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Thread: Pakistan preparing new offensive in North Waziristan.

  1. #1
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    Pakistan preparing new offensive in North Waziristan.

    I wish them success.

    Pakistan plans military operation in North Waziristan, targeting extremist groups - The Washington Post

    Attachment 35686
    Pakistanis leaving North Waziristan on Tues, Feb 25, 2014.

    Pakistan plans military operation in North Waziristan, targeting extremist groups
    By Karen DeYoung, Tuesday, February 25, 9:19 AM

    The Pakistani government is on the verge of launching a major military offensive in the North Waziristan tribal region following a series of brutal Taliban attacks in recent weeks and the apparent failure of peace talks with the militants, according to a senior Pakistani official.

    “It could be any day,” said the official, who added that military plans have been shared with top U.S. officials who have long urged an offensive.

    Planning for the operation comes amid a Pakistan-requested pause in U.S. drone strikes now entering its third month — the longest period without an attack in more than two years — and a series of high-level U.S.-Pakistan meetings.

    Pakistan’s defense secretary, Asif Yasin Malik, is currently heading a delegation of security officials in Washington. CIA Director John Brennan quietly visited Pakistan last week, days after Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, head of the U.S. Central Command, held meetings at military headquarters in Rawalpindi.

    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s national security adviser said Cabinet-level consultations on the military option would take place this week. “Dialogue with the Taliban has derailed and the writ of the state will be established in the region,” Sartaj Aziz told reporters Monday in Islamabad.

    With 150,000 troops already based in the tribal regions, the Pakistani official said the government is prepared to begin a full-fledged clearing operation. “We really don’t have to start from scratch,” the official said.

    The official said that an official evacuation had not yet begun, but noted that tens of thousands of residents, who he said were “spooked” by reports of imminent government attack, had already left on their own.

    U.S. officials, while hailing the current level of cooperation and saying they are encouraged by Pakistan’s apparent determination, noted that they have been frequently disappointed in the past. “We’ll believe it when we see it,” said one U.S. official, who like other U.S. and Pakistan officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic contacts and military plans.

    “We’re not doing it for their happiness,” said the senior Pakistani official of the United States’ urging. Instead, he said, the execution last week of 23 Pakistani soldiers held by the Pakistani Taliban since 2010, along with a series of recent attacks, including one that killed 19 at a Karachi police station, have turned public opinion against the militants and the already sputtering peace talks. That has opened new political space for military action.

    In statements Monday, the Pakistan People’s Party, the official parliamentary opposition, said it supported a military offensive. Imran Khan, head of the opposition Movement for Justice party, indicated that military action was now inevitable. “Talks would have still been a better option,” he said, but he called on the government now to “take political ownership of any military operation,” and fully inform the nation.

    Khan, whose northwest power base borders the tribal regions and who has been harshly critical of both Sharif and the United States in the past, called for the government to begin evacuating civilians from North Waziristan before starting a bombardment of the area, as it did prior to major military offensives in the Swat region in 2009, and in South Waziristan in 2010.

    The Pakistani Taliban, also known by its initials TTP, is allied with but separate from the Afghan Taliban fighting against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Elements of both, along with the Afghan Haqqani network and remnants of al-Qaeda’s core leadership, are located in North Waziristan.

    The TTP’s stated goal is to overthrow the Pakistani government and install an Islamic state based on religious law.

    Peace talks were first proposed early last fall by Sharif, who took office in June after the first democratic transition in Pakistani history. Those talks were cancelled when a U.S. drone strike in November killed TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud. The action led to one of the frequent downturns in U.S.-Pakistani relations, as Sharif’s government accused the Obama administration of trying to undermine negotiations.

    In late December, as it prepared to relaunch the talks, the government asked the administration to hold off on further drone attacks and made clear that it was prepared to begin a military offensive if negotiations did not succeed.

    The senior Pakistani official cautioned that the government has not yet formally declared the talks a failure, and said that “it’s politically important for the government to take this to its logical conclusion.” At least one round had taken place, with no dis*cern*ible results, when the execution of the Pakistani soldiers took place. In recent days, the government has carried out several retaliatory airstrikes that it says have killed dozens of militants in North Waziristan.

    The 2010 South Waziristan offensive began with air bombardment, followed by waves of ground troops, although the official cautioned that the terrain and militant locations in North Waziristan are somewhat different.

