Talk of Waziristan offensive picks up in Pakistan

October 2, 2009

According to Dawn newspaper, the Pakistan Army is poised to launch a major military operation in South Waziristan, stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban.

It quotes senior military and security officials as saying that the army would launch what it called “the mother of all battles” in the coming days.

“If we don’t take the battle to them, they will bring the battle to us,” it quotes a senior military official as saying of the militants. “The epicentre of the behemoth called the Taliban lies in South Waziristan, and this is where we will be fighting the toughest of all battles.”

“For three months, the military has been drawing up plans, holding in-depth deliberations and carrying out studies on past expeditions to make what seems to be the last grand stand against Pakistani Taliban in the Mehsud heartland a success,” it says.

“We are ready. The environment is ready,” it quotes the senior officer as saying. “It will not be a walkover. This is going to be casualty-intensive hard fighting. The nation will have to bear the pain,” said another officer.

The Pakistan Army is not saying anything in public, and information about its operations in Waziristan is hard to come by since the area is so remote and inaccessible.

But any ground offensive into South Waziristan would be a major escalation in the Pakistan Army’s battle against the Pakistani Taliban, dwarfing its operation earlier this year to clear militants out of the Swat valley northwest of Islamabad.

The army has been reluctant to send ground troops into South Waziristan, instead aiming to seal off the area and rely on airstrikes to target militants. But talk of a possible ground offensive has risen after two bomb attacks last weekend raised fears the Pakistani Taliban were recovering from the death of their leader, Baitullah Mehsud, in a U.S. missile strike in August.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik told me earlier this week that Pakistan was considering whether it needed to launch a full-scale military operation against the Pakistani Taliban, who he described as “the front face of al Qaeda”.

And according to Dawn, “Thousands of army soldiers – two divisions – are now sitting on the fringes of the Mehsud mainland waiting for orders from the high command to move in.”

South Waziristan is believed to be heavily defended; it is larger than Swat and more inaccessible. Its people have always been hostile to outsiders, unlike Swat which was once a tourist paradise before it was overrun by Taliban militants. So any ground offensive would likely cause heavy casualties.

The general view has also been that the army has been running out of time to launch a ground offensive before the winter snows make operations extremely hard and would defer any big moves until the spring. That could still be the case, if it judges that a combination of air attacks and missile strikes by U.S. drones – the latest reported casualty from these was Uzbek militant leader Tahir Yuldashev – is enough to keep the militants at bay and stop them from bombing Pakistani cities.

But Malik said Pakistan could even launch an operation in winter if needs be. “Even in the winter, even before starting winter … if we feel appropriate that this operation is unavoidable, yes, we will consider that,” he said.

The Pakistan Army has years of experience of fighting in winter conditions – along with the Indian Army it became a world expert in high-altitude warfare in the conflict over the Siachen region which erupted in 1984, and it also has troops posted in the mountains along the Line of Control dividing Kashmir – although there has been a ceasefire there since 2003.

So it is not out of the question for the Pakistan Army to launch an offensive that drags into the winter. According to the Dawn report, temperatures in Waziristan can drop to 20 degrees below freezing, with snow setting in towards the end of November — fairly brutal conditions for an offensive, but less hostile in terms of weather than it has had to deal with in Siachen over the years.  And Dawn quotes military strategists as saying the weather problem would hit the militants more than the troops, although the former would have the advantage of knowing their terrain.

In its battle against Islamist militants, Pakistan has concentrated on tackling the Pakistani Taliban, which threaten the country directly. That has annoyed the United States, which wants Pakistan to move as well against militants fighting western troops in Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban which it says are based in Quetta, in Baluchistan province. India is pressing for action against militant groups based in Pakistan’s Punjab province, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group it blames for last year’s attack on Mumbai.

But for now, attention within Pakistan seems to be turning to Waziristan for what could turn out to be the toughest military campaign in the whole of the Afghanistan and Pakistan theatre.

(File photos:Pakistani soldier in Swat; Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani with U.S. General David Petraeus; Taliban fighters; author in Siachen)

Comments

Well, good luck to Pakistani army. If they launch this offensive, let it be that they fight the monster that they created as a weapon wholeheartedly. They should never leave any minimal stock for future operations. Using militants to fight proxy wars will always backfire. They should completely wipe out terrorism in their country in order to become a civilized nation. Using terrorism as a weapon is for rogue nations. If Pakistan wants to come out clean and start on a fresh note, I welcome it.There will be repercussions from the affected people once the military offensive is completed. Military solutions can never be permanent. They cause the required damage to level everything flat. What needs to be done following that is to build from ground zero. And Pakistan will need enough courage and support to undo everything and start on a fresh note. I hope they do not get entangled with their anti-Indian paranoia and lose focus. If India wanted to attack Pakistan, they would have already. They did not even after the Mumbai attacks. And the US is in the neighborhood to ensure that India and Pakistan do not choke each other to death.So Pakistan should make the most of it and wash out the militant radicals from its belly for good. If they did it sincerely, they will be respected and admired for what they did. And they will be quoted as a shining example of a nation that recovered from a certain death after contracting a near fatal Jihadist sickness.Good luck to the PA on its efforts.

 

Carrots and Sticks working!Pakistan just got 1.5 bil/yr award from US and also a threat of unilateral drone strike in Baluchistan!

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive
 

What happened to tha Taliban leadership in SWAT? ISI just saved top leaders and army killed the civilians and low level operatives. And then asked US to reimbursement! The SWAT leadership is still doing well under ISI protection!Is it going to be the same game in South Waziristan?Pakistan should stop plying games with terrorists!

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive
 

This is a Pakistani game!Pakistan army knows US has barely 1 year to show results. So if army spends 6 months to 1 year in South Waziristan, US would have abandoned Afghanistan by that time.Pakistan should focus on South Waziristan and US/NATO should focus on Baluchistan and other areas where Omaar/UBL/Haqqanis live!Pakistan army never wants the Talibans to die or US/NATO to win!

