Pakistan: Getting Waziristan right this time

October 6, 2009

U.S. defence officials, in a ringing vote of confidence, said over the weekend that Pakistan had the forces and equipment to launch a long-awaited ground offensive in South Waziristan. It could mount this assault without seeking more reinforcements, a U.S. official said, according to this Reuters report. Yet Pakistan had cited in recent months shortages of helicopters, armoured vehicles and precision weapons in putting off a Waziristan assault.So what has changed? Has the United States,  desperate to turn around a faltering war in Afghanistan, got ahead of itself in nudging Pakistan toward “the mother-of-all battles”? Some people are asking if the Pakistan Army is really ready to start what must be its bigest test yet since the militants turned on the Pakistani state. If the idea is to go in and linflict casualties on the Taliban in the hope of killing senior leaders, then it will be another punitive strike for which the force levels may well be adequate.But if the Pakistan Army plans to go into the Mehsud strongholds and occupy the region then the numbers are a bit worrying, says Bill Roggio at The Long War Journal.  A Pakistan Army spokesman has said that  two divisions, or up to 28,000 soldiers, are in place to take on an estimated 10,000 hard-core Taliban. But Roggio says Waliur Rehman Mehsud, who heads the Mehsud Taliban forces in Waziristan, (Hakimullah Mehsud who surfaced at the weekend is the overall head of the Pakistani Taliban) is estimated to command anything between 10,000 to 30,000 forces.  If the army were to wage a full-scale counter-insurgency they and the Frontier Corps “would need to throw multiple divisions against a Taliban force of this size,” he argues. And then there is the Haqqani network, as well as a sizeable contingent of Uzbek and other non-Pakistani fighters in the area. They may well join the fight, according to the Dawn newspaper.Pakistani expert Imtiaz Gul, who heads the  Independent Centre for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad, calls Waziristan a “blackhole” for security and intelligence forces. At least 800 pro-government tribal elders and intelligence officials have lost their lives to Taliban and al Qaeda assassins in Waziristan and adjacent tribal areas, most of them in the last four years, eroding Pakistani intelligence from the region and in turn forcing a greater reliance on U.S. drone surveillance and strikes, he says in a piece for the AFPAK channel for Foreign Policy.Gul reckons one of the prime objectives of the impending military assault would be to take out the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan entrenched there and whose powerful leader Tahir Yuldashev is believed to have been killed in a U.S. drone strike in August.Some others are saying there is actually no public estimate of the total number of Waziri fighters, and that the Pakistan Army might end up in a 1:1 ratio with the militants, which is far too low to sustain a counter-insurgency campaign, let alone win it. You can’t help recalling again the oft-quoted words of Lord Curzon, the turn-of-the-century British Viceroy of India, who said : ”No patchwork scheme will settle the Waziristan problem. Not until the military steamroller has passed over the country from end to end, will there be peace. But I do not want to be the person to start that machine.”And even if Pakistan were willing to run the steamroller it may just not be avaialble to it, not yet at least.Sameer Lalwani in a study for the New America Foundation says that the Pakistan Army is already overstretched with the Swat operation and lacks the capacity to  expand the fight. The study provides a fairly detailed assessment of Pakistani capabilities for a counter-insurgency campaign focussing on  1) the nature of the insurgency, including its strength, capabilities, tactics, and strategic objectives; 2) the terrain challenges posed by the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and 3) current and potential Pakistani potential military capabilites.  Here is the PDF of the full report.In short, Lalwani argues that 370,000 and 430,000 more troops would be needed in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas  and the North West Frontier Province region to meet the minimum force-to-population ratios prescribed by standard counter-insurgency (COIN) doctrine, much higher than current Pakistani deployments of 150,000, and even this is no assurance of success given adverse conditions.It is too big for the army alone, and  would need the calling up of reserves and also greater reliance on the poorly-equipped Frontier Corps. And the Pakistan Army would resist redeployment of more forces from the Indian border because for it, the Indians remain an enduring threat.And as Roggio asks is the state ready for the blow back from a full-scale assault? The militants have repeatedly attacked cities each time they have come under pressure. On Monday, a suicide bomber breached the tightly guarded office of the United Nations World Food Programme in a residential part of Islamabad, killing five people.[Photographs of Hakimullah Mehsud and paramilitary soldiers]

62 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Lets be honest here.The world is pushing Pakistan into doing things they are no comfortable doing.1)Ditching Taliban2)Not using terrorism as a state policy3)Implementing democracy4)Providing transparency into matters such as using financial aid and other grants.and I could go on.But do we realise that pakistan has never had to implement such radical changes in its entire history.Has anyone thought about the implications of forcing such rapid & radical changes in an underdeveloped country with flawed economic environment?Ever since WOT began I have only been reading about different crisis in Pakistan, economic, social, religious, political and imminent threats of collapse and civil war etc etc. Its like watching a train crash in slow motion. Even the name of this blog is “Now or never”We are thinking of how to force PA in taking the right action in Waziristan, Karachi etc but in the process are we creating a new problem??While we all have our wishlist which we are demanding from Pak, how many of us realise that they dont want to do all these things?The carrot and stick approach has been used on the donkey for the last 8 years, the question is what will be the last straw on the donkey’s back before it collapses?

Posted by indian1127 | Report as abusive

Given the quality of Pakistani troops (who although professional, have no where near the training and experience of the average western warfighter) and how under-resourced they are (in one episode I had relayed to me, a Pak soldier was found wearing two sweaters for lack of a winter coat), I would suggest that the 10:1 ratio is probably not enough. It took half a decade for NATO/US forces to learn how to fight an insurgency. Only now are they really taking it seriously. Pakistan has a long, long way to go. They still haven’t put forward the second (and arguable more vital) part of their COIN plan: the aid and development component. So either they don’t intend to actually develop the area or they simply haven’t realized how insurgencies are fought (notwithstanding their use of some rather questionable methods in East Pakistan and Balochistan). Those 28 000 troops (a corps sized task force) are in no way even close to sufficient, if there really are 10 000 “hard core” Taliban. They won’t last a week with numbers like that. They’ll need way more than that, especially if groups like the Haqqanis join in….than they’ll have a taste of what we have in Afghanistan. Then again it could all just be a show they put on before signing the latest peace deal.The only way for them to free up the numbers they need is to pull the troops away from the eastern border. It’s a difficult choice for the Pakistanis. Swallow their pride and accept the so-called India threat is not as bad as they like to claim it is, to tackle the cancer that is metastasizing in the FATA and NWFP or risk that cancer destroying the body (Pakistan) while they keep their focus on India. It would not be a difficult choice for any other country. It seems to be for Pakistan though. Hopefully, they’ll have reached the realization that there’s no way India would attack them (it’s never initiated hostilities in the past) while they are engaging the Taliban seriously. If there’s one thing the Indians dislike more than the Pak Army, it’s the Taliban.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/world/ asia/06islamabad.html?_r=1&th&emc=thU.S. Push to Expand in Pakistan Meets Resistance- Posted by UmairHave a gander at the comments. You’ll get an impression of how most Americans feel about these Pakistani concerns in light of the aid that Pakistan is receiving.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Keith makes an interesting point that 28,000 troops that the Pakistani army is ready to deploy may not be enough for the 10,000 hard-core Taliban supposed to be in the region. What is the number required then ? Where does it get these numbers from ? The eastern border with India ? But is New Delhi in a mood to make conciliatory gestures to make it easier for the Pakistani army to pull back ? All very interesting.