    The official said that government targeting would “not discriminate” among TTP, Haqqani and other groups in North Waziristan, including al-Qaeda.

    U.S. officials have long attributed Pakistani reluctance to attack there to ties between Pakistani intelligence and Afghan groups, such as the Haqqani network, and Pakistan’s desire to keep its options open in Afghanistan, should U.S. efforts there fail and the Afghan Taliban return to power.

    Pakistan has repeatedly denied those charges, and said it would take action that suited its own strategic priorities.

    Even as the United States and Afghanistan have accused Pakistan of failing to prevent Afghan and al-Qaeda militants from crossing the border, Pakistan has charged U.S. and Afghan forces with failing to go after TTP forces, many of whom fled into Afghanistan during previous Pakistani offensives.

    Both the United States and Pakistan have touted the advantages of a hammer-and-anvil strategy, with coordinated operations along the border to stop fleeing militants in both directions. But as their relationship has ebbed and flowed over the years, that level of cooperation has never come to pass.

    Now, with the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan well underway, the United States no longer has the military resources in eastern Afghanistan to adequately patrol the border, the senior Pakistani official said.

    © The Washington Post Company

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    Senior Contributor Agnostic Muslim's Avatar
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    I'm not convinced that the PML-N has actually made a decision to use 'dialog' more as a means of weaning away TTP factions and/or individuals AFTER authorizing the use of military force to clear out North Waziristan. Most commentators in Pakistan are just as skeptical, as the following piece illustrates:

    Hiding behind the army
    ZAHID HUSSAIN
    2014-02-26 07:35:40

    THERE’S a certain degree of inevitability about the latest military strikes on the militants’ hideouts in North Waziristan. The Sharif government was left with no choice but to suspend the peace charade following the Taliban’s slaughtering of the FC soldiers. Air force jets have been pounding suspected terrorist camps since then, reportedly taking out several militant commanders.

    Yet, there seems to be no comprehensible strategy behind the latest targeted bombings. It is still unclear whether the blitz is the beginning of a full-fledged operation to dislodge the TTP from its stronghold or retaliatory action to settle scores to be followed by a return to the dialogue mantra.

    Also, there’s no indication yet of the civilian leadership showing resolve to take the battle to its conclusion. It seems quite plausible that it was pressure from the military that forced the government to give its consent to the surgical strikes.

    It is apparent that a frightened administration is reluctant to take ownership of the campaign, leaving it to the discretion of the military command. For the government it appears to be just a military matter aimed at ‘avenging’ the death of the soldiers, detaching itself from responsibility. Surely the civilian leaders have not given up the hope that the virtually dead dialogue process could somehow be revived. It’s more of a carrot than a stick policy still at work.

    Instead of taking a firm position on the threat directed at the entire nation the Sharif government is hiding behind the army. Nothing could be more ridiculous than the remarks made by the interior minister describing the latest offensive in North Waziristan as action by the military in self-defence. “The armed forces have the right of self-defence which cannot be denied,” he declared at a press conference.

    So for the minister it’s all about the military defending itself against Taliban attacks. For him, the bombing of the terrorists’ sanctuaries is merely a unilateral punitive action. It doesn’t matter if civilians are killed, religious places are bombed and the state’s authority is challenged by the terrorists. It is nothing less than criminal abdication by an elected administration of its responsibility to defend the state, Constitution and the democratic values being threatened by the insurgents.

    It seems a deliberate move by the government to maintain ambiguity and not commit itself fully to an all-out operation. This war, it believes, is the military’s and let it deal with it, while the government plays the peace card. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who never misses an opportunity to placate the Taliban, not surprisingly appears optimistic about the resumption of the so-called peace talks with the militants.

    His invitation to the Taliban to play a friendly cricket match may be dismissed as a crude sense of wit. It also reflects his non-serious attitude towards the most critical issue confronting the country. In fact, it is a cruel joke.

    It is typical of Nawaz Sharif to rule by stealth. This characteristic comes out more glaringly in his handling of some of the most critical issues concerning national security and militancy. There has not been any formal policy thinking on the future course of action. There is no clarity on whether the prime minister has finally decided to use force and to what end. This state of uncertainty has intensified political polarisation imperilling national security.

    Mr Sharif’s latest decision to support the Saudi-backed Al Qaeda war in Syria is bound to strengthen the radical Sunni militant groups involved in sectarian killings and terrorist attacks on Pakistani security forces. There are already reports of Pakistani militants joining the new jihad theatre in the Middle East.

