Aid agencies put on alert ahead of N.Waziristan operation

Published: May 31, 2011
Pakistan to launch operation in North Waziristan. PHOTO: FILE

Pakistan to launch operation in North Waziristan. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Humanitarian agencies active in Pakistan’s northwest have been quietly told to prepare for up to 365,000 displaced people in advance of a military offensive against North Waziristan, a senior official with an international humanitarian agency said on Monday.

The official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, was responding to a media report in a local newspaper that Pakistan will launch a military offensive against Al Qaeda and Taliban safe havens in the Afghan border regions.

“Humanitarian agencies operating in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were given the heads up two weeks ago by the authorities of a possible displacement of up to 50,000 families,” he said, referring to the FATA and the northwest province.

A similar tip-off in 2009 preceded a military offensive in neighbouring South Waziristan by about five months, he said. Other aid agencies were not immediately available for comment.

The report in Pakistan’s The News newspaper comes just days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated a U.S. demand to tackle sanctuaries for Al Qaeda and the Taliban on the Afghan border.

An understanding for an offensive in North Waziristan, the main sanctuary in Pakistan for militants fighting in Afghanistan, was reached when Clinton and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen visited Pakistan last week, the News reported.

The United States has long demanded that Pakistan attack the region to eliminate the Haqqani network, one of the deadliest Afghan militant factions fighting US troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been reluctant to do so, but it has come under more pressure and its performance in fighting militancy is under scrutiny after Osama bin Laden was discovered living in the country.

The News quoted unidentified “highly placed sources” as saying Pakistan’s air force would soften up militant targets under the “targeted military offensive” before ground operations were launched.

Pakistani officials were not immediately available for comment. A US embassy official had no immediate comment. The newspaper said a “joint operation” with allies had been discussed but no decision had been taken because of sensitivities.

Sensitivity of a Pak-US joint operation

“In case the two sides agreed to go for a joint action, it would be the first time in the present war (on militancy) that foreign boots will get a chance to be on Pakistani soil with the consent of the host country.”

That could be highly risky for Pakistan’s generals.

Some analysts say any joint US-Pakistani operation would subject the army to even more public criticism in a country where anti-US feeling runs deep.

“The reaction could be even more vociferous, just because everybody is so suspicious — as well as dismissive – of American interference,” said Imtiaz Gul, author of “The Most Dangerous Place”, a book about Pakistan’s militant strongholds.

“People already feel so humiliated because of this Osama bin Laden thing and now they will have another reason to react.”

But the South Asian nation, dependent on billions of dollars in US aid, is under more pressure than ever to show it is serious about tackling militancy.

Attacking US enemies in North Waziristan may be one way of repairing ties with Washington which were badly damaged by the Bin Laden affair.

Pakistan maintains about 140,000 troops in the northwest, including about 34,000 in North Waziristan, but says they are too stretched fighting Pakistani Taliban insurgents in other parts of the region to tackle North Waziristan.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • Roflcopter
    May 31, 2011 - 1:07AM

    Pakistan is making a big mistake!Recommend

  • Ahmad
    May 31, 2011 - 1:14AM

    Pakistani must be closely monitored during this operation as this country and its generals are highly expert in deceiving people and may help the terrorists instead of attacking them. Recommend

  • Huzaifa
    May 31, 2011 - 1:17AM

    This is just a Wolf and the Lamb story

    A lamb was quenching its thirst
    In the water of a pure stream.
    A fasting wolf came by, looking for something;
    He was attracted by hunger to this place.
    —What makes you so bold as to meddle with my drinking?
    Said this animal, very angry.
    You will be punished for your boldness.
    —Sir, answered the lamb, let Your Majesty
    Not put himself into a rage;
    But rather, let him consider
    That I am taking a drink of water
    In the stream
    More than twenty steps below him;
    And that, consequently, in no way,
    Am I troubling his supply.
    —You do trouble it, answered the cruel beast.
    And I know you said bad things of me last year.
    —How could I do that when I wasn’t born,
    Answered the lamb; I am still at my mother’s breast.
    —If it wasn’t you, then it was your brother.
    —I haven’t a brother.—It was then someone close to you;
    For you have no sympathy for me,
    You, your shepherds and your dogs.
    I have been told of this.I have to make things even.
    Saying this, into the woods
    The wolf carries the lamb, and then eats him
    Without any other why or wherefore.