Posted by Sanjeev Miglani | Report as abusive

Given that western warfighting doctrine relies on ratio of 10:1 for a persistent counter-insurgency operation, I would think that the Pakistanis should field that 10:1 ratio of just fighting troops. That means a force size of at least 100 000 for Waziristan alone when you take into account support personnel and such.It’s not just the quality of Pakistani warfighting abilities that is a concern. Their tooth-to-tail ratio (combat to support personnel) ratio is also way off. They count the chai wala in their mess as part of their nominal roll despite the fellow not contributing much in terms of combat power. Next, they are largely trained in attrition warfare using set-piece battles. Dynamic scenarios employing combined arms, special capabilities (SOF, psyops, civil affairs, etc.) for success in effects based operations (and that’s really the heart of winning any insurgency) is a whole new ball game for them.Sadly, they still have not found a way of translating the lessons from Balochistan, and Swat and other places, into a cohesive counter-insurgency doctrine that can be employed universally. Till they do that, they can’t win. And they most certainly won’t with 28 000 troops (particularly if the Chai wala is carrying a tray instead of a rifle).

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

http://www.newamerica.net/files/NAFPakis tanSept09.pdfPlease note Table 3 on page. It gives you a rough idea of what Pakistan would need to win over here. The 28 000 are only sufficient for a raid. If they don’t intend to actually continue exercising sovereignty over the area (and shuttering the Afghan insurgent safe havens), then they need way more than that. The closest equivalent I can think of would be the Indian experience in Punjab. The least resources mission on that table was the Brits in Northern Ireland. And that lasted 30 years. Unless the Paks intend on taking 3 decades to finish the job they should bring more workers for the job.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Pakistan’s Waziristan adventure might blow up on their faces. They have hesitated to go near the Taliban all these years. Now they are forced to whack the beehive. Their masters (read as the US and their allies) are standing around making Pakistan dig around the beehive. The PA will have to resort to utterly brutal means to wipe out the clans in Waziristan. If they did any half hearted attempts, the elements will spread in all directions and hurt them even more. Many normal people in the region are going to bear the brunt of the war. And they will turn against the establishment. A hurt Pathan is worse than a wild boar. They should go after Mullah Omar and finish him off first. Otherwise he is going to get more support from the Pakistani Pathans.

Sorry. It was page 30. And by my math 100 000 troops (overall force ratio of 10:1) is whats needed to win. Though if you want a real ratio of fighting men, you’d probably have to be up to 125-150k. A defender can defend 1:2 against him in a prepared defence. That means the Paks have enough to stalemate, or take heavy casualties and win. There’s a real risk they’ll loose with such few troops as well.

Posted by keith | Report as abusive

Go to jail or join jihad against India: ISI tells surrendered Talibanhttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.co m/india/Go-to-jail-or-join-jihad-against -India-ISI-tells-surrendered-Taliban/art icleshow/5095277.cmsLooks like ISI is trying to hide some Taliban in Indian Kashmir!SOmebody was suggesting that Indian army make conciliatory gestures! I like the idea! Why guard the border. Let talibans cross easily to India and set up camps on Indian side!

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

Andy has it exactly right. Whenever Pakistan allocates troops to FATA, some “unfortunate incident” sours relations with India and so the army takes its foot off the TTP’s throat. I hope Chidambran and his team are focused and better prepared than last November.When will the US admit to itself that Pakistan’s efforts are directed at anti-government [Pakistani] factions and not anti-India/anti-ISAF/anti-ANA groups. The this kind of “punitive expedition” will only temporarily disrupt TTP operations but clearly does not signal a far reaching or long term shift in Pakistan’s strategy: do as little as possible on the western border to keep the Congress pacified and the aid flowing, take on/rein in “rogue” militant, and bring on board those groups who are willing to “get with program” in Afghanistan and Kashmir once US departs.Why would Pakistan abandon its hedging strategy precisely at the moment when US commitment appears to at its most uncertain?

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

Someone keep talking about quality of Pakistani troops. What is the quality of western troops in Afghanistan? what have they accomplished in 8 yrs? Given the resources they have, what Pakistani army has accomplished during last 6 months? Being 1/8 size of India, Pakistan has stood up to India in 3 wars. Can you say same about India and China. India got defeated pretty bad by China in 60′s war.Bottom line is, considering resources they have, Pakistani army, specially it’s PAF is very good.”Sadly, they still have not found a way of translating the lessons from Baluchistan, and Swat and other places, into a cohesive counter-insurgency doctrine that can be employed universally.”I guess superior Western troops have their strategy down in Afghanistan pretty good.???

Posted by asad | Report as abusive

KeithThe way you are criticizing and questioning the combat capabilities of Pakistan Army is ironic when compared to US/NATO progress in Afghanistan. What have the international forces achieved in Afghanistan during last 8 years? today the Taliban are resurgent.While I appreciate you accept Pakistan Army to be professional, I would also like to remind you the motto of Pakistan Army:1. IMAN (Faith)2. TAQWA(Piety)3. JIHAD FI-SABILLIAH (Fight in the path of Allah)These recent COIN ops by Pakistan Army are named as “OPERATION RAH-E-RAST” which means operation ‘straight path’. A Pakistan Army soldier motivated to fight in the straight path i.e. in the path of Allah, will overcome every difficulty. It will not matter if the weather is very cold and there is no winter coat, it will not matter if he is outnumbered by the enemy and if the enemy has more sophisticated material and more men.The western warfighting doctrine has failed in Afghanistan, let Pakistan Army apply its own COIN strategy.Now click on followinghttp://www.pakistanarmy.gov.pk/ AWPReview/TextContent.aspx?pId=265&rnd=4 66Training Philosophy of Pakistan ArmyThe philosophy of Pakistan Army Training is therefore, “To achieve excellence in combat” by directing all our endeavours toward developing strong faith in Allah, imbibing self reliance, aggressive spirit, self discipline and an enlightened leadership while remaining cost effective. The aforementioned philosophy, thus, is translated into a practical system to develop an inspired commitment to training in all ranks to ensure following:•A highly professional, combat worthy Army through better training and morale superior to that of the enemy.•To win while out numbered, it must possess and display aggressive attitude and offensive spirit.•All ranks especially leaders must display highest standard of professionalism, greater amount of initiative and self reliance.•The training system worthy of absorbing the sophisticated weapons/ equipment and at the same time ensuring highest possible standards of maintenance in order to offset the quantitative edge in weapons/ equipment of our adversary.•Desirable physical and mental endurance/fitness.•Self discipline and enlightened leadership.-Keith, no wonder Pakistan Army today undertakes humanitarian and relief ops, is highest contributor to UN peacekeeping ops worldwide, has a rich combat history and is a completely volunteer force. Once the Army starts its campaign in Waziristan only then will be its success measured. Think before you compare the Pakistan Army with western forces and make conclusion based on facts, not just notions.Lastly just wanted to share another link:ISPR Press Release:http://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/mai n.asp?o=t-press_release&id=914122 Corps Commanders Conference was held at General Headquarters today. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani chaired the day long meeting.Kerry Lugar bill also came under discussion during the conference. The forum expressed serious concern regarding clauses impacting on National Security. A formal input is being provided to the Government. However, in the considered view of the forum, it is the Parliament, that represents the will of the people of Pakistan, which would deliberate on the issue, enabling the Government to develop a National response.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