    This irrational decision to take sides in another country’s civil war may suck Pakistan into an international conflict at a time when the country is in the midst of a battle for its own survival. Pakistan would effectively be supporting the same forces in Syria who we are fighting here. This senseless policy to please Mr Sharif’s Saudi patrons threatens to push the country to the brink of civil war.

    For sure the military operation is critical to dislodging the militants from their bastion. But it is only half the battle. Success in this complex war would largely depend on whether we can defeat the militant narrative as well. Unfortunately, the national leadership seem to have completely handed over the initiative to the religious parties and hardline pro-Taliban clerics making it much more difficult to mobilise public support for the military offensive.

    Failure to build a strong counterterrorism narrative has given a huge advantage to the Taliban and their allies among the mainstream political parties. But the barbaric beheading of FC soldiers and the posting of ghastly internet videos showing militants playing football with their severed heads may prove to be a turning point in defeating the narrative of violence.

    The government has wasted more than eight months trying to appease the militants and playing on their ideological turf, thus allowing the terrorists a free hand. This flawed approach has led to many more deaths and destruction.

    More half-hearted measures will have disastrous consequences for the country’s unity. It is important to clear North Waziristan of militants, but it’s not the end of the battle. It will be a protracted struggle to not only eliminate the terrorist network, but to also defeat the extremist ideology.

    The writer is an author and journalist.
    Hiding behind the army - DAWN.COM
    Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission - Jinnah
    https://twitter.com/AgnosticMuslim

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    Senior Contributor Asim Aquil's Avatar
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    Its still the military calling the shots on the war and the government is happy to let it be about them.

    There's just too much dishonesty in everything that Pakistani leaders engage in wrt to the war - granted its pretty much like everyone's leaders engaged in this war.

    This offensive is just going to be short lived. Its a means to rub their (generic Taliban/extremist) faces in the dirt after the 23 FC were killed. There was a sense of upper hand to the Taliban that was felt as the Taliban came to the table. There is no vision in mind with this operation, its just revenge killing and the government will let it happen since they are already annoying the military with the Musharraf trial.

    Revenge killing is useless. The right way would have been to go in and wipe them out - or even go in and hug it out. Take a decision. Decide who you are and who you want to co-exist with.

    But these guys are just liars. PML-N, military and even the media reporting on the whole matter.

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    Hi Asim, long time no see mate. Hope all is well at your end.

    Cheers!...on the rocks!!

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    Military Professional Deltacamelately's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asim Aquil View Post
    Its still the military calling the shots on the war and the government is happy to let it be about them.

    There's just too much dishonesty in everything that Pakistani leaders engage in wrt to the war - granted its pretty much like everyone's leaders engaged in this war.

    This offensive is just going to be short lived. Its a means to rub their (generic Taliban/extremist) faces in the dirt after the 23 FC were killed. There was a sense of upper hand to the Taliban that was felt as the Taliban came to the table. There is no vision in mind with this operation, its just revenge killing and the government will let it happen since they are already annoying the military with the Musharraf trial.

    Revenge killing is useless. The right way would have been to go in and wipe them out - or even go in and hug it out. Take a decision. Decide who you are and who you want to co-exist with.

    But these guys are just liars. PML-N, military and even the media reporting on the whole matter.
    Asim,

    Few thoughts here -

    1. For any sensible military commander, witnessing his boys getting beheaded and their heads being played as football is totally unacceptable.
    2. It seems clear from the narrative that the politicos have no interest in taking the war to its logical conclusion - Complete annihilation of the terrorists.
    3. Its also seems clear that the politicos have no qualms in the butchering of these fkucs by the military.
    4. If this appears to some of us or you, that the current operation is more of a revenge killing, then it means the military is angry.

    The million dollar question thus remains - When you are angry and nobody is stopping you from avenging yourself - Then why not kill the enemy for once and all?
    And on the sixth day, God created the Field Artillery...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deltacamelately View Post
    The million dollar question thus remains - When you are angry and nobody is stopping you from avenging yourself - Then why not kill the enemy for once and all?
    I don't see the set up for that kind of campaign. If it were so, the campaign should start at the Afghan border and sweep inwards (driving the TTP towards Pak Army strength).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    I don't see the set up for that kind of campaign. If it were so, the campaign should start at the Afghan border and sweep inwards (driving the TTP towards Pak Army strength).
    Colonel, considering the porosity of that border vis a vis Taliban movement back and forth between the two countries, and the fact that they travel fast and light and blend into the populace, what if the Taliban are already on the wrong side of such a sweep when the PA mobilizes and starts it - i.e. in the opposite direction (towards the Afghan side) of the inward sweep movement (towards the Pakistani side)? I am taking into consideration the current wind down of the US led forces on the Afghan side in the equation here.