Posted by SOnam` | Report as abusive
 

Pakistan going after wrong targets!US demands urgent action in Quetta!Pakistan army should go after all targets at once! Should stop playing fight-here-hide-there! Else drones are coming in large numbers!The diplomat did not rule out use of drones against what he called Quetta Shura.http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connec t/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/1 1-us-demands-action-in-quetta–il–14Mulla h Omar in Quetta, Osama in FATA: US diplomathttp://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/conn ect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakis tan/03-osama-bin-laden-operating-from-pa kistan-ss-07

Posted by Robin | Report as abusive
 

Andy, you said:”Carrots and Sticks working!Pakistan just got 1.5 bil/yr award from US and also a threat of unilateral drone strike in Baluchistan!”But did anyone take that threat of drones over Quetta seriously?It’s hard to see how you could use drones without intelligence on the ground, unless you are simply going to drop a Hellfire missile and hope for the best.The rash of stories in the press about it was interesting — you get a drones over Quetta threat coming up every few months – but it’s hard to see why anyone, and especially the Pakistan Army, would be influenced by them.Myra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive
 

Messy situation in Balochistan!ISI/army innocent!ISI blames RAM, RAW, CIA, FBI, Black Water and MI-6!”No Taliban Shura including Mullah Omar has been located in Quetta and marked as high priority target for drone attacks”http://www.asiantribune.com/news  /2009/09/30/messy-situation-balochistan

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive
 

Drones are best!Pakistan Army/ISI offensive in SWAT!Caution: Videos are extremely disturbing!www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRL3n AkRE2Awww.youtube.com/watch?v=z1dURNF3sT 0&feature=relatedwww.facebook.com/video/ video.php?v=154618849135http://www.guard ian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/02/pakistan-sol diers-beating-suspects-videoNo wonder Pakistan Army/ISI never win a single war! If this army goes to FATA/Balochistan, US/NATO will never achieve their objectives! Only common Pakistanis will suffer!

Posted by Sammer | Report as abusive
 

I have asked this question before – How can 2 to 3 thousand people fight with old Russian weapons Pak army? How are Taliban getting these sophisticated arms and ammunition? They do not have ordinance factories in Afghanistan – then who is supplying them these arms – is it India (most probably) or US?.

Posted by Baloch | Report as abusive
 

“No wonder Pakistan Army/ISI never win a single war! If this army goes to FATA/Balochistan, US/NATO will never achieve their objectives! Only common Pakistanis will suffer!- Posted by Sammer “–>Looked at the videos they are quite disturbing.We don’t actually know what the story here is, whether the guy is Taliban or innocent, but it seems Pak Army is at its best, beating, maiming or killing innocent and unarmed civilians and they fight when outnumbering 10 to 1.Let’s see how the Pak Army cowards face off against the Uzbeks, who are known for their legendary ferocity. 700,000 army and they can’t/won’t/are not able to take the militants head on and wipe them clean.India would have fixed this problem decades ago, if there were militants who were challenging the state on such a large scale.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

KP Singh,You wrote –“So Pakistan should make the most of it and wash out the militant radicals from its belly for good. If they did it sincerely, they will be respected and admired for what they did. And they will be quoted as a shining example of a nation that recovered from a certain death after contracting a near fatal Jihadist sickness”.I am afraid what you are saying is wishful thinking. I would like you to respond to my comments.1. PA, ISI, the pak population make a distinction between terrorism against their own people and terrorism against India and its people. The latter is good, desired, admired and heroic.2. There is no proof WHATSOEVER Pakistanis have already abandoned or are seriously considering abandoning anti-India terrorism. If Kasab had not been caught alive (a) they would not have admitted the attack was done by Pakistanis (b) there is no way they would have done the cosmetic arrests they have made for international consumption.3. Even if a sizeable pak population & pak leaders are opposed to terrorism- it does not mean much in a practical sense since this section is powerless to influence the terrorist sponsors, supporters. This group gives lip service to India’s concerns.4. The only reason Pakistan has not resumed terrorism in India is to recover from post-Mumbai blowback and pressing internal problems.5. If some stability is achieved, Pakistan will resume terrorism in India in no time.It may not be in the grand scale of Mumbai, likely to resume, small and slow e.g. Diwali bomb blasts in a mid-sized city.6. It is disappointing, saddening to note Indians never learn. There is no solution to the “Pakistan problem”. Just like in medical parlance what they call chronic disease management “pakistan problem” can only be managed, no cure visible in the near future. One example of management: stipulation in US aid bill asking pakistan should stop terrorism in neighbouring countries.7. Why is #6 the case? Implacable anti-India hostility of Pakistani terrorism sponsors. Only thing that will placate them is complete disintegration of India.8. Once again read #3 aboveIn summary, your wish that pakistan would seriously abandon all kinds of jihadi terrorism is seriously misplaced.p.s. Myra, I hope you don’t find anything personally offending to you in above post and you will post my opinion.

 

Well Pakistan army is not obliged to save America from failure. Why should they? “After all it was your adventure in Afghanistan not ours”.With in a year or two, Americans would be leaving Afghanistan. That’s the outcome Pakistan would to see and install a government in Kabul of its own choice.You better enjoy day dreams.

Posted by atiq | Report as abusive
 

It must be very frustrating for the Pakistani military and intelligence establishing to see the machinery it built over the years is being dismantled part by part and it is made to help do that job. Taliban is a creation of Pakistan to set up a strategic depth against India. Everything Pakistan does is India-centric. So not its head has been turned backwards to fight the monster it created specially for India. Had 9/11 not happened, by now Pakistan would have made substantial advancement in its operations against India and the Indian military would be fighting a multi-faceted war from all angles. 9/11 actually saved India and broke Pakistan’s back. Now look at the loss of their investment in this campaign. It is not easy to build a breeding system that sustains itself and grows on frenzy to destroy everything. It takes enormous integration of resources and efforts. They were very close to completing that task and Bin Laden ruined the party. May be Pakistani military should take out its anger on him by knocking him out.Let us hope people learn from their mistakes and not commit the same mistake twice. Pakistani military establishment should teach its cadres every day about the path it had chosen in the past, the repercussions and what not to do in the future. That is the only way they are going to build responsible citizens.