“A hurt Pathan is worse than a wild boar. They should go after Mullah Omar and finish him off first. Otherwise he is going to get more support from the Pakistani Pathans.”–>Absolutely true. The Pak Army should decapitate Mullah Omar’s group and capture or eliminate the man, by any means.Pak Army is going to suffer high casualties. They have 700,000 Army and are unwilling to use it. Their fictitious war with India is causing them to rot within.It is time to destroy’s Pak Army’s business model as keeping India as an enemy. India should propose a staged drawdown with pakistan Army to free more Pak troops. I think India would be receptive to this, but Pakistan has not asked.It would be a noble cause to destroy terrorism. I guarantee 1million percent that India has no intention of invading pakistan. In fact India would be glad to help, if they can.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

“Looks like ISI is trying to hide some Taliban in Indian Kashmir!SOmebody was suggesting that Indian army make conciliatory gestures! I like the idea! Why guard the border. Let talibans cross easily to India and set up camps on Indian side!- Posted by Andy “–>If this is true, then the ISI is underming the peace process. Perhaps drones should include the ISI in their list.We Indians do not give in to terrorists. We have the patience to let Pakistan look foolish and like liars, on their own.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

Keith, one more thing in defeating militantism, is the madrassas AND flow of Saudi Wahhabi money.The are the recruiting ground, where young children’s minds are perverted to do suicide attacks.The Madrassas must be destroyed, one by one. Once the Taliban are defeated, the most dangerous place will be Kashmir. This is where Taliban assets are being shipped off by Pak state agencies, while coverman Zardari does the sales pitch to get more cash to fuel terrorism by Pakistan unto India.It also needs to be made clear to the Saudi’s that they are not spreading Islam, but spreading murder and chaos.This whole Kashmir thing is going to blow up in Pakistan’s face. They have grossly miscalculated their stance and the political perception against them worldwide. They do not know it, but they will continue to strengthen India, its image, by attacking it.There will come a day, when there are no more Jihadi’s left to cross the LOC, that is a certainty.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/10/05/c linton.gates/index.htmlSanjeev, its official, the U.S. is there to stay in Afghanistan, until the mission is completed. Pakistani’s take note, as this is a good opportunity to reform and change and completely eliminate all terrorism, even all of that targeted against India, by your state agencies. It is not too late, it is time to release another 200,000 Pakistani soldiers from Eastern Front with India to eliminate Taliban. Do it and do it now.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

Prepare to fight China, Qaeda figure tells Uighurshttp://www.reuters.com/article/la testCrisis/idUSL7516001I am excited see Chinese cute red mini-skirt terrorists with ugly beard AQ terrorists.

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

Most of the bloggers above have no idea what the aims and objectives are for the Pakistani Army operation or about the description and the size of the Taliban/Al-Qaeda force. The Pakistani Army is not fighting the tribes but only the criminal elements amongst them who have been augmented with Uzbeks, Chechens and Afghans from across the border. This lunatic fringe has always existed and the tribes, who are patriotic Pakistanis, have always cooperated with the FC in taking them out. Even the numbers of the insurgent force are grossly exaggerated and are most probably in the region of 5,000-8,000. Pakistani Army does not plan to police the area after the operation and will leave that task to the FC who have always been doing the task since 1947. New Army cantonments in the area will of course be helpful. As regards guaging the quality of Pakistan troops against insurgency; one has only to look at how quickly they snuffed out the Swat insurgency and brought the people back to their homes. I think the sacrifices of Pakistani Army have rewritten the rules of engagement and have provided some bright spots in this war.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

The Pakistani military mafia infuriated over stipulations in the US aid bill which empower Pakistan’s civilian Govt & pressurize the army to destroy the Taliban in Quetta & LeT in Mudrike:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/0 8/world/asia/08pstan.html?_r=1&hpw

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

Finally the truth comes out!Pakistan is not a democracy! It’s a military controlled State! Military decides internal and external policy!Pakistan’s military rejects strings on US aidhttp://blog.taragana.com/n/pakistans- military-rejects-strings-on-us-aid-compl icating-efforts-against-al-qaida-189895/

Posted by Sameer | Report as abusive

Army/ISI are now threatening Zardari and his ambassador to US, Haqqani!http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_st ory_detail.asp?Id=24907

Posted by Sameer | Report as abusive

Umair,Are you going to answer any question or keep running from topic to topic?You mentioned about Praveen Tagodia. I have never heard about him before. When I asked you some questions, you ran away.You mentioned about Kashmir. When I asked you about the legality of Pakistan’s claim over Kashmir, you ran away.Do you really want to discuss or keep running?

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive

Hey Umair,If the path of Pakistan Army/ISI are so straight, then:Why are they hiding the ISI officers involved in the Mumabi terrorism?Why the court proceedings are so secret and no reporters or journalists allowed?Why kidnap and disappear the family members of the Mumbai terrorists?Why not accept the dead bodies of 9 Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai Morgue?

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive

Has Pakistan lost its honour?Is Obama too soft or naive on Pakistan? Was Armitrage right?”The following day, he said, his intelligence chief was told by Colin Powell’s deputy, Richard Armitage, that Pakistan was “either with America or with the terrorists, but that if we were with the terrorists we should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age.”http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news  /deannelson/100012791/has-pakistan-lost -its-honour/

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

Kerry blames ISI-Taliban ‘ties’ for Afghan failurehttp://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx  ?id=107748&sectionid=3510203