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    Military Professional Deltacamelately's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    I don't see the set up for that kind of campaign. If it were so, the campaign should start at the Afghan border and sweep inwards (driving the TTP towards Pak Army strength).
    Sir,

    That is exactly my question. Why aren't they actually doing it, in any way it suits them? What then are the objectives for launching this campaign? I don't believe it to be mere revenge killing for 2 dozen KIA.
    And on the sixth day, God created the Field Artillery...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sated buddha View Post
    Colonel, considering the porosity of that border vis a vis Taliban movement back and forth between the two countries, and the fact that they travel fast and light and blend into the populace, what if the Taliban are already on the wrong side of such a sweep when the PA mobilizes and starts it - i.e. in the opposite direction (towards the Afghan side) of the inward sweep movement (towards the Pakistani side)? I am taking into consideration the current wind down of the US led forces on the Afghan side in the equation here.
    Then the Pakistani Army won without a fight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    Then the Pakistani Army won without a fight.
    For now, yes. What happens after the sweep deployment gets re-deployed back to where they came from? The Taliban can then simply walk back in.

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    That is if the Pakistani Army retreats. They have more than enough numbers to not need to do so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    That is if the Pakistani Army retreats. They have more than enough numbers to not need to do so.
    So let me get this Colonel sir, as a non military man, because I am not. They have more than enough numbers to man both borders (ours and the Afghan-Iran one), and yet most of their forces are still eyeball to eyeball with ours. They would of course claim that such was not the case and cite their contribution in terms of fighting forces for the WOT. But I think no one really buys that (in terms of any permanent, large scale deployment). So you are essentially saying that they could manage us with much fewer men? If so, and they actually do permanently re-deploy to their west as you are suggesting they should, then conversely can we then leverage the same advantage in terms of change of status quo and redeploy now redundant forces elsewhere as well?

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    They don't have to reduce nothing. Just call out the bloody reserves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Asim Aquil View Post
    Its still the military calling the shots on the war and the government is happy to let it be about them.

    There's just too much dishonesty in everything that Pakistani leaders engage in wrt to the war - granted its pretty much like everyone's leaders engaged in this war.

    This offensive is just going to be short lived. Its a means to rub their (generic Taliban/extremist) faces in the dirt after the 23 FC were killed. There was a sense of upper hand to the Taliban that was felt as the Taliban came to the table. There is no vision in mind with this operation, its just revenge killing and the government will let it happen since they are already annoying the military with the Musharraf trial.

    Revenge killing is useless. The right way would have been to go in and wipe them out - or even go in and hug it out. Take a decision. Decide who you are and who you want to co-exist with.

    But these guys are just liars. PML-N, military and even the media reporting on the whole matter.
    Asim

    That is not correct. The military has largely left matters to the Civilian Government. The military has realized that gone are the days when they could single handedly call the shots. In this case, its the PML-N Government that is calling the shots against the TTP. PA has been itching for the past 2 years to initiate an operation in NW but the Civilian Government of both PPP and PML-N have over ruled this.

    It is only because of the pressure from the politicians that PA has not been able to go to NW and wipe out these TTP Pigs. Right now, it appears that PML-N Government has decided against the military option and will proceed with dialogue which IMO is a very foolish decision.

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    Senior Contributor Agnostic Muslim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deltacamelately View Post
    The million dollar question thus remains - When you are angry and nobody is stopping you from avenging yourself - Then why not kill the enemy for once and all?
    The government IS stopping the military from going beyond the isolated retaliatory attacks - the Army's position on this was made clear from the time Kayani became COAS in 2008, that the Civilian government had to buy off on, and own, any large scale military operation. That stance, whether one agrees with it or not, is necessary given the polarization within Pakistan over the Taliban and how to best handle them, and the fact that the TTP propaganda machine has chosen to also latch onto the narrative of the Army 'calling the shots as a Western Slave and undermining Pakistan's Islamic credentials and government'.
    Last edited by Agnostic Muslim; 01 Mar 14, at 20:17.
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