  • I write U read
    May 31, 2011 - 1:23AM

    Do we have a choice?Recommend

  • May 31, 2011 - 1:36AM

    And we[General Pubic] will face the consequences.Poor Pakistani :( Recommend

  • Aamir
    May 31, 2011 - 1:58AM

    This is what exactly US wanted us to do after they orchestrated the drama of OBL……alas our so called politicians don’t learn from their past mistakes.

    Once again it will be the general public of Pakistan who will bear the brunt.Recommend

  • faraz
    May 31, 2011 - 2:19AM

    Pakistan has no option but to get rid of these strategic assets, whether it happens through dialogue or force or whatever other means. But we have no other option; there is a global consensus against such groups. This narrative of pushtoon nationalism is only meant for domestic consumption; everyone knows who patronizes these groups.Recommend

  • Ali
    May 31, 2011 - 2:42AM

    Again the napak army will act on the orders of its masters and bomb its own it is not capable of defending against external Enemies….Recommend

  • MI Khan
    May 31, 2011 - 3:14AM

    It is in Pakistan’s own interest to eliminate all sanctuaires of terrorism. Pakistan needs to join the rest of the world in the 21st century and for that to happen, the Pak army must get rid of religious biggots and Taliban yahoos who are dragging us back into the dark ages. I wish Pak army success in this operation. We should support our army in the fight against extremism.Recommend

  • Javed
    May 31, 2011 - 3:14AM

    @Ali: What about the napak taliban who have killed 35000 Pakistanis. Get an Afghan nationality if you have a problem with this country and its forces. You can then support these Talibans as much as you want.Recommend

  • Chotta Chetan
    May 31, 2011 - 4:12AM

    Things can only go downhill from here…Recommend

  • Akthar
    May 31, 2011 - 4:47AM

    Good riddance of all terror groups! Hope army does the same in punjab & sindh too! But the question is will it do with all sincerity unlike previous times. & we should support the army as our nation is considered militant all over the world from arab countries to west to US to south east asia to russia.
    All international terrorist groups, indonesian, phillipino, arab, chinese, indian, maldives, chechan, caucasian find refuge in pakistan! Recommend

  • Ahmed
    May 31, 2011 - 5:01AM

    I welcome the decision. The Taliban with their backward ideology, their unhuman treatment of women, and their philosphy that allows them to kill innocent, are possibly the most dangerous people in the world. They need to be eliminated.

    Paksitan a country of 180 million people will be better of if hateful organizations like TTP, LeT, Jamaat-e-Islami are not allowed to function in Pakistan.Recommend

  • May 31, 2011 - 5:02AM

    @I write U read: Yes, quit the US war. Its their war, they got their people killed so they are the ones responsible to avenge it. This is not our war, we have Pakistani citizens in Waziristan and other tribal regions who would get killed in such operations. By going into an operation against the Waziris is signing the secession for the Waziris and other tribal agencies off from Pakistan which would throw them into the hands of the indians who are spending what should be spent on their lifeless poor who sleep on roads (millions of them), against Pakistan and its defence installations. 35000 civilians killed and many of those whose children got killed in such operations by our army would trigger them enrolling for terrorist camps across the border where they are TRAINED BY INDO-US NEXUS INSIDE INDIAN CONSULATESRecommend