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

Umair,My criticism is constructive criticism. If anything I’ve said is scathing, point it out. I have suggested that the PA although professional lacks some equipment, capability and experience do the job.You will find that the various audit bodies, think tanks and policy bodies make equally blunt and far stronger criticisms about our military forces in the west. None of us take offence to it. And it does not injure our national pride. We work to overcome these shortcomings.As for your comparison to NATO/US performance in Afghanistan. I wholeheartedly agree we aren’t doing well. Because we don’t have enough troops and resources there. However, that’s not relevant to this discussion at hand. This is a threat faced by Pakistan. Are you suggesting that poor performance by NATO/US forces in Afghanistan, makes it acceptable for Pakistani forces to perform poorly and slack off on the security of Pakistan? Do you feel happy that you are better off when your house is on fire but your neighbour’s has burned down?Your rhetoric aside, the motto of an Army will not help them win. Only a fool would believe that (or someone who has not served). And it does not matter how brave a soldier is, if you don’t give him the tools (like a winter jacket) he’s useless. Islam and fancy mottos can’t overcome biology. A soldier’s performance degrades in the cold. That’s reality. He isn’t going to be of much use if he’s hypothermic. KeAs for Western doctrine being a failure…just wait for it. We just developed it. It’s unfortunate that it took so long (mostly because the Americans ran off to Iraq and got distracted). But the new COIN doctrine is now in place and the new AfPak strategy is being developed.On ther other hand, Pakistan has no counter-insurgency doctrine. If you can find a document/link that annunciates such a doctrine post it. A training philosophy is not a doctrine. Ask one of your Army friends what the difference is.Lastly, drop the Islam stuff. It’s not going to help the PA. The enemy has Islam too (they also have mottos and winter coats). In fact, every military force thinks they have God on their side when they go to war. Yet strangely enough God always seems to let one side down. I rather have well equipped troops than go into battle hoping God is on my side.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

The question of troop number is an interesting one. They clearly aren’t going in with enough force. Given that a fixed defence allows a defender to face off with 1:2 odds, that means the 10 000 Taliban could hold off at least 20 000 Pak troops. Given the tooth to tail ratio of the PA, they are basically fielding about that many fighting men (or less).This is setting the ground for some major casualties. They would have been better off using overwhelming force. I can’t understand what kind of commander would choose to play with half a deck.On the other hand, the force ratio could indicate that they intend to do a quick raid and just want to intimidate the Mehsuds, the Wazirs, and associated insurgent groups (CNG, BMG, etc.) and sign another (probably useless) peace accord.I consider the second scenario more likely. I would hope that the Pakistani generals aren’t incompetent (or cocky) enough to believe that they can rout the insurgents with less than a 3:1 force ratio while fighting in the insurgents homeland using a Pak Army force that’s not familiar with the local language (and maybe some local customs as well).

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Balochis are being treated in the same manner as Bangalis were being treatedpeople of Balochistan are not eligible for jobs in PIAIn the past Bengalis were also said to be ineligible and deprived from government jobs but now those people are running the system of a separate country. After several years now about the people of Balochistan is said that they are not eligible for the government jobshttp://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details .php?id=153043

Posted by Pete | Report as abusive

Mansoor Siddiqui,Some excellent comments and analysis, sir. However, I’d challenge a few of your points. Are you suggesting that the enemy in Swat is analogous in capability the one in Swat? I would suggest that what’s waiting in Waziristan is far, far worse. Next is the issue of the enemy’s numbers. Given the performance of the militants to date, and their tribal alliances, is there any reason to doubt that they could muster up 10 000 fighters?Next, if all the plan to engage are the Uzbeks and Chechens, then why take 28 000 troops? Clearly they expect others to fight. And if they don’t plan on policing the area, then why the new cantonments? That 28 000 number raises more questions than answers.Finally their performance in Swat. You’re right it was decent. But only because it involved the deployment of overwhelming force (that approached that 10:1 ratio). It allowed them to employ conventional tactics as opposed to small unit tactics, SOF, pysops, etc. in any large fashion. The bulk of the fighting was conventional attrition warfare against the insurgents with some basica combined arms warfare. Anything above and beyond like the deep SOF strike into northern Swat was independent of the main battle.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Obamam alomost decided …War will move to Pakistan .. to AQhttp://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/worl d/asia/08prexy.html?_r=1&hp

Posted by Ramin | Report as abusive

Very interesting discussion on Pakistani army capabilities and force levels required for an operation such as this. Are there any comparable figures out there on soldiers to militants fighting ratio for other or previous wars?Brookings, as many of you probably know, has added Pakistan to the security index they put out and in that assessment say thatit is doing better than Afghanistan this year. Here the link :http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2009/ 1007_afghanistan_iraq_pakistan_ohanlon.a spx

Posted by Sanjeev Miglani | Report as abusive

Hello Keith, in your previous posts you said the followng: PA is deemed ill-equipped/trained because…1. A soldier was wearing two jerseys.2. A soldier was seen bearing a tray with chai and not a rifle.Come on Keith! If you base your opinion of an army’s capabilities on such “observations” then you are falling below your own standards of analysis. However responding to your “jerseys” thing: the soldier in question was using his initiative in staying warm by putting an extra layer. In your view he would be much more professional if he were putting on a designer jacket by YSL. The Pakistani soldier is much more resourceful when it comes to battlefield conditions.The “chai” thing is interesting too. A steaming hot cuppa on a cold frosty morning can uplift the spirits of a soldier tremendously. The kitchen detail with the PA can give you a hot cuppa in matter of minutes. Your contension that Pakistan employs support troops like kitchen staff in higher poportion to other armies is not true. I would love to read a comparative analysis if you can provide it. I’m not working on it because the onus falls on you!Let me tell you some thigs that you may not be knowing about the insurgency and Waziristan. There have always been trouble-makers who have been using their remoteness and ability to cross the border to do illegal activities. When there is trouble in Afghanistan then its party time for these guys. When PA comes in force then party time is over. The insurgents are just rabble rousers (Afghan Taliban are different) who will soon give up after army show their resolve and be good citizens again. You don’t have to “exterminate” them. All Pakistan has to do is to keep them manageable, happy and prosperous. You seem to think that a battle is brewing like The battle of the Bulge or something. These guys are not fighting for a cause or Islam or anything. They are just enjoying themselves as long as there is trouble in Afghanistan.

Posted by mansoor siddiqui | Report as abusive

Also Keith:The tribes are sick of this trouble and would certainly put out a “cast of thousands” or a lashkar if need arises. There goes your discussion on required troop strengths!Also know that Swat is not a tribal area and the PA did the entire thing on their own with minimal participation of the public. I want you to acknowledge the great accomplishment of PA. Also please acknowledge the speedy (two weeks) resettlement of Swat by PA.Also PA’s mere prsence may do the job in Waziristan. The weeks ahead will be interesting.I am enjoying this Keith. Regards.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

