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Pakistan: Army poised for full scale offensive against TTP in North Waziristan:

Paper No: 5720                        Dated 6-Jun-2014
 
By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan
 
On 24th of May, the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of Pakistan had announced that no decision had been taken for a full scale military operation in North Waziristan.  But there are many indications that show that the Army is poised to begin a regular offensive soon and perhaps this could happen in a week.
 
On 28th May, the Army Chief visited the troops in the area of operations and once again we were amused to see him declare that the “whole nation has rejected the ideology of the terrorists who have lost their cause and are marginalised”
 
This statement should be read with what has just been published by a former Pakistani Security official Hassan Abbas titled, “The Taliban Revival.” The book said that in the wake of 26/11 attack in November 2008, the very same terrorists were declared to be patriots by Pakistani intelligence and that they should join hands with the military to fight the Indian troops.  
 
In a confidential briefing to leading Pakistani journalists, the military said that “We have no big issues with the militants in FATA.  We have only some misunderstandings with Baitullah Mehsud and Fazlullah.  These misunderstandings could be removed through dialogue.” 
 
Mehsud did not take the bait then and recommenced his terror campaign against Pakistani security forces operating in FATA as also the urban centres targeting ordinary people.  Mehsud has since been killed by a US drone.
 
Now when the operations had already begun against the TTP with the bombing of the Matchis camp, the Armed Forces are said to have given a clear message to the government that the time for talks are over and that they are going in.
 
In the raids on TTP camps, Jets and Helicopter gun ships have been freely used to bomb the area.  Pakistan is one of the few countries that bombs its own civilians in internal operations.  Use of artillery and Pakistan made drones were also reported.  Although the army sources claim to have killed over 80 militants, other reports indicate that a large number of civilians including women and children have been killed.
 
In retaliation, the TTP carried out two blasts in Islamabad, killing one and injuring another.  In an IED blast in Pidiali tehsil, Mohamed agency, six security personnel were killed and many others injured.
 
The TTP has ordered the tribesmen’s families to leave North Waziristan and not to be trapped during a possible military offensive.  A large number of families are already seen moving towards Khost and Paktika provinces.  
 
A pamphlet supposed to have been issued by the Gul Bahadur group alleged that the government has practically revoked an agreement with them without making any announcement to that effect by attacking innocent people and destroying their property.  
 
It urged all militant groups not to send their fighters to Afghanistan but to divert them for the defence of Waziristan.
 
On 31st May morning over 200 militants attacked a border post in North Bajaur area from across Afghanistan’s Kunar province.  Helicopter gun ships were used to repel the attacks.  One point that needs to be noted  was that the Pakistani helicopters did not respect the Durand line!
 
Now we go back to the Pak Army Chief’s statement that the whole nation has rejected the ideology of the Terrorists.  The operations in North Waziristan and near about Miranshah could not have been carried out without a tacit understanding with the notorious Haqqani Group that dominates not only North Waziristan but also the provinces across- Khost and Loya Paktika.
 
The main terror group now dominating in that area is the Haqqani group and that is closest to the Pakistani Intelligence and the Armed Forces. Though the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat was done by the LET, it could not have been done without full logistics support from the Haqqani group to reach an area as far away as Herat and close to the Iranian border. 
 
The attack on Herat consulate of India appeared to be a hastily rehearsed affair to coincide with the inauguration ceremony in Delhi and to create a hostage drama.  Luckily the ITBP commandos in the consulate  were alert and kept the militants at bay for some time before the Afghan forces could arrive.
 
We could in the near term expect more strikes by LET and other related groups to put pressure on the new regime.  We cannot expect Nawaz Sharif- nor is he in a position to rein in the militants.  We should be aware of the ground realities that in Pakistan so far as we are concerned-the Army even now calls the shots. 
 
 
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