TTP Chief Hakimullah Mehsud Says India Next Target After Country
    Unattributed report: “We Shall Declare War Against India After Islamic States Is Established in Pakistan: Hakimullah Mehsud”
    Khabrain
    Sunday, October 18, 2009
    Document Type: OSC Translated Text

    Islamabad — Hakimullah Mehsud, chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has threatened that the Taliban will send terrorists to fight against India after succeeding in establishing an Islamic state in Pakistan. He said in the footage shown in a British news channel Sky News : “We wish to make Pakistan an Islamic state, and we are striving for this objective. We are battling against the Pakistan Army, the police, and militia.”

    (Description of Source: Islamabad Khabrain in Urdu  News, a sensationalist daily, published by Liberty Papers Ltd., generally critical of Pakistan People’s Party; known for its access to government and military sources of information. The same group owns The Post in English, Naya Akhbar in Urdu and Channel 5 TV. Circulation of 30,000)’

    End/ (Not Continued)

  • Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Responses | Print |

    12 Responses

    1. An addition to your list of groups: Maulavi Nazir Ahmad's Pashtun militia is also in Waziristan. He was featured in a lengthy video interview produced and issued this past spring by Al-Qa'ida Central's media outlet, Al-Sahab.

      He has, however, reportedly decided to stay "neutral" in the recent fighting. This may be because he and Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan have clashed in the recent past.

      Maulavi Nasir Ahmad Stays "Neutral" in Latest Round of Fighting between Pakistan Military & Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan

    2. Sounds especially like the Pashtuns of Pakistan may be in for a hard time though. Where do they flee?

    3. With statements like this ""We Shall Declare War Against India After Islamic States Is Established in Pakistan: Hakimullah Mehsud"

      These people are more likely to align BOTH Indian AND Pakistani forces against them.

      I'm sure the Indians will be more than ready for these Taliban and will be more ruthless wqith them than the US/NATO forces have been.

      ronaldo

    4. Wondering if this will be a decisive battle for Pakistan, which either leads the way to more chaos or to a stabilization of the country?

    5. What about suspicions that al-Qaeda leaders such as Bin Laden and Dr. Zawahiri are in hiding in South Waziristan? If those beliefs are true then I wonder if this scenario is what is really going on: Obama is holding off on his decision on future action in Afghanistan because this South Waziristan offensive by Pakistan is his actual "future action in Afghanistan". The presence of al-Qaeda is the motivating factor of staying involved militarily in Afghanistan. If Bin Laden et al are in South Waziristan and the Pakistani offensive succeeds in chasing them away or even capturing them, then Obama could declare victory and not need to go ahead with a troop commitment he might not want to do, given the failure of the recent election. A successful Pakistani offensive against Bin Laden et al would also remove the stigma of negotiating with the Taliban.

      – Inkan1969

    6. Juan,

      As always, I appreciate your perspective and insight. I'm wondering if the Pakistani offensive is not so much worrying, but rather necessary and a long time coming.

      At the risk of sounding like a fundamentalist myself, is there another solution to dealing with the Taliban (of either Afghanistan or Pakistan)? It seems they can't be bargained with (see SWAT) or left alone. As much as I support self-determination of peoples, the Taliban goes well beyond the pale regarding abusing human rights.

      It seems to me that a local solution to the problem is much more attractive than an effort by the US to impose a peace from the other side of the world.

      Do you think there is any reason for optimism given this report of the consensus among political groups in Pakistan:
      link to dawn.com

      I'm not familiar with the source nor all the groups.

    7. Interesting. But is there any way you could provide a map for those of us not so familiar with Pakistani geography?

    8. ref : “The campaign will thus have little effect on the fighting [= counter-occupation guerrilla war] in Afghanistan, except to the extent that some militants may be displaced from Pakistan north to Afghanistan. Eric Margolis, "War next door creates havoc in Pakistan" condemns the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, advanced with President Barack Obama's blessing [the bill's signing came on the same day that the Pakistani Taliban mounted the latest in a 10-day series of devastating multiple attacks on key army and police facilities], is ham-handed dollar diplomacy at its worst… U.S. policy in the Muslim world continues to be driven by imperial arrogance, profound ignorance, and ‘special interest’ groups” :

      Pakistan, bankrupted by corruption and feudal landlords, is being offered $7.5 billion USD over five years — but with outrageous strings attached. The U.S. wants to build a mammoth new embassy for 1,000 personnel in Islamabad, the second largest after its Baghdad fortress-embassy. New personnel are needed, claims Washington, to monitor the $7.5 billion in aid. So U.S. mercenaries are being brought in to protect U.S. "interests." New U.S. bases will open. Most of this new aid will go right into the pockets of the pro-western ruling establishment, about 1% of the population. Washington is also demanding veto power over promotions in Pakistan's armed forces and intelligence agency, the ISI. This crude attempt to take control of Pakistan's proud, 617,000-man military has enraged the armed forces. It's all part of Washington's "AfPak" strategy — clamp tighter control over restive Pakistan and make use of its armed forces and spies in [the counter-occupation guerrilla war in] Afghanistan. Seizing control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, the key to its national defence against much more powerful India, is the other key U.S. objective [!] However, 90% of Pakistanis oppose the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, and see ‘Taliban’ and its allies as national resistance to western occupation.

    9. Regarding “Enlightened Layperson” and others interested in seeing maps of the areas in Pakistan being affected by military operations and general insurgency, the following links may be of some help:

      A map of Pakistan within the region of South Asia. link to cia.gov

      link to worldatlas.com

      Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghanistan border.
      link to en.citizendium.org

      I hope they provide some guidance.

    10. Seems to me if per the report in Dawn Mullah Sangin has brought 1,500 Afghan Pashtun fighters into S. Waziristan this alone will have a noticeable effect on the situation in Afghanistan. I've not seen any report that gives the number of active insurgents operating in Afghanistan as over 30,000.

    11. Hi, Juan — Have you seen the new ICG report, noting the counterproductive results that arise from a strategy relying on military force instead of more rights-sensitive approaches emphasizing diversity, economic opportunity, and constitutionalism? It may be found at:
      link to crisisgroup.org

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