KeithYour constructive criticism on Pakistan Army is a positive thing in my view. As far as the upcoming Waziristan offensive is concerned, I will add to what Mansoor Siddiqui has pointed out. Pakistan Army has sufficient force level and equipment on ground as of now to launch the offensive on ground along with close air support from Pakistan Air Force fighters. Months of preparations have gone into this, considerable political and military preparation has been made.The two divisions aprox. 28000 strong force is based mostly in FR Bannu base camp near South Waziristan. The insurgent number between 12000 including foreign fighters most notable the (IMU) Islamic movement of Uzbekistan the Uzbeks.The last time in March 2004 Pakistan Army launched an 12 days operation in Waziristan which did result in little success and some casualties. Today those lessons are learned by Pakistan Army, this time in 2009 five years later the force level is 4 times as much. more preparation and the benefit of having learned lessons from the 2004 campaign. Both the Pakistan Air Force with fighter jets and US with drones have soften targets with months of aerial strikes weakening the millitants.Once Pakistan Army moves in ground offensive the millitants might call in reinforcements from neighbouring Orakzai and Khyber agencies or simply flee Waziristan. However, Pakistan Army has effectively cultivated tribal alliances to deny escape routes and choke the millitants. There will be allied tribal commanders in western Waziristan along the Afghan border and military forces south of Waziristan in Balochistan. To the east, Pakistani forces will be stationed in the NWFP districts and frontier regions of Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Lakki Marwat and Bannu and the districts of Karak and Hangu. The only hole is in north waziristan where the Army will need to gain support of millitant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur. Also the support of Haqqani network will be needed to defeat the TTP Taliban. FATA is a region with complex political dynamics well understood by Pakistan Army, the Army is going to keep the region autonomous and leave after the campaign. The FC-Frontier Constabulary will do the policing later. Indeed, this time Pakistan Army has the upper hand and prayers of the nations. Also the operation in Waziristan is different from Swat, Waziristan is more complex due to foreign fighters there having larger implications. While Waziristan op is not going to be simple, Pakistan Army seems to be up to the task.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

a link on training camps being run by Militanys groups in punjab Pakistan…http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/con nect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/paki stan/provinces/04-fears-rise-over-milita nts-punjab-qs-13

Posted by Peace111 | Report as abusive

Thank you Umair for giving us the details. Very informative. I think we (including Keith) should keep the blogs going as the operation develops. My prediction is that the entire operation will take less than a week. The lashkars are going to be much in evidence. Don’t be surprised if hundreds of Uzbeks are captured.We are witnessing a major historical development.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

Mansoor,You should read what I posted carefully. I never slagged the soldier. As one who wears a uniform myself, I would never slag another who chooses to do the same. What is disconcerting though if that after receiving billions in economic and military assistance, we come across soldiers who have not been issued winter jackets. By the way, this lad we came across was wearing his two shirts in winter in Islamabad. It may not be a Canadian prairie winter, but I don’t consider it appropriate for any system that decides to prioritize F-16 upgrades over winter jackets for its men.As for the chai wala anecdote, I don’t doubt the value of the kitchen train. Our military too runs on coffee and tea and soup from the kitchen train. That being said, our commanders don’t include their logistics personnel and service battalions when calculating combat power. This is a practice that several liaisons, attaches and advisors have observed in Pakistan where personnel posted to combat battalions are assigned non-combat roles but are still nominally counted as combat personnel. The Indians have similar practices. Perhaps it’s something y’all inherited from the colonial era. I don’t know. But there seems to consensus among most western analysts that the Pakistani tooth-to-tail ratio is not as advertised with the attendant consequences for combat power of the force.On Swat. Read my post again. I suggested that their performance was decent but it relied on significant numbers….numbers they don’t seem to be fielding in Waziristan. That’s what allowed Swat to be done in two weeks (though even pacification there has required a cantonment and the Army is planning to stay up to a year there). You seem to suggest that the enemy is of a poorer quality in Waziristan. I sincerely doubt that. The coming fight will tell us who’s right. But for my money, the Mehsuds and Wazirs are much more like to put up a stiff fight than the Swatis. Throw in the Uzbeks and the Chechens and you have a real party over there. I doubt I would characterize any of them as “rabble rousers”.That leads to what I find the most disturbing part of your post: the assertion that these folks are a nuisance who can simply be pacified by the PA. Contrary to your belief, nobody is calling for their extermination. We are calling on Pakistan to maintain law and order in that area so that it doesn’t become a launchpad and safe haven for global jihadists and Afghan insurgents. If this is truly the attitude of the Pakistan Army, then we’ve been right to doubt its credibility as an ally, if it has no intention of actually pacifying the area, but is simply going in to stop the rowdiness. I guess that explains why the nearly million man army would only field 28 000 personnel to deal with a serious threat inside its borders: it doesn’t take the threat all that seriously.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

It is the weather Keith! PA/IA are hot weather armies and the Western Armies are cold weather. The Red Coats were never comfortable, weatherwise, in their 200 years in India. Going by your standards PA could raise may be only five divisions. If you were the CinC of PA what would YOU do?The common mistake “Western Analysts” make is to equate Pakistan with Afganistan. Pakistan is not facing a civil war. A tiny sliver of its territory is affected and even within that area we have patriotic Pakstanis who would not let things reach catastrophic levels. It is simply not in their interest to do that.PA has a duty, however, to help Afghanistan get back on its feet. If the West is helping them do that then PA should be grateful. But this “billions in aid” thing should not be rubbed in while PA has committed more troops/suffering more casualties than the entire ISAF. The alternative would be to spend a $100bn to bring in even half as many troops as the PA.By the way I am quite impressed with the performance of ISAF.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

Further Keith. The “Langar” (kitchen) personnel will not be more than 700 out of the 28,000 force. How does it compare with your tail? (In jest only)When I say “Rabble Rousers” I mean that the Hakeemullah group only have a cooked up agenda and are not really motivated to put in anything more into the fight. In the final analysis the PA is providing only a nudge for the Tribals to put their own house in order and that is why I say that the operation will be a short affair. Even if the Pak Taliban manage to break the cordon they will be in much deeper @%$#.Remember Keith PA is on the same side as US/EU.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

Hello Keith and Umair, Let us establish some rules:1. Never compare the West against PA.2. Never suspect the sincerity of any of the allies.3. Never make fun of anybody.4. Respect every opinion without labelling each other.5. Issue an immediate Mea Culpa when in error.6. Never ramble.7. Add some humour.8. Be less sensitive about 7. above.9. Keep religion out.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

MansoorI agree with you, nice ground rules for a healthy debate. Also we should keep in loop of the developments as far as the impending PA op in South Waziristan is concerned, and keep updated with current situation. Good luck to everyone!

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Mansoor,You deserve to be nominated for ‘…..’ Peace Prize for taking initiative to promote peace on this blog.

Posted by Sunny | Report as abusive

Folks the latest: Gen. Kayani has briefed the Governors of NWFP & Baluchistan on the Waziristan Operation. It seems that it is imminent now. The time in Pakistan is 6:20 am.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

Hey Mansoor,WHat time is it now? Where is your Gen Kiyani? Still not done negotiating “peace deals” with Talibans?

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive

Sam you still there? Keep watching CNN & BBC and you’ll know what I was talking about. They have thrown a cordon around the Taliban and within 24 hours are already at the main strongholds. An important village kotkai is already taken. I expect all the strongholds will fall within the week and the Taliban will try to escape to higher elevations. Only the very best will escape. Taliban positions around Makeen due to fall in a couple of days. Keep in touch.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

bravo. both nato and pakarmy army are trying to overpower pashtoons in order to set the guiness record. no force in history has ever been successful.the intruders have always been routed.Historically no one has ever been able to rule afghanistan without the concurrence of pushtoons.pakarmy adventure into the autonomous pushtoons terrain could end up in a similar pattern for the future.that is to say that no govt. in pakistan could survive without the concurrence of pushtoons.