 

Myra,The carrot and stick policy has been going on for long.By now Pakistan is used to being smacked around by the US like a recalcitrant child. Its just that, it is the Pakistan elected government and people who feel the stick and it is the Pakistan Army which gets the carrots.What makes you think that the US does not have any humanint assets within Pakistan? The Pakistan Army protested vociferously during the initial few months of the drones attacks in Pakistan. Sure, there were mistakes made but the drone attacks started showing results. With or without intelligence provided by the ISI, the drone attacks continued. Finally better sense prevailed when the Pakistan Army figured, better to join the Yanks if you can’t stop them and provided the US facilities within Pakistan to fly the drones.But the message was well learnt. The Pakistan Army and the people learnt that if they would not take action, the US will. The US also learnt a lesson. To get Pakistan to act in a specific district, start using the drones there and the Pakistan army will be led there like a water buffalo by its nose ring.Contrarian

 

You better enjoy day dreams.- Posted by atiqThank you.U Enjoy our drones too!

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive
 

I have asked this question before – How can 2 to 3 thousand people fight with old Russian weapons Pak army? How are Taliban getting these sophisticated arms and ammunition? They do not have ordinance factories in Afghanistan – then who is supplying them these arms – is it India (most probably) or US?.- Posted by BalochWhich madrassa did u go to? Did u graduate? Have you ever thought that the fighting could be a stage managed extortion drama!Can you google? Your answer is on the net with pictures and videos!

Posted by Ronny | Report as abusive
 

Well Pakistan army is not obliged to save America from failure. Why should they? “After all it was your adventure in Afghanistan not ours”.- Posted by atiqOK, then stand aside and don’t shout!. We’ll drone these little creeps wherever they hide!

Posted by Summer | Report as abusive
 

And the Oscar for this year’s best actor goes to Gen Kiyani for his birilliant potrayal of a willing general who distroys his own strategic depth for a better world.Applause encore applause!!!

Posted by indian1127 | Report as abusive
 

Pakistan is a country of interest to US/Europe/India/Isreal/UAE/Saudis and everybody got their own and independent ways to get intelligence. No one trusts and wants to work with ISI.It is the ISI and Pak home minister who is asking US/India for intelligence on tribal areas every other day! Seems like other countries know more about Pakistan and Pakistanis do!Pakistan asks India to share information on terrorist plothttp://news.xinhuanet.com/english/20 09-09/14/content_12052084.htmProvide details on Taliban, Pakistan tells U.S.http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaC risis/idUSSP365126

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive
 

Scores of bodies found in Pakistan’s Swat valleyBy the first of September, according to Pakistani news reports, 251 corpses had been found, and local residents say the tally may have reached 400 by now.Some of the bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs, according to local news reports.http://www.miamiherald.com/news/ world/AP/story/1264037.htmlPakistan army abusing civilians to get info on Taliban!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h fln0_Wazvc&feature=relatedWith all the good work US is doing to win hearts-and-minds, Pakistan army is going to waste everything and make things more difficult for US.

Posted by Sammer | Report as abusive
 

Myra:Don;t you think putting a map of the region of interest is more useful than the picture of 2 generals or the pickup truck?If I were you, I would do that for each article.Just a suggestion.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Myra:Nice photo of yours at Siachen. In that jacket, you look part of PA.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

I wonder why the Pakistanis are broadcasting their intentions so stridently? Doesn’t seem a sound tactical strategy to give the enemy advance warning – the Taliban have proved they are no pushovers.Winter will be a major factor and unless the operation can be wrapped up very fast- which seems unlikely given the terrain and ample warning – there is a likely hood of a stalemate. Similar operations were reportedly conducted earlier too, a few years ago, with little success.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive
 

Can we discuss teh Kerry-Lugar bill in your next post?Looks like the Mullah press is spreading all kinds of rumors against it!

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive
 

Why not discuss the legality of Pakistan’s claim in your next post?

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive
 

Answer to the question raised in the last line is simple. Because China understands that kashmir is occupied by india.- Posted by KadriThis legal occupation is justified by:1. India partition agreement2. Kashmir Accession agreement3. Shimla agreement4. UN resuolutions5. 10+ elections in last 60 years with more than 70% votes in last general electionsCan you show me any evidence to justify the illegal occupation of:1. Baluchistan and PoK by Pakistan.2. Tibet and Xinjiang by ChinaEveryday there is oppression, murder and ethnic cleansing happening in these illegally occuppied areas!

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive
 

“I wonder why the Pakistanis are broadcasting their intentions so stridently? Doesn’t seem a sound tactical strategy to give the enemy advance warning – the Taliban have proved they are no pushovers.Winter will be a major factor and unless the operation can be wrapped up very fast- which seems unlikely given the terrain and ample warning – there is a likely hood of a stalemate. Similar operations were reportedly conducted earlier too, a few years ago, with little success.- Posted by Dara “–>Pak Army, always overtly broadcasts its military intentions to the Militants, as a thinly veiled advanced warning to the leadership of their “strategic militant assets” so that they can get safe passage, flight and remain protected assets before the lackluster fighting begins, for the cameras and the U.S.’s showtime benefit. This is how they keep fooling the U.S. and the militant leaderships stay one step ahead, constantly. Perhaps even so-called State Agency “lower level rogue elements” pre-warning them of military operations, in advance.Tactical tools such as stealth, quiet operation and covertness is only used to fool the Americans or give the Indians migraines.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

