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from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan’s military operation in Waziristan

In a world used to watching war played out on television, and more recently to following protests in Iran via Twitter and YouTube, the Pakistan Army's impending military offensive in South Waziristan on the Afghan border is probably not getting the attention it deserves -- not least but because the operation is shrouded in secrecy.

Yet the offensive has the potential to be a turning point in the battle against the Taliban which began with the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Many Taliban and their al Qaeda allies fled Afghanistan to Pakistan's tribal areas after the U.S. invasion -- the CIA said this month it believed Osama bin Laden was still hiding in Pakistan. The offensive in South Waziristan, designed to target Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, would if successful deprive the Taliban and al Qaeda of what has been until now one of their safest boltholes.

Before the army launches a full-scale offensive, the United States appears to be stepping up missile strikes by unmanned aircraft to weaken the Pakistani Taliban --  an attack on Tuesday by a U.S. drone killed about 70 militants.  The attack, on a funeral for one of six militants killed in a similar strike earlier in the day, would appear to indicate increasing coordination between the United States and Pakistan, although Pakistan publicly condemns the drone operations. When the army does go in, it is likely to face intense fighting against Mehsud and his thousands of well-armed followers, who have had years to prepare defences.

The killing on Tuesday of Mehsud rival Qari Zainuddin has also encouraged speculation that the military is working hard on time-honoured tactics of divide and rule, by trying to find tribal leaders who will turn against Mehsud (the blog Changing up Pakistan has produced an excellent round-up of media reports on Zainuddin's death). 

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan, from Swat to Baluchistan via Waziristan

The Pakistan Army is engaged in what appears to be a very nasty little war in the Swat valley against heavily armed Taliban militants.  With journalists having left Swat, there have been no independent reports of what is going on there, though the scale of the operation can be partly measured by the huge numbers of refugees - nearly 1.7 million - who fled to escape the military offensive.

Dawn newspaper carried an interview with a wounded soldier saying the Taliban had buried mines and planted IEDs every 50 metres.  ‘They positioned snipers in holes made out of the walls of houses. They used civilians as human shields. They used to attack from houses and roofs," it quoted him as saying. ‘They are well equipped, they have mortars. They have rockets, sniper rifles and every type of sophisticated weapons."

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