Posted by rexminor | Report as abusive

Hello Rexminor,Just because the terrorists happen to speak Pushto does not mean that the operation is against the Pushtoons (they also speak Uzbek, Russian and Arabic). I hope you know that there are about 20,000,000 Pushtoons in Pakistan and they are all patriotic Pakistanis willing to sacrifice all to defend Pakistan against all enemies whether they are in Punjab or in South Waziristan. Even Pakistan Army/Air Force/Navy have more than 20% servicemen from NWFP.Yes you are right the British failed because they were the Outsiders. The Soviets stopped at the Pakistani borders because they dared not invade Pakistan when it was defended at the border by the Pushtoon tribesmen of Pakistan.Pushtoons ARE Pakistan. PA is taking out the lawless elements of SWA. Please don’t equate the Red Coats with Pakistan Army.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

hallo mr siddiqui,i am sorry to have upset your feelings.you will agree that national armies do not drop bombs on their citizens nor aim long range artillery pieces at them without any discrimination.Even the nato and the us military accepts now that this usually causes the death of old,women and children.According to the afghan president right now pushtoons are being killed on both sides of the border; the same border which was created by the brits during their colonial adventure.It is also worth remembering that PA has not not won a single war,caused the rupture of east pakistan,created unrest in Balochistan and restricted the development of the country as a whole.what the country needs is the peoples democracy,stregnthing of its civil institutions without relying on the military for internal security.National armies usually are stationed at the borders or in their barracks and well out of cities.

Posted by rexminor | Report as abusive

rexminor.Hello Sir, West and the East were separated by 1,000 mile of hostile territory. Pakistan had no hope of averting the break up of Pakistan. It was more of a political defeat than a military one. It was a huge error in judgement on part of Pakistanis to try to defeat the Bengali separatists. Having said that let me examine your comment that PA never won a war. What would you call a Pakistani victory? Pakistani flag on the Red Fort in Delhi? Let’s talk in terms of 2009 Pakistan. Population-wise Pakistan is 1/7th of India’s. The Indians have always held 2 to 1 advantage in military hardware and head count. India with 400,000 to 500,000 soldiers in Kashmir alone has not been able to significantly change the status quo for the last 60 years. That alone is victory for Pakistan. The only major Indian offensive was on Lahore in 1965 and Pakistan was able to withstand that attack. However Pakistan and India cannot go on fighting forever. I think a solution of Kashmir is close at hand.The “long range” artillery and air power that is being used in SWA is proportionate to the threat. Do you want PA to use grenades and rifles while the Insurgents are using heavy machine guns, rockets and heat-seeking AA weapons? The Government advised the civilians to move out to minimise damage to innocent people. If you take the Swat operation as an example of Pakistani Government’s performance in looking after the displaced persons then I’m sure that you will agree that they will do no less for SWA IDPs. I’m sure you will concede that the Mehsud tribe per se does not have any grouse against the government. It is only the few trouble-mongers who suffer from the delusion that they are soldiers of Islam conducting Jihad for the rest of the Muslims. At best their movement is misguided and destined for defeat. Also their basic locomotion is provided by external help including the presence of Uzbeks, Yemenis and Afghans. PA’s conclusion that the enclave of resistance in SWA is the core of insurgency and once taken care of will defuse their movement. They tried to give an impression by dispersed attacks that the entire FATA or even Punjab was under their control. By the way there are more Pushtoons in Pakistan than in Afghanistan and the population of NWFP is greater than Afghanistan’s. How can Pakistan ever even imagine to undermine Pushtoons! Pakistan IS Pushtoon.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

mr siddique, sorry but the debate will not solve pakistan problems in a short space of time which which the military leaders unfortunately has inflicted on the country over several decades. i do not question the sincerety of pa nor doubt your patriotism.nevertheless, the history of your country states for that somehow for no fault of their own the military generals took upon themselves to run political as well as military affairs of the country not once but several times since the formation of the country.Histor names this sad period as the military rule.sorry but you even question the outcome of wars between pakistan and india.as far as kashmir is concerned it was the wazirs and massuds who took the lead and invaded kashmir.pa was not even allowed to hold the territory gained by voluntiers mainly from swat and waziristan;since their british chief at the time refused to allow it. this is a piece of history now, i thought you must be awre of this. we see that the wealth of any country is its people, one can educate them, motivate them and they become the real stregnth of the nation.On the other hand, you can antagonise them, deny them the human rights and subsequently use the military against them. this will create a very strong oponent of the state from within. this happened in bengal, balochistan now in the heart of the pushtoon territory. This is why in the us pakistan has been declared as a candidate of a failed state, and some military generals have not yet understood this. I hope that pakistan politicians will get the chance to straighten out the mess the previous military president left after hisc forced departure.you are right there are more pushtoons in pakistan. in total there are roughly over sixty millian, and one should not misunderstand them wheather they are in your military, navy and airforce or live across in other state.They disagree with their brothers,fight with their cousins but their primary loyalty is for their family and the tribe they belong to.they defend the land where they live and defend those who take refuge with them!!O’h before i take a break from this explantion,they are also flexable against a suitable payment of cash as long as this does not infringe upon their code of honour.As an observer i would not be surprised if after election mr karzai orders the expulsion of all foreigners from the afghan land on both sides of the border.In any case i wish you all to have peace in your land.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

After Partition India refused to give Pakistan a due share of mlitary assets, consequently Pakistan was founded with an unequipped army. Nearly 95% of defence oriented industry was in India. So the situation was that India had everything (Industry was set up by the Brits to support IIWW) and Pakistan had nothing. The dilapidated aircraft handed over to Pakistan crashed enroute (fuel was sabotaged. this is part of history). Those crash-landing within Pakistani border were made airworthy and formed the first aircraft of the PAF. The IA kept all the heavy guns/ammo, all of the battle-worthy tanks, all the navy except for some IWW vintage ships which were all candidates for the scrap heap. The interesting thing is that Pakistan was able to stare down India because of the nature of its population which is capable of defending itself with or without an army. In 1947 Punjab had its hands full with 5,000,000 refugees from the Indian Punjab and UP. The province was trying to feed and house this influx. The army was only assisted by the lashkars in the Kashmir War. The tribals were not the only non-military people who fought in Kashmir. The people of Gilgit, Chitral, Punjabis, Kashmiris & Balouchis (plus a significant portion of IIWW veterans from all over Pakistan) were all part of the lashkars. The tribals were the only ones who had weapons of any sort. The tribals did it for Pakistan and will do it again for Pakistan. Do you think that the tribals bear allegiance to the Afghan State? You are definitely in the Cuckooland my dear. Where did you hear that? Tribals are fiercest defenders of Pakistan. Any time there is mobilisation the Tribals are always the first who offer their services to the nation. Wait till this SWA thing is over and then see how quickly the situation will normalise proving that tribals are patriotic Pakistanis and would like to live in peace. Nobody, including the army can deny anyone’s rights in Pakistan. This operation is for law & order purposes and once taken care of the civilians will stream back relieved that the trouble-makers have been routed/corrected/punished. Pakistan is a nation of 170,000,000 people who will all stand as one if need arises.You said that Mr Karzai is going to expel all foreigners from Afghan lands from both sides of the border. You have no idea of proportion. So Mr Karzai claims 35,000,000 Pakistani Pathans while he has a total population of 32,000,000 comprising of about 58% of Turkic peoples and only 30% (about 10,000,000) of total speaking Pushto. While Pakistan has 40,000,000 speaking Pushto! At least 5,000,000 Punjabis and Balouchis speak Pushto. In Afghanistan people think it uncivilised to speak in Pushto as against Darri. In Pakistan Pushto is a respected language. Please work on this and see if you come up with different numbers. If you ask anybody in Peshawar, Kohat, Mardan, Swat or even Miramshah in NWA as to their views on being an Afghan rather than a Pakistani then you had better go with a security detail.India will be better advised to spend all the money its spending on the propaganda about Pakistani border with Afghanistan and spend instead on defending its own border with China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Kashmir & Pakistan.And don’t worry about Pakistan as it has already become a powerful, progressive, tolerant and modern country which will eliminate religious intolerance from within its borders and be a shining example for all its neighbours, including India.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