Rajeev,I have posted a map before, but it doesn’t work well in a small photo. And re the PA photo, next time I write about Siachen I’ll balance it out with a photo of me with an Indian rifle.Dara,I agree it’s odd to broadcast the offensive like this. As our correspondent in Islamabad reports, the army is being much more measured about what it says in public:http://www.reuters.com/article/GC A-Afghanistan-Pakistan/idUSTRE5910NS2009 1003?sp=trueBut I’m not entirely convinced that winter snows are an insurmountable obstacle. Bad weather would be a problem for both sides, and the side with most experience of winter warfare might have an edge. And if you look at what both the Indian and Pakistan armies have done in Siachen, you would have to say that anything is possible.Andy,I think it was you who mentioned the drones over Quetta.If you scroll down to the second article in this piece from CTC Sentinel, there’s a very good description of the situation in Quetta. It’s one of the reasons why the idea of firing drone missiles there seems to me so implausible:http://www.ctc.usma.edu/sent inel/CTCSentinel-Vol2Iss5.pdfOn the Kerry-Lugar bill, please feel free to discuss it on this post as I’m not sure I’ve got much to say on the subject. Irfan Husain at Dawn has a column on it here:http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect  /dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspape r/columnists/14-irfan-husain-distortions -and-delusions-309-zj-04Mortal,On your comments on the electorate not voting for Hindutva, and on Praveen Togadia no longer being a well-known name, I don’t think that comes across in the outside world. In fact I hear Pakistanis quite often talking about the rise of the right in India, especially after Jaswant Singh was expelled from the BJP over the Jinnah book.But that’s why I said in an earlier post that I try to take the electorate as my starting point. You end up with a different impression.Myra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive
 

hear Pakistanis quite often talking about the rise of the right in India,- Posted by Myra MacDonald==============hmmm. This is hardly new! The single biggest foundation, pillar of pakistani ideology is exaggeration of “Hindu dominance” “Hindu aggression”, etc, etc. Some 70 years ago Gandhi and Nehru were the Hindutvadis for the pakistan ideologues!! These 2 leaders whole heartedly yearned for an Indian identity that transcends religion, but were hated and rejected by the pakistani ideolgues and portrayed as “anti-muslim” and “hindu leaders” and these “facts” are taught to pakistani children as we speak.70 years ago pakistani ideologues claimed 40% minority rights will not be guranteed by the Hindu majority in united India. Now each and every second that India functions normally with equal rights, democracy to 15% muslim minority is a standing testimony against pakistani ideoloy and negation of pakistani ideology. Gujarat riots is a big relief. Nothing bad since then it is unnerving, how can this be true?That’s when Umair decides to google search for Togadia video from 2004.This is what drives them. Agitation against India, war mongering, claiming they are concerned about the rise of right in India, prtending to be chamions of Indian muslims, etc are all part of this aggresion. To acheive imaginary equality/parity with India. This is called “pakistan problem” for India.Physical violence, engineering riots, ect should be condemned by all sane Indians. However, trying to equate BJP with Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba is silly. Some of this is due to the rhetoric of Indian left and Congress and the Westerners join the chorus.The standards of “secularism” demanded out of meek Hindus in the Indian subcontinet are much higher than demanded out of any other majority anywhere else in the world.I am not a “Hindutvadi” but such hypocrisy and double standards is the reason for the growth and popularity of BJP.Hindu tax payers in India pay for Indian muslims to go on Haj pilgrimage. If a BJP leader proposes government should pay for poor Hindus to go to Varanasi or Rameswaram, he will be an extremist. You can safely expect NY Times article “Hindu extremist leader demands …”.If “Hindu domination” “discrimnation” are the reasons for muslim backwardness, pakistan and Bangladesh should have raced ahead of India in economic development. Where are they?

 

@Myra: “On your comments on the electorate not voting for Hindutva, and on Praveen Togadia no longer being a well-known name, I don’t think that comes across in the outside world. In fact I hear Pakistanis quite often talking about the rise of the right in India”I completely agree that right wing extremism exists in some quarters in India, as it does in almost every democracy, including here in the US (Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Bill Cunningham etc) but as the Pakistanis keep saying, is it really on the rise in India? The last elections in May have clearly proven that that is not the case. Not only did the BJP lose but other communal parties like the Shiv Sena, MNS, Bajrang Dal etc also took a drubbing. The BJP fought the last elections on communal lines & keeping in mind the Mumbai attacks, it projected a hawkish stance towards Pakistan on the security issue. But the people out rightly & decisively rejected their agenda. Doesn’t that say something about the mindset about the Indian electorate?Also, regarding all this talk about the rise of the Hindu fundamentalism in India, do you hear it from anyone else, besides Pakistanis? I follow the international media & I’ve hardly ever heard about such a phenomenon anywhere besides the Pakistani media. Not in the western media & not in the middle-eastern media.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

OK, then stand aside and don’t shout!. We’ll drone these little creeps wherever they hide!- Posted by SummerWhy should Pakistanis stand aside? You better pack up and leave Afghanistan. OK send us more drones, we got used to them (remember we control the ground intelligence, so we pick the targets – we save the targets our way).You better not cry receiving bodies and counting causalities every day in response to your ruthless killings. You never won in Afghanistan, you never will. Ask Russians how to recover after Afghanistan disaster.

