Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Frontline waziristan

After smoking out terrorists from Malakand, the army launches operations in Tehreek-i-Taliban stronghold

The audacious attack on the well-protected General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi in broad daylight on October 10 was symbolic in the sense that it sent a clear message that terrorists can strike anywhere in Pakistan with impunity. But it also prompted the Pakistan army to initiate the long-awaited operation against well-entrenched al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in South Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan.

Backed by jet fighters, as many as 28,000 Pakistani troops made a three-pronged attack on the stronghold of slain Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Baitullah Mahsud in South Waziristan on October 17 and reportedly killed 78 militants within three days. The army claims to have captured important strategic heights in the mountains. But the Taliban, who claim not to have lost a single fighter, say they have killed more Pakistani soldiers than the nine reported by the army. Verification is not possible because neither foreign nor local media have been allowed to enter the war zone so far.

Strangely enough, the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) forces vacated more than half a dozen key security check posts on the Afghan side of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border just ahead of the Pakistan army’s operation code named Rahe Nijat against the militants, reported The News, Pakistan’s national English daily.

The move has led to speculation that it will facilitate Afghan Taliban in crossing over to Pakistan, strengthening the local Taliban and al-Qaeda. The army has set up five bases in the region near the Afghan border to try to seal off the Taliban’s main stronghold.

While on one hand, the US leadership is all praise for the operation launched by the Pakistan army; it is trying its best to save the skin of Nato forces even at the cost of creating trouble for Pakistan.

It also implies that since the US has provided more than $5.6 billion in military assistance to Pakistan since 9/11, it perceives that essentially it’s Pakistan that has to bear the brunt of “war on terror” in this part of the world.

“The success of Waziristan operation directly depends on the nature of security arrangements in Afghanistan. If the reports about removal of Nato forces from Afghan borders are true, the entire Waziristan operation will be affected and it will put a very big question mark against American interests towards its professed campaign against terrorism in the region,” Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed, chairman, Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, told TSI.

But Tauseef Ahmed Khan, professor of Mass Communications at the Federal Urdu University of Karachi and a leading political analyst, argued that the report regarding removal of Nato check posts from Pakistan-Afghanistan border might be planted by the establishment.

“The way hawks such as former ISI chief Gen. (retired) Hameed Gul are talking of removal of Nato check posts from Pakistan-Afghanistan borders points out that there is something fishy,” he said.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on October 19 made it clear to Commander, US Central Command, Gen.David Petraeus that as Pakistan was engaged in South Waziristan, infiltration from Afghanistan into Pakistan should be checked by the US and Nato forces.

The Pak PM said his country was fighting on two fronts — Malakand and now in South Waziristan. “While it has won in Malakand, Pakistan is poised to strike a decisive blow to terrorists in South Waziristan. But it has to do more for the socio-economic development in the affected areas to address the root causes of terrorism and economic deprivation of the people,” he has been reported to have told the US general, who called on him at the Prime Minister's House.
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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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