mr siddiqi,you are very much loaded, some facts but most of your statement is made up of causes.i am interested in history and not the excuses,why pa did not fight in kashmir in 1947?it does not matter! i do not believe this is the right place to discuss patriotism slogans or political views.we are all entitled to hold on to our views.i have said before pushtoons loyalty is first for his family then the tribe and the land he lives in, not the voodoo story of alice in the wonderland.PA has overstepped their mission, instead of defending the country they have been exploiting the wealth of the nation taking away the freedom of the country, destroying the political and civil society and the democratically elected govts. bringing thereby the country on the brink of becoming a failed state.you do not have a national army.your own ex president and general implied this in a recent tv intervew. your army is now being asked to support us military efforts in controlling their adventure in afghanistan.you keep giving names to people of your own country who disagree with you.if pa shows that they are stronger than waziris, they will be able to redeem themselves and finally prove to the whole world that they are a force to reckon with. i myself am not so optimist.my forecast is that eventually they will be routed from the tribal terribal land, from waziristan to swat across.Ogf course they will have plenty of excuses, reasons etc. why they had to withdraw. When you deliberate on this chapter of history which we are witnessing then you should raise a single question, why from the popülation equal to or more than that of france and germany they have not been able to construct a simple drone which according to news reports is currently being used by usa in pakistan. have a nice evening sir and good luck.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

Mr. Rex Minor, (I hope I’m right about your name)Its past midnight Pakistan time. The assault on Kaniguram (main stronghold of Uzbeks) is about to begin by my figuring. If you take the time to follow the PA’s progress in this operation you will concede that this operation has gone on most professionally. They are converging on to the main objective on three axes – North, East and West on to Ladha-Makin complex. I predicted in one of my blogs that the major operations will be done in a coupla weeks(my only update is that its going to take three weeks). That is exactly what is happenning and after Sararogha and Kaniguram ar taken by Nov 1 the main battle will be fought between Nov 5-8. The trouble is you have no idea how professional PA is. Frankly have you seen any Army in this region (Exception US Army) who can put up an action like that? I’m not running away. I’ll be here giving my analysis on this operation.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

no mr Siddiqi, we have alsö seen the so called professional army surrender when sorrounded by another regional army(not necessarily stronger) following the text book guidelines they were taught.yes,this type of professionalism is not seen in national armies.The soldiers in a national army instead is taught to refuse illegal orders which ask for military campaigns against its own citizens. people who are suspected of crimes are tried in civilian courts(in absentia if necessary) and not executed in their homes or backyards.PA has suffered several defeats and spent shameful time as pows but you remain persistent in your praise for them.i guess it is probably human to make the same mistake over and over again.it would seem that despite the departure of the despot general he has left behind a bag of worms not really healthy for the stability of the country.The civilian govt. is going to face tough times.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

So you are referring to the Great Victorious Indian Army where they did nothing except wait for Bengalis to fight it out and then when the battle was lost and won then declare it the greatest Indian victory & declare Maneckshaw the first Field Marshal. It was definitely a victory for RAW and other Indian spies in E.Pakistan who started their activities with “Agartala Conspiracy”.Why don’t you follow what is happenning under your nose right now in SWA? Now it is reduced to a triangle, 14 miles x 11 miles x 7 miles (Kaniguram – Sararogah – Makin). Nov 6th will mark the cessation of major operations and return of civilians will begin by Nov 20. I’m not running away so keep in touch. Pakistan will prove to the world that it is capable of routing the Islamic radical elements. I will leave it to you to compare the shameful spanking that IA suffered at the hands of the Chinese in the Sino-Indian War with the Pakistan/Bangladesh Civil War. The Chinese chose not to make at least 2 divisions of IA POW because they had no capability of providing Indian Curry and chutney to revive 30,000 underfed soldiers. Do an in-depth study and let me have the comparison. Also please let me know of other great Indian victories that I’m not aware of. May be you think that the Gold & diamond smuggling in Africa of your “peace-keeping” contingent was a great victory too.By the way you should know that Mehsuds, Waziris & Afridis are more patriotic than anybody else and they are not Afghans, they are Pakistani Pathans. I think you should learn about what Pakistan is composed of. Lest you might think that we are a similar bunch as you in India are: we are much, much different than what constitutes India. We don’t have 15% untouchables, 13% semi-untouchable Muslims & 10,000,000 enslaved Kashmiris. We don’t have ANY untouchables, nobody enslaved (by the way people in FATA are the most independent people on Earth and Pakistan is proud of them).On one hand you are against Islamic radicalism and on the other you refuse to support Pakistan when it fights those radicals. What’s going on?

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

mrsiddiqi,now you are completely off track. i do neither represent the indian army nor the american interests. i am simply trying to analyse the history and watching with sadness how a country is destroying its individual components one by one by shooting in their own feet.pashtoons or afghans, the two words are synonymous refer to one and the same people.the triangular territory they live in covers an area of approx.250,0000 sq. miles.starts from dir in the north,this so called triangle includes the major portion of the nwfp, a part of quetta divisionand three fourths of afghanistan.in this region th lives the world’s largest group of tribesmen in the world.”if pa would simply educate and informs its officers corp(the soldiers are not at fault)about the history and culture of the entire ethnic mix of pakistan then the disaster the country has faced over the last half a century could have been avoided or at least minimised,and all the causes and explanations elaborated in your note would not be necessary.it is hard to believe but it is a fact that the army general sends a large army to a hostile part of east pakistan in order to suppress the citizens of bengal.it came as a surprise to everyone that he had not contemplated the ndian army taking over the capital of east pakistan which was not defended.he then orders the army to surrender in accordance with the lessons of war games described in english text books”.ention pakistathese tribes have baffled and confused many famous historians including muslim historians from al-biruni onwards.pushtoons will not hold to any agreement written or oral if it is not for his benefits.one cannnot use a spin with them like carey/luger and hillary are trying to influance pa and civilian govt. to accept the aid package.pushtoons loyalty is for his family and tribe and for the land he lives in. i hope pa campaign will be soon over as you are forecasting.i doubt it but still wish that for the sake of piece you are proven right.i would not rely on usa for assistance if things do not work your way.