Posted by atiq | Report as abusive
 

Myra,Firstly it is nice to see you interacting so intensely with bloggers and I’m sure will result in quality discussions over time.As regrads winter conditions, I have no doubt that the Pakistani Army is professional enough. So too are the Taliban who will, if I am not mistaken, be fighting in their own backyard in terrain which they are most familiar with.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive
 

atiq,Good luck. As goes Afghanistan, so goes Pakistan. Do you really think that if the west pulls out of Afhganistan, that they’ll keep giving away billions to support Pakistan? If Afghanistan fails, I give Pakistan a few years at best before it ends up the same boat. The economic and national security (and by extension national cohesion) of Pakistan is directly tied to Afghanistan. If NATO/US fails in Afghanistan, aid to Pakistan will end just as Pakistan faces a newly resurgent Taliban who will set their sights on Pakistan next.As for the Russians losing…well the Afghans had a lot of help didnt they? Maybe we should be more pointed about asking who’s helping the Taliban now.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

This op is too little to late. The held off because of Ramadan. They had over a Corps’ worth of men and machines in the area. But wasted time fasting instead of fighting. You can bet that the militants didn’t fritter their time away. They’ve moved on or blended into the population. A few will fight to put on a show but the Paks will have won another battle with a meaningless victory. They won’t have accomplished much in terms of curtailing the insurgency. And while they talk of fighting, they seem to have no long term plan to stay and rebuild the area (something the west has been demanding for a while). Meanwhile, with every boneheaded operation like this, the credibility of the PA as an ally erodes further. The PA is increasingly seen to lie somewhere between a subversive element and a bumbling, inept force in this war.If the Pakistanis were more reliable, the west would most certainly not have turned to the Russians, the ‘stans’ and even Iran for help. Pakistani talk about protecting their interests seems hollow when they can’t (or won’t) even pacify their own border areas.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

“The PA is increasingly seen to lie somewhere between a subversive element and a bumbling, inept force in this war.”You really believe US/NATO has been very effective in Afghanistan over the last 8 year? What are their accomplishments? It’s much easier to blame other than realize your own mistake. Pakistan did accomplish a lot over the last 6 months. With limited resources they have , Pakistan did a lot and they are capable of doing a lot more. Six months ago, so called experts on this site gave Pakistan a couple of months before it integrate. I guess you are one of them. Pakistan has good strategy of softening the target before it launches operation. They have blockaded and been shelling the area. Seems like good strategy

Posted by asad | Report as abusive
 

“Six months ago, so called experts on this site gave Pakistan a couple of months before it integrate”.I meant “disintegrate “.

Posted by asad | Report as abusive
 

“The PA is increasingly seen to lie somewhere between a subversive element and a bumbling, inept force in this war”.You really believe US/NATO has been very effective in Afghanistan over the last 8 year? What are their accomplishments? It’s much easier to blame other than realize your own mistake. Of cource, Pakistan does it also but they have good reasons (ha ha). With limited resources they have , Pakistan did a lot this year and they are capable of doing a lot more. Six months ago, so called experts on this site gave Pakistan a couple of months before it disintegrate. I guess you are one of them. Pakistan has a good strategy of softening the target before it launches operation. They have blockaded and been shelling the area.

Posted by asad | Report as abusive
 

Mr. Keith,We have faith in ourselves. You are grossly under-estimating Pakistan. When everyone writes us off, we always pull a surprise and we emerge out of any difficult situation.Do not assume that the US is the only power that can bail us out. We have China as our trusted allies. The reason why your countries are beating around the bush is because they are afraid of China moving into the region and taking over the remains. So they will not leave the region. All this talk of Pakistan not helping them enough, drone attacks here and there are basically attempts to prolong the war and stay for as long as possible. Pakistan is easy to blame because no one wants to be our friends at this time. The Americans could have easily taken out OBL and finished the Taliban off in 2001. But they allowed them to escape first and then have been pretending to be chasing them, while conveniently blaming Pakistan.We went after the Taliban inside our borders on our own. And we will finish them off. As far Afghan Taliban, it is up to the Americans to deal with them. If they go to the Russians and others, it is simply more clowns joining he circus.Do not worry. We are not doomed as you wish. We have the Chinese support and you westerners must really be worried about China emerging as the next super power. You guys step out and China will step in and they do not have to answer to anyone. And Pakistan will work with them to build a new world in which the Western power brokers and their side-kicks like India will be pushed to the fringe.We are only counting the number of days for your defeated forces to leave from here. As far keeping Pakistan united and rebuilding it, trust me, we will do it. We have the strength to do it. Long from now, American strategists will be writing books on missing out a golden strategy to win Pakistan’s friendship and support in settling Afghanistan. Good luck.

 

Does anyone seriously think US/NATO are going to withdraw and leave Taliban/AQ with Pakistan’s nukes!Even if there no nukes involved, there is no way US/NATO/Russia will leave Af-Pak alone!No matter how long Obama takes to decide, he has a one way street!

Posted by Sammer | Report as abusive
 

“If the Pakistanis were more reliable, the west would most certainly not have turned to the Russians, the ’stans’ and even Iran for help. Pakistani talk about protecting their interests seems hollow when they can’t (or won’t) even pacify their own border areas.”–>Keith, if you are right, the Paks are more concerned to be appearing to fight militants, rather than actually eliminating their strategic proxy assets for real. It is becoming more and more apparent that the Paks want the U.S. mission in Afghan to fail and are eager to re-install the Taliban as masters of Afghanistan.700,000 Pak Army and they cannot beat a group of 10,000 foreign fighters. Why are we throwing money into the wind, by giving billions USD to an incompetant Military force?If some unprofessional militants can send the Pak Army standing cautious with their tails between their legs, they would not stand a chance against the Indian Army.Pakistan should step aside and ask India for help, if they lack the resources or money, will or courage to root out the Taliban and Al-Qaeda leadership in those hard to get places. I bet India would do it for free and actually produce results.The U.S. is being duped again by Pakistan.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

Keith…I think you either are too naive or simply like to look at situation from one dimention or you are simply anti Pakistan. Let me try to answer some of the points you make and please when you read, do it with OPEN mind.”This op is too little to late. The held off because of Ramadan. They had over a Corps’ worth of men and machines in the area. But wasted time fasting instead of fighting.”Too little? We have lost over 1900 brave security personells during various operations against the militants, countless loss of civilians from sucide bombings. Do you even know how important Ramdan is to Muslims? the fifth pillar of Islam, secondly ever tried to go out of food and water for over 10hrs? I dont think so maybe you wouldnt be blindley typing if you think before you type. On top of that you want them fight in the heat, in that terrain, without any food. Not forgetting the damage and suffering that will be caused to local civillians in this holly month and maybe you forgetting the public opnion and support matters not everything can be achieved with military operations.”You can bet that the militants didn’t fritter their time away. They’ve moved on or blended into the population. A few will fight to put on a show but the Paks will have won another battle with a meaningless victory. They won’t have accomplished much in terms of curtailing the insurgency.”Nor are they fritting in Afghnistan Keith….with so much fire power and worlds best trained soldiers n equipment. As only yesterday 8 Americans soldiers killed and countless afghan soldiers captured.”And while they talk of fighting, they seem to have no long term plan to stay and rebuild the area (something the west has been demanding for a while). Meanwhile, with every boneheaded operation like this, the credibility of the PA as an ally erodes further.”What happened to long term plan in Afghanistan what has been achieved? No long term plan after eight long years even Nato n US Genrals do not agree on the strategy how to combat the lethal insurgency and the time is running out. West has the watches but the millitants have the time, if you like Pakistan’s full co-opration its about time you start to look after the intrest of your so called ally then simply pointing fingers and playing the blame game. By the way this taliban is not yesterdys creations, nor created by solely pakistan but the seeds were sown by the Americans, Saudis and partly ISI.”If the Pakistanis were more reliable, the west would most certainly not have turned to the Russians, the ’stans’ and even Iran for help.”Who stopped you in the first place not to go begging to Russinas for help, certainly not the pakistanis. Even Iranians, well you need to, as there IEDs are proveing very deadly. Personally the Yanks are lucky that Russinas are not using the talibans to play the the same game which americans played in the 70′s.”Pakistani talk about protecting their interests seems hollow when they can’t (or won’t) even pacify their own border areas.”Hollow not realy maybe your thinking is tho, we know what is good n bad for us. USA spending over 3.5 billion Dollars to fence the Mexicans border to stop illegal crossing has it been successfull? I dont think so… so if the superpower cant achieve this what expectations do you have from Pakistan realistically? Have you ever seen the terrain not desret exactly is it? its difficulty terrain and people have been crossing for centuries and tribes living both sides of the border. So in short it is impossible and inpractical. Simple solution why not simply seal the afghan side of the border?Its NOT too late at all, I fully support the opration and so most pakistani. If thats where those cowards are hiding then its time we got them. But yes the homework needs to be done and is almost done. When the time is right the Pak Forces will strike and inshhalah illinate all those cowrds that behead civilians, oragnise sucide issions or impose there way of barbaric life on paksitanis…

Posted by Janbaz | Report as abusive
 

Given the nightmare scenario painted by keith, can we just build a wall along our border with Pak and be done with them. A wall similar to the Israeli-Palestine separation barrier not our current barbed wire stuff. BTW since the security barrier went up the number of attacks on Israel from Palestinians has come down dramatically – statistics are avbl on Israeli ministry of foreign affairs. Despite the constant left liberal bleeding heart rants against it, the WALL works. I guess it is quite expensive but ultimately should save us a much bigger headache later on. And we can focus on building our nation without having to watch our backs constantly. There remains lots to be done in our country for health care, education, agriculture and law and order and basically the wall will help us get on with our lives. I am sorry to say this but how many of us actually cares about what happens to Pakistan except insomuch as it affects India. I do not.BTW, a comment for all the people who claim that the US owes a debt to Pakistan for the CIA proxy Afghanistan war against USSR. Its been 20 years since USSR exited Afghanistan and the US abandoned Afghanistan. 20 years! Don’t you think its time u moved on. Just to give u perspective, 20 years ago, Infosys made profits of <Rs 20 million – today they have profits close to Rs 60,000 million.

Posted by never forget mumbai | Report as abusive
 

I agree with ‘never forget mumbai’ we (India) should build a wall along the border. Pakistan has its problems (e.g. Bomb blast hits UN base in Islamabad). I do not like the idea of looking over my shoulder while trying to make a living. I do not want another attack like the Mumbai attack. No talks and no trade with Pakistan until this whole terrorism is over, but that is not going to happen because Pakistan wants to keep some of the terrorist elements it is being told to eliminate to use against India. Pakistan will hide then under a charity umbrella.If Pakistan Army is going into Waziristan, then are they not a little too late?

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive
 

1) Anyone who thinks building a wall is the answer should read the article by Praveen Swami in CTC Sentinel about the growth of the Indian Mujahideen inside India, and Lashkar-e-Taiba’s international networks:(Scroll down on this pdf document to find the article)http://www.ctc.usma.edu/sentinel  /CTCSentinel-Vol2Iss6.pdf2) Keith, others – do you have a sense of how any operation in Waziristan will impact Afghanistan?Also interested in anything you pick up on which groups were involved in that attack in Nuristan.Myra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive
 

Anyone who thinks building a wall is the answer should read the article by Praveen Swami -Posted by Myra MacDonald—Not sure how tha article contradicts or opposes the idea of erecting a wall. To reduce pakistan’s terrorist activities in India, the visa regime should be further restricted to screened frail elderly.Indian groups are neither sophisticated nor capable of doing Mumbai.Why did pakistan army chose all punjabis for the Mumbai operation you think? There is no way groups in India can undergo such military, naval training and go undetected by Indian security agencies. More importatntly, even the few incidents carried out by Indian-born need logistical support, co-ordination all provided by ISI.==========================MR.ANJUM writes–> “When everyone writes us off, we always pull a surprise and we emerge out of any difficult situation.Do not assume that the US is the only power that can bail us out. We have China as our trusted allies”=========THIS IS called delusions of grandeur. Do you think we don’t read newspapers, internet or watch TV? You are eating out of the hands of American and European tax payers as we speak, but say very ungrateful things. China is not feeding you.YOU do not “emerge out of difficult situation”. You have been bailed out repeatedly by the US and rest of the world for 62 years and you are being kept on life support. Get real.

 

Myra:@On your comments on the electorate not voting for Hindutva, and on Praveen Togadia no longer being a well-known name, I don’t think that comes across in the outside world.–But what do you know about Togadia, please tell that here. By not doing so you are endorsing the lack of knowledge of the “outside world”.Why don’t you tell the readers what you said long time ago that BJP with Kashmir backchannel on its resume was in favor of peace with Pakistan (direct contrast to its common image) and is not simple to say it is rightwing—some thing along these lines you said, if you recall. That was in response to my statement on congress vs BJP during elections. Am I right? That would be media helping the issues. Otherwise this discussion is making perception stuff even murkier than it actually is.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

@Rajeev,I have posted a map before, but it doesn’t work well in a small photo. And re the PA photo, next time I write about Siachen I’ll balance it out with a photo of me with an Indian rifle.-MyraMyra: I am so looking forward to your photograph with rifle :-) Thanks for your involvement in the discussion.Regards,Rajeev

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

@Do not assume that the US is the only power that can bail us out. We have China as our trusted allies.”–Mohammed Anjum–Means you will not even think (yes think in theory even) of becoming self-reliant. After China, who next?@Pakistan is easy to blame because no one wants to be our friends at this time.”–Why not?@The Americans could have easily taken out OBL and finished the Taliban off in 2001. But they allowed them to escape first and then have been pretending to be chasing them, while conveniently blaming Pakistan.”–No ISI has (had) the best intelligence as far as A-Q and Talibans are concerned. you took thousand of terrorist in what is known as “operation evil escape” by the West and “operation great escape” by pak generals.@ As far Afghan Taliban, it is up to the Americans to deal with them.”–No. Pak created Afgh Taliban in 1994 and they must finish them off, if they are allies.@If they go to the Russians and others, it is simply more clowns joining he circus.–more clowns? you mean in addition to Pakistan?@We are not doomed as you wish. We have the Chinese support and you westerners must really be worried about China emerging as the next super power.”–always think of dependence. the unrealistic dreams. you can afford to have them–neither your govt nor the leaders have that luxury.@And Pakistan will work with them (CHINA) to build a new world in which the Western power brokers and their side-kicks like India will be pushed to the fringe.— Oh the dreams again. When was the last time you BUILT A THING. Reality is staring in the face right now. new world order! Indian on the fringe—-Mohammed, it is time to wake up now! Because realities are based on some actions.@We are only counting the number of days for your defeated forces to leave from here. As far keeping Pakistan united and rebuilding it, trust me, we will do it.”–After US/NATO-exit you bring out OBL, Mullah Omar and install them back and the terrorist empire will be back in action. That is the rebuilding you are talking here.IN nutshell, 62 yrs and you cannot even in theory dream that Pakistan will quit terrorism and become a normal nation. Oh Qaide-Azam Jinnah! what Pakistan have you given to the world? Are you rolling in the grave?

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Anyone who thinks building a wall is the answer should read the article by Praveen Swami -Posted by Myra MacDonaldBy this article, I assume you were telling me that there are alternate routes to Jihad via Gulf. Great surprise :) . Frankly, most of the local problems (Indian origin) can be solved by more intelligence on the ground – keeping tabs on SIMI members, profiling for at risk groups, and surveillance on people who travel to Gulf regularly. Unfortunately all this targets minorities disproportionately and we should recognize that this is a short term solution. In the longer run, we need justice, equality before the law and a sense of security for our minorities.I on the other hand remain haunted by nightmares that another Mumbai 26/11 will recur unless we secure our borders with Pak – land and sea. Pakistan lacks either the ability or intention or both to tackle the Terrorists that use Pak as their base (I do not use the word militant on purpose). And I want no part of the blow back if the US Afghanistan misadventure goes South. Who do you think is next on the jihadi hit list up there with US and Israel? India. And unfortunately, we cannot change our geographic location or neighbors :( All I want is to lead my life peacefully – and to the extent that a good security barrier helps us – please lets get it as a starting point.

Posted by never forget mumbai | Report as abusive
 

2) Keith, others – do you have a sense of how any operation in Waziristan will impact Afghanistan?Also interested in anything you pick up on which groups were involved in that attack in Nuristan.Myra- Posted by Myra MacDonaldExcellent question Myra. In my view, not much. Which is why I can’t ever understand why Pakistanis want credit for such operations. Ops in places like Waziristan and Swat are largely so that the Pakistanis can save themselves. That’s in the interest of the west, to be sure. We don’t want to have to deal with another failed state. However, it does very little to help us in Afghanistan. We’ve been very clear that the only actions we consider to be truly helpful from our perspective is the PA going after those groups that are wreaking havoc in Afghanistan. That means groups like Haqqani. Till they do that, I doubt anybody is really going to count them as a reliable ally regardless of however many soldiers they lose fighting anti-Pakistani insurgent groups.Claiming credit for securing their own country is a bit like a parent who wants a reward for raising their own child. It’s something you have to do, not something that’s optional that you deserve a reward for.Yet, the moment you start talking to any Pak official about the groups that really bother us in Afghanistan, they either a) change the subject or b) launch into long polemics about how its a complicated situation and the terrain is difficult, and Pakistan’s interest have to be preserved, blah blah blah. I can’t buy any of this. If that was the case, does that mean that if Haqqani turned on them the Pakistanis would not be able to neutralize a threat to their own country? So they are either lying to us or they have a monster without a leash that they’re hoping will only keep nipping at the neighbours and not them. Either way, that’s not a desirable position to be in, for those that want to stabilize Afghanistan and want a return to stability in Pakistan.As for your second question… sorry nothing at this time.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

Pak-is-tan … Can someone tell me the meaning of the name ??Someone tells me it means .. The Land Of The PURE ??Is this true ??I pray for this once beautiful country with its beautiful people which has sold its soul to the devil..Shafkat

Posted by Shafkat | Report as abusive
 

Keith you said:”Claiming credit for securing their own country is a bit like a parent who wants a reward for raising their own child. It’s something you have to do, not something that’s optional that you deserve a reward for.Yet, the moment you start talking to any Pak official about the groups that really bother us in Afghanistan, they either a) change the subject or b) launch into long polemics about how its a complicated situation and the terrain is difficult, and Pakistan’s interest have to be preserved, blah blah blah. “–>Thank you first of all for giving sobering doses of reality on these blogs, you always have a direct and clear, rationale for all of your statements and arguements.Next, you hear certain bloggers saying how many soldiers they have sacrificed, well that is good that they are finally challenging militantism, or at least appearing to, time will tell. My respects to the soldiers and their families, but this Fungus and Mold of militantism was enabled and allowed to grow by the Pakistan Army and ISI itself, as they sat by idly and complacently, even hoping to weaponize the Jihadi’s for the own means in Afghan and against India, the same Fungus and Mold has started challenging the Pak Army itself.If Pakistani’s are upset about their soldiers dying, they should be, but their anger should be directed at the Pak Army and ISI establishment itself.Pak Army’s love affair with Islamist Militantism must come to a conclusive end. The world also expects it to finish and destroy all strategic proxy army assets and their training camps, supported, morally or otherwise by the State of Pakistan to wage Jihad on India over the lame Kashmir excuse. I find it hard to believe that Pakistan wastes away more than half its GDP, just to save Indian Kashmiri’s. It is to line the pockets of the Punjabi Army and propagate their business model to keep their own employability and profile high, to suit their political propaganda requirements. Kashmir will fix itself, once Pakistan stops fueling terrorism on India. In the mean time, Obama should cut the U.S. Military loose onto Pakistan and let them go strong arm Pakistan, as necessary to get the job done, in a conclusive manner.These Islamist people are uneducated idle vacant miscreants, drunk on needing a mission in life. Pakistan is in dire need of education, capitalism and democracy to civilize its population, while the U.S. will civilize the Pak military.In the mean time, the U.S. troop surge is slated at around 40,000 troops. It should be much more, it should be around 200,000 troops, Afghanistan.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

Shafkat, you said:”I pray for this once beautiful country with its beautiful people which has sold its soul to the devil..”–>You may be right, but avg Pakistani’s choose to keep on seeing India as some sort of green horned devil, hellbent on destroying Pakistan. This absolutely false, incorrect and total propaganda thrust on Pakistani’s so that the Army can get their political support to justify their military budgets, existence and business model.The people of Pakistan have been lied to by the masters of Pakistan, the Army and ISI and to some extent the Saudi’s who are fueling Wahhabism.We have a saying in Hinduism, when you see evil in other people, it is actually evil that you are project onto others, which is originating from your own mind and own heart.The only way to cut the chain from the devil, is people need to start thinking more positively and quit this blind hatred against India, Kaffirs, Israel and non-muslims alike. All peoples are human beings FIRST, before they are christians, muslims or hindus.The actual devil is within all of us, when we devalue human life, constantly or have been told to devalue other humans who are not as good as us, because they practice a different belief, we become the hands of the devil, when we devalue the human life of other peoples, nations and cultures. With respect to Pakistan, avg Pakistani’s some of them willfully choose to be hands of the devil, perhaps without knowing it, and a misplaced sense of nationality and misplaced sense of religious mission.When you project negativity towards others, like the militants and some Pakistani’s do, they will always suffer at the hands of their own doing and always fall on their own knife and never end this vicious cycle of hatred that keeps one drunk on venom and unwilling to accept blame for oneself and responsibility, that is the true evil.Pakistan as a culture, has to break free from the mental shackles of the daily propaganda, that is keeping them from seeing the truth. Until they choose to break that cycle, the collective thoughts and actions of Pakistani citizens will determine their future and the kind of life that they are going to have.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

Myra,Let me respond to your question about the likely conduct of the operation in Waziristan by the Pakistani Army.1. Taliban Strategy. This operation is not against a dug-in army or a linear defence. Taliban will be staging ambushes on the advancing troops while bringing them on to a system of strong points defence. Their aim is to inflict as much damage as possible on the troops and then break the cordon and dissolve into the surrounding sanctuaries. As long as they escape in good numbers they can claim victory. The consequences for Pakistan of this will be serious, though not disastrous.2.Pakistan Army Strategy. Scenario A. Going in without substantial help from Lashkars.Pakistani Artillery, supported by the Air Force are going to unleash murderous bombardment and shelling on the strong points inficting heavy casualties. Then the Infantry operating as the vanguard, supported by tanks (wherever possible) and gunship helicopters is going to swiftly overrun the strong points(6 to 8). Cleansing of secondary objectives will be taken up by a composite force of Frontier Corps and whatever Lashkar that they could muster (7,000-10,000). This operation will result in a higher number of casualties but chances of this succeeding are good.Scenario B. Going in with a big Lashkar (15,000-20,000).The pulverising phase will be the same as Scenario A. but the Army will only go for the bigger pockets (4 to 5)and have the reserve troops alongwith the Lashkars for doing a thorough mopping up and enforcing a mobile cordon around the Taliban. This scenario will enable the army to capture a lot of Taliban. Chances of success: good to excellent with fewer casualties.Most important aspect is the participation of the National Lashkar.Use of drones will be crucial to take out the leadership.Operation will probably be over in a week.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive
 

Myra,I missed an important part of your question – about the impact of Waziristan operation on Afghanistan.Well, even the imminency of this operation alone is having a salutary effect on Pak-Afghan-NATO alliance.This operation will be a major disruption for the Pakistani Taliban in their role as a conduit of support for the Afghan Taliban. This will also foster deeper trust among the Allies. This operation will also prove that Pakistan is not only thinking of its own national interest but also that of its friendly neighbour, Afghanistan. A major success in Waziristan will decimate the taliban numbers and they will learn to their detriment that a determined modern military force will eventually prevail against their ill founded insurgency.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive
 

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