  • Arslan
    May 31, 2011 - 5:03AM

    Few years ago, I would have disagreed totally, but it now seems that local geo-political factors have drastically changed, the major one being the most logical: the first victims, the most fed-up of this extremism virus are peoples of North Waziristan. As in Bajaur, peoples will help Pak. Army.
    Pakistan zindabad.Recommend

  • Cautious
    May 31, 2011 - 5:25AM

    A similar tip-off in 2009 preceded a military offensive in neighboring South Waziristan by about five months,

    Giving the Taliban plenty of time to move into the next province. The Swat military campaign had lots of press – limited military casualties – and almost no significant damage to the Taliban. Lets hope this campaign has a goal of eliminating Taliban from Pakistan rather than escorting them to another province.Recommend

  • Fahad
    May 31, 2011 - 5:57AM

    well if you have to do it then i guess there is no other way around it…Recommend

  • Huzaifa
    May 31, 2011 - 6:17AM

    and who told you this truth, your god father USA, next USA will ask, we need such type of operation in karachi, and then in lahore and next in islamabad and finally they will say pak army is a group of terrorists and we have to eliminate them, and that time the condition will be same as of bangladesh in which army lost the trust of people. Army is to save its people not to kill it people. which country army operates against its people? what are the evidences taliban killed 35000 people. you believe the truth by USA, who couldn’t proved the 911 blunder yet. it is actually a Wolf and the Lamb story, in which truth is only what the wolf says. this is just the jungle law. why not raymond davis type involved in killing of these 35000 innocent pakistani? what has been done after 911, we are still in the world of fool, millions of innocent iraq, yamni, afghnani, Pakistani, and now Libyan killed, on the name of terror. who is the terrorist, we all know, but have no dare to say the truth.
    But Allah is the greatest of all and we’ll get the result of what we done. If USA is against terrorism, why not stop 63 years old terrorism of India in Kashmir, where humanitarian organization are not allowed to reports on extra judicial killings. what this world did for us when india divide us in 1971? What world did for palestanian, where international laws gone when isreali army attacked on ghaza, on freedom flotilla. What isreal is doing since 1947? what happened to Dr. Afia? and what happened in Davis case?
    It is just the jungle law in which the truth is only what the stronger say. the dual standard world. We all are target, next we will be called terrorists and then our next generation.
    Allah save us, Allah save Pakistan.Recommend

  • Huzaifa
    May 31, 2011 - 6:24AM

    @I write U read:
    believe Allah and ask for help of Allah.Recommend

  • naveed
    May 31, 2011 - 6:38AM

    wat do we mean by strategic assets..why r we reluctant to undo haqqani network. we r keeping them safe to further destablies afghanistan after the americans are gone? why dont we quit this afghanistan? why are we living amongst fears? why r we keeping uzbiks, chechans, arabi fighters here? why cant we simply leave afghanistan? let them build their country.. let them live peacefully? wat is the the fear of a stable afghanistan? let every foreigner get out of pakistan..lets clean this land from the foreign fighters.. lets focus on our own country.. we have to accept afghanistan as a sovereign country ruled by their own people.. we have killed alot of them.. enough is enough.. please get out this afghanistan phobia..peace is not possible in pakistan until and unless we dont allow afghans to rule their land..pakistan army and ISI is living in the paradise of fools.. they have to stop interference in afghanistan till its too need to to launch a full scale attack in N.waziristan.. the ISI knows every foreigner in N.waziristan..simply tell them to go, f u r really sincere in stopping further humiliation for the pakistani nation..u have killed alot of pukhtoons in afghanistan, swat, south waziristan and now u r going to kill them n north waziristan,,, let these poor people live their lives peacefully,,simply filter the terrorists out of them,, its late but its not too late.. love pakistan..Recommend

  • Phajja
    May 31, 2011 - 7:03AM

    Only parliament must allow such operation. Army should not over rule the Parliament and neither should executive. Collective wisdom must prevail. Army and executive must not repeat past mistakes.Recommend

  • san
    May 31, 2011 - 7:14AM

    lets do it lads…lets clean up these goons once it for all…c’mon guys make us proud..Recommend

  • May 31, 2011 - 7:29AM

    The USA must be blackmailing the GOP and must be really having something thing terrible against the Army to be constantly pressurising us. The USA is a ‘hammer headed satan’s minion’ and Pakistan is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

    All the expenditure on GOP and the Pak Army has now been rendered useless. Thanks to the servitude of our leaders, bureaucrats, rubber stamp politicians and their sycophants.

    Salams to all the peaceful citizens of Pakistan.Recommend

  • AnisAqeel
    May 31, 2011 - 7:33AM

    This will be a wise decision if joint operation takes place and terrorism is uprooted from Pakistan. Our military is in a tremendous pressure from enemy within and it certainly is an existential threat that can’t be ignored. Now is the time to acknowledge our weaknesses and show moral courage to save the country. We have terrorists from the Middle East, Africa, Chechnya, Indonesia to name a few why our Military can’t go for a joint operation to combat its own existence.Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 31, 2011 - 10:31AM

    @faraz: I agree with you 100%. However, due to the leaks from our armed forces, the Taliban have ample time to disperse and diffuse in villages and general public. It is a shame that they got the news several days in advance. Taliban have deep presence in our armed forces. That is the main reason US did not take a chance to inform Pakistani army about OBL operation.

  • SJ
    May 31, 2011 - 12:07PM

    I guess its not working.Recommend

  • Farukh Sarwar
    May 31, 2011 - 1:08PM

    I believe, this operation will rid Pakistan of the blame that is defaming us in the whole world.Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    May 31, 2011 - 1:28PM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.Once again a drama of slaughter of innocent muslims on the name of fake terrorism is near to be started by the corrupt,slaves and beggars leaders including key army officials on the commandments of their worldly master USA to get more and more $$$$$$$$.One muslim group shall kill the 2nd muslim group and in this game of killing one group shall be killed and 2nd group shall be martyred.Allah Almighty’s last Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said from His true tongue that “a true believer muslim is that from which hands and tongue other muslims could save” and in the light of this Hadeeth do you think that are we true muslims believers or just have supposed to read Quran and Sunnah?Recommend

  • Ben
    May 31, 2011 - 7:08PM

    US wants Pakistan to eliminate the Haqqani network — which is based in North Waziristan and is one of its fiercest enemies just across the border in Afghanistan — in any North Waziristan operation. This is the reason that frequent drone strikes are directed against this region. On the other hand, Pakistan’s major problem is rooted in the South Waziristan agency, a safe haven of TTP which has so far played havoc in Pakistan by targeting thousands of innocent civilians and security interests. It is for this reason that while the Pakistani military has launched major offensives in other regions in its unruly tribal belt, it has been hesitant to attack North Waziristan, which could pose the biggest risk. But what a turn of events. A man who was called a saint by Charlie Wilson and was invited to the White House is today a target of US military might. Recommend

  • antihysteria
    May 31, 2011 - 10:47PM

    We should look at the afghan situation objectively. One way to do that is to completely reverse the positions.

    Situation=> On 9/11, 2 passenger planes were hijacked by mexican drug gangs, and were slammed into two high rise towers(lets say they exist) in Pakistan killing thousands of innocent pakistani civilians. The Pakistani army reacting to this attack invades mexico in order to capture/kill the master mind and dismantle the drug gangs.

    In this situation, if some gang members were to operate from a unstable area in America to launch cross border operations to kill your soldiers in mexico and then run back to their sanctuaries in America, would we as a nation that is providing billions of dollars of aid, not expect the American army(which is one of the largest in the world), to crackdown on these gangsters.

    Doesn’t seem so unreasonable now does it? Recommend

  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Jun 1, 2011 - 6:48AM

    A joint Pak- US operation wil be more effective ,Recommend

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