Posted by ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, | Report as abusive

Hi there Rex Minor! As I said PA has already overrun Kaniguram and Sararogha and begun cleaning up Makin. It is Nov 3, only 17 days into battle and already ALL the strongpoints have been taken and mopping up begun. Of course the stragglers will continue to be there and be taken care of by the Army in a continuing presence. I want to hear your opinion of this operation.

Posted by Mansoor Siddiqui | Report as abusive

mr siddiqui,your pa like all other foreign forces have always fought them to no avail and then retreated with some sort of consolation.in fact most of the btritish units boasted of their campaign in waziri territory and some of these units became a part of the pa.Oh yes they even granted vc’s to their officers for their gallantry, without retaining an inch of waziris land. history is simply being repeated with new actors.can you state what was the purpose of PA to enter swat and then waziristan and did they achieve it?if the purpose is to shed the blood of innocents,old, women and children in order to solicit cash and equpment support from usa?then probably according to cnn debate among us generals they are making headway.In fact they all agreed that usa should eventually withdraw their forces and put pressure on pakistan to deliver.but why sacrifice poor soldiers life if now the govt. is offering rewards for the capture of so called insurgents.only to give the waziris targets for practice.pa ex isi chief sounds more realistic on this episode.i can see one definite outome: the current civilian govt. with sardari and co.will fall, whether a take over by the military elite group as in the past”de ja vou” or by nawaz sharif and co.this is not determined yet.THis is my educated and subjetive prognosis of this sad piece of history.I have witnessed several before!!What is yours ,victory for the pa to redeem itself from the past failures?

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

Mr Siddiqui,
I have the impression that are a straight forward gentleman with a military background? Your problem is that you are communicating with a person who thinks quite different to others. I analyse the history, study the culture of the people involved, prior to making any short term or long term prognosis. Your Ex ISI chief stated that PA has never won a war, somewhat similar to what I had observed and included in my comments. You are always looking at the pathology of the reality. I respect your opinion but it is of very restricted use perhaps for future campaigns. PA generals, I am sorry to say, have proven to be incompetent in all their conflicts with the Indian Army. Travelling all the way to East and then spreading all over the territory, making it possible for the Indian miltary to take over the capital, a classic error and has been so recorded in the history of military combats. This was followed by a surrender of the entire army, as the General had learnt in the english military text books and during his staff training, is not something to be proud of nor one should explain this fiasco with political responsibilities. The military at the time was also at the helm of the political leadership. PA needs structural reforms to become a national army instead of continuing the role given to them by the Brits. chasing their own citizens across the country with military pieces and you are justifying this role as your comrade did during the Bengal crisis with similar words” only few trouble mongers”. Are the cable network not transmitting to you that the PA is not able to defend their own military headquarter? And your senoior interior minister is now calling on clergy to give a fatwa against this onslaught on the military which they are unable to prevent. And, Sir, would you give the same explanation if the Indian Army takes over the undefended capital of Pakistan, without disturbing the PA stationed at the kashmir and Afghan borders, exactly the same scenario as that we witnessed in the East?
I guess I have mentioned in my previous commentry that the Pushrtoons first loyalty is for his family, the tribe and the land he lives in. I am aware that PA has very senior pushtoon officers, but sooner or later they will wake up and the people would once again have the so called martial law! What the PA did in Swat tantamounts to war crimes!! The Pushtoons made a serious mistake to vote in refrendum for Pakistan, the only province with a majority vote. The Punjab,Bengal and Sindh provinces left most of their land in India. Most of the today’s generation in Pakistan are not aware that without this majority in the so called NWFP, there would have been no Pakistan today. Now, I have said before that no one in history has ever been able to defeat the waziris, we are watchng on the France 24 cabel net work how the Anerican marines are being pinned down by a single and I repeat a single sniper for several hours before the helicopters arrive and rescure their soldiers. As I forecasted the US and Nato armies are being doubled in stregnth in order to be able to withdraw from the land, the words used by Mr Obama. For PA to talk about the centre of gravity and then to say that there are only few misguided is the greatest blunder of all times. The Pushtoons always start in few niumbers, they are the finest strategist of all times. Yes one sniper engages a platoon of marines and pins them down. I would have wished to have these people on your side. You should look at your country with a birds eye view as I do, and please take the time and travel to cities bórdering Waziristan and you would be able to meet the warriors of the valey who are still able to have kebabs in city restaurants during midday and travel back to the battle front in the evening. They ususally cover over one hundred miles of distance in battles in a day. Can a soldier of a regular army is able to travel such a distance and fight? I am not sure , may be some special units? please do inform when you think the PA is somehow in control f the affairs. By the way I believe that Pakistan should enter into a dialogue, not negotiations, with its citizens and its neighbours. Pakistan has morally lost its stregnth, the Indians might forgive and the Pushtoons and the Baluchis might pity the sad position the country is in.

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Hallo Mr Siddiqui,
I almost missed you. I have the impression that you are a genuine gentleman and very persistent in your position.I do think differently and therefore our disagreements. What matters for me is facts and not so much the pathology or interpretations:
.PA was defeated in east because of the strategic blunder made by its Commander.He spread his forces throughout the country to suppress its citizens and later was unable to defend the capital against the Indian Force.
. He then followed the text book instructions for surrender of the entire army instead of resisting the invading army. In any case this is now in the military history, A Classic Blunder.
.PA needs to be restructure to become a national army. They do not need to attack its neighbours or civilians to prove their stregnth.
. PA intrusion into Swat is of a criminal nature and should in my view be regarded as war crimes. PA has no business to use air power and artillery destroying houses, hospitals and schools similar to what Israel did in Lebanon and Gaza. Who is going to repair the damage and pay for the costs.
.PA intrusion into the waziri land is illegal and against the agreements made with Brits. and later with successive Pakistan govts.
. PA needs to get out of the Cantonments which the Brits had built to protect their colonial Force and the Families. They have no business residing among the civilian citizens holding an elite status.
Your assertion of few massuds(few Bengalis in Bengal campaign) is misleading, also they do not consider themselves as soldiers of Islam, I watch this phenomina among the PA regarding themselves martyrs, when they loose their lives in combat agaist the Indian Army or their own citizens.
. Pakistan in my view has lost the legitimacy to stay a single unit any more. I do not see any longer a common denominator for Pushtoos or for that matter Baluchis with Punjabis and sindhis to stay within the fedration of Pakistan.
. I mentioned earlier that the Massuds are the fiercest wariors among the waziris.Unfortunately the cable network does not show their performance against the PA because of the military blackout, but we do get the chance to watch how a single sniper pinns down the entire platoon of marines for several hours until the helecopter appears in the sky and the sniper leaves. Sir, You must have seen on the TV that PA is no longer in a position to defend their own Headquarte. A classic scenario, who would you blame now if the Indian parachute regiment lands in the Pakistan capital like they did in the east, and leave the PA intact currently operating in border areas? Have a nice day.

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive