Waziristan operation: ‘Media hype’ dismissed

Published: June 2, 2011
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Soldiers fire artillery towards suspected militant hideouts in Mohmand Agency during a media trip organised by Pakistan Army. PHOTO: AFP

Soldiers fire artillery towards suspected militant hideouts in Mohmand Agency during a media trip organised by Pakistan Army. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan is still trying to convince the United States that the Haqqani network, the deadliest of all Afghan militant groups which is allegedly based in the North Waziristan tribal region, is ‘reconcilable’ and going after it at this stage will be of no use.

Contrary to media reports and a statement by the top US military commander, Pakistan’s military says it has no immediate plans to launch a full-scale offensive in the region which is considered the premier Taliban and al Qaeda fortress along the Afghan border.

This was confirmed by a top Pakistani military commander and separately by officials from the foreign ministry at a closed-door briefing for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In the fallout from Osama bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad, US officials are said to have increased pressure on Islamabad to mount an offensive in the region – home to an assortment of militant groups including the fearsome Haqqani network. Earlier this week US Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said that Pakistan’s military had planned an operation in North Waziristan.

But Corps Commander Peshawar Lt-Gen Asif Yasin Malik, who supervises all military operations in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and adjacent tribal regions, said: “We will undertake operation in North Waziristan when we want to.”

“There has been a lot of media hype about the operation,” Malik told journalists in the Mohamad Gat area of the Mohmand Agency, where security forces have been fighting homegrown Taliban since January this year. The journalists were flown to the region by the military to show off apparent progress in the operation.

“We will undertake such an operation when it is in our national interest militarily,” he said, describing North Waziristan as “calm and peaceful as it was weeks ago”.

He said the military was focused on maintaining an already ‘stable’ environment to undertake ‘developmental activity’ in North Waziristan, and confirmed reports that the Razmak cadet college in the area had been reopened.

The United States and its Western allies attribute Pakistan’s reluctance to go after the Haqqanis to its desire to use the network to protect its interests in the post-war Afghanistan.

But Gen Malik sought to quash this notion. “For the Army there is no difference between the Haqqanis, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or the Afghan Taliban. The Army acts against all those militants who are a threat to Pakistan,” he added.

However, he revealed that the Army had planned a full-scale operation in the Kurram tribal district, which borders North Waziristan and has become increasingly violent amid an influx of Taliban fighters. An operation in Kurram would be significant as it would box-in Afghan Taliban militants in North Waziristan, facilitating any future action there.

Government officials are also seeking to deny media reports about North Waziristan operation. “The government has not made any commitment with the US on Waziristan operation,” a senator who attended Wednesday’s briefing quoted a top diplomatic official as telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The committee’s chairperson Salim Saifullah told reporters that the government representatives informed the panel that Pakistan alone would decide whether or not to launch a military operation in Waziristan. Security officials here, however, do not entirely rule out a ‘targeted operation’ in North Waziristan.  They told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity that the primary target of an offensive, if any, would be “white al Qaeda and their Arab and local handlers. But the Haqqanis be spared at this stage,” said an official.

“We have been trying to convince the US that the Haqqani network can be brought to the negotiating table,” said another official. During the recent visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Admiral Mullen, Pakistan made its position very clear that it could not afford to open another war front, he added.

Also the country’s military establishment believes that the Haqqanis are not posing a direct threat to Pakistan’s interests, therefore going after them will have repercussions, a military official told The Express Tribune.

There have been reports that around 500 Western militants, almost half of them of German origin, were undergoing training with various groups based in the agency.

The presence of a small group of American militants, led by Abu Ghaddan, has also been reported many times. Ilyas Kashmiri, the chief of al Qaeda’s 313 brigade, is allegedly supervising the training for these jihadis who can hit back in the countries of their origin.

Some Arabs including Abu Akasha al-Iraqi and a Saudi national Abu Yaya are allegedly coordinating between the local groups and al Qaeda’s recruits from the West.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2011.


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Reader Comments (35)

  • Jun 1, 2011 - 2:52PM

    Ahh yes, nothing to dislodge the haqqanis. they deserve our protection, wwhile Pakistani citizens are picked up, tortured and dumped.Recommend

  • Jun 1, 2011 - 2:57PM

    Funny cos the news came from foreign agency first, it is like putting words into other people mouth.Recommend

  • Ishtiaq Ahmed
    Jun 1, 2011 - 3:07PM

    Any armed rogue force foreign or domestic, whether Haqqani group or TPT, are in grave violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan and must be defeated. Otherwise, Pakistan will not survive. Pakistani Taleban, by taking up arms against the State, are both terrorists and traitors. They have shown no mercy and deserve no mercy.Recommend

  • ashok sai
    Jun 1, 2011 - 3:09PM

    Now we can expect Headley to rollback and say “ISI top officials were involved in 26/11”.Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Jun 1, 2011 - 3:21PM

    “Officials told committee members that Pakistan currently lacked resources for carrying out the operation”
    So the briefing is for an application to donors for resources Recommend

  • Arslan
    Jun 1, 2011 - 3:21PM

    @ashok sai:
    I thought the same… what, an Indian subscribing to conspiracy theories ? ;)Recommend

  • Shafique
    Jun 1, 2011 - 4:00PM

    they ll do the operation to distroy our own military & assets…..
    this is just a tactic for begging…. we need $$$$ to fill our belly n we ll serve u…whatever!!Recommend

  • ashok sai
    Jun 1, 2011 - 4:02PM

    @Arslan:

    Not at all, US has followed this ‘stick and carrot’ policy from the beginning, if NW is stick, 26/11 will be carrot, it is as simple as this, no need for conspiracies at all.

    PS: Thank you for having such an high opinion about Indians, :)Recommend

  • Waqas
    Jun 1, 2011 - 4:10PM

    @ ashok & Other indians

    U r so funny, keep living in ur world of fantasy and conspiracies.

    I wonder what you Indians will do when you meet Mr. Gandhi in hereafter, tell him how India has ‘grown’ totally opposite to what he envisioned, a stubborn, inflexible nation full of hatred and false pomp and show with 85% living under USD 2 per day and super rich making their Billion dollar homes next to the slums.

    A hegemonic min-power spending more on defence, nukes, missiles and arms than on welfare of its people, with totally anti pacifist agenda. A country sitting comfortably in the lap of the the imperialist US, willingly becoming a joker in its hands against China.

    Mr. Gandhi would be so proud, surely!Recommend

  • Asad Hayat Khan
    Jun 1, 2011 - 4:48PM

    @ashok sai:
    Hahahaha..You got it!! Right on target. Recommend

  • FactCheck
    Jun 1, 2011 - 6:50PM

    @Waqas:

    First Pakistan worshipped the Americans, they got tired of the double game. Now Pakistan is worshipping China by giving them land that doesn’t belong to them. Even though you got indpendence in 47, you seem want to be Satrap of one country or another. At this rate of progress, you will get tired of China and China will get tired of your double talk then, you will start worshipping Bangladesh and call them your long lost brothers and say all the atrocities of 1970’s was mistake.

    You want to be colony of one nation or another. In 10 years, Afghanistan is would have progressed more than Pakistan.

    Look at the history of US aiding other countries:

    Western Europe was rebuilt under Marshall plan after WW II.
    Japan was rebuilt entirely with the MacMillan plan

    More recent:

    South Korea

    Now tell me, why Pakistan is not in the league with S.Korea when US gave lot more aid to Pakistan.

    Answer: Pakistan did not have single leader who was or is nationalist wanting to build Pkaistan. They were more interested in building their Swiss Bank Accounts.

    The state affairs is not brought on by the US, it is brought upon you by your civilian and military leaders alike and you citizens of Pakistan let them do it. All your bravado and bellicosity is directed at nations that has nothing to do with your current state, you the people of Pakistan needs to take responsiblity, obviously your leaders haven’t and won’t.Recommend

  • pk
    Jun 1, 2011 - 7:23PM

    @Waqas,

    Please read article of Syed Saleem Shahzad and start thinking in a positive direction
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/ME27Df06.htmlRecommend

  • Sacha Sain
    Jun 1, 2011 - 9:47PM

    There is absolutely no need to open another all out front. If there has to be any operation, it has to be targeted and very specific after consultations with local elders. Pakistan has burned itself enough with this ‘War of Error’. American interest is to keep its military-industrial complex humming at the cost of Pakistani lives.Recommend

  • king
    Jun 1, 2011 - 9:49PM

    @Waqas: Just answer one question when will your millitary come under civillian leadership? For your information, your country has become most dangerous country for journalist. Now start contributing for society. Recommend

  • Zeeeee
    Jun 1, 2011 - 10:13PM

    @pk:
    I have read this article that naval official link with Al-Qaeda….very alarming situation for Pakistan………We have to face reality and should take some positive steps to overcome this crises that Militants supports are presence in our Army and Agencies….Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jun 1, 2011 - 10:52PM

    No operation in N Waziristan? — then expect continued drone attacks and continued perception of Pakistan as an enabler of terrorism.Recommend

  • bc49er
    Jun 1, 2011 - 11:25PM

    Pakistan was given every possible advantage over India at its birth. Muslims had ruled India for a thousand years. The people Pakistan got were the elite of India, the wealthy, the educated. I use the analogy of the whites of South Africa. You had every advantage.

    Pakistan is a born alcoholic that can’t admit he has a drinking problem. What ails the state is the very essence of the state. Recommend

  • S. H. Zaidi
    Jun 2, 2011 - 12:56AM

    When they deny something as obvious as this one, it means it is going to happen. As days go by, we are gotting more and more deeply involved in this war. However, we are as successful in curbing terrorism as the Americans. The latter have only succeeded in increasing terrorism in both Afghanistan and Pakistan due to their wrong policies, use of excessive force. The blokes do not simply realise that the more force they use and the more peole they kill, particularly the collateral damage they inflict through indiscriminate bombings, the more easy they make for the Taliban and al Qaeda to get new recruits. They have forced the Pakistan government, too, perhaps through threats and bribes, to use more and more force. But the net result for the latter is destruction and damage of unprecedented proportions. A side bonus of this is that confusion is spreading among the rulers and the ruled in this country. They simply do not realise who is friend and who is foe, or, as some would put it, simply who is a bigger enemy.
    Once the operatin starts, the terrorists they fear would flee N. Wasiristatn and spread into major urban areas of Pakistan. Result would be more havoc and more destruction.
    The imperialists today have, unfortunately,
    unprecedented power in their hands to destroy. And they are faced with an equally unscrupulous enemy. It would be much cheaper for them to try and change their policies. If they can adopt reasonably fair policies, the terrorists might lose steam in due course of time. The people can rest assured, in the meantime,that the ‘terrorists’ are no anti-imperialist fighters against exploitation. Their objective is simply incomprehensible to most people. Recommend

  • Arindom
    Jun 2, 2011 - 2:32AM

    Cannot attack N.Wazirstan – thats where the ‘strategic assets’ are!Recommend

  • Jun 2, 2011 - 7:23AM

    @S. H. Zaidi:
    America is already called the evilest of the evils. What exactly is the next step in the label rankings?

    I say America should stop playing nice and live up to their label to make everyone happy. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.Recommend

  • omar yusaf
    Jun 2, 2011 - 7:38AM

    @TightDhoti: What has this got to do with the Haqqani group? They restrict their fight to NATO forces occupying Afghanistan. They do not target Pakistan. The TTP target Pakistan.Recommend

  • R S JOHAR
    Jun 2, 2011 - 9:25AM

    There cannot be any smoke without fire. Operations in NWA have been presently stalled for some unknown reasons.Recommend

  • Amjad Zafar
    Jun 2, 2011 - 10:01AM

    If you people could figure out the timing and ultimate beneficiary of these attacks in Pakistan then you will find that America is trying to weaken Pakistan in order to get Indian appeased. America ultimate wants to pull India into war with China in order to destroy both India and China and to gain control over the whole region. The real solution to today’s problem of Pakistan is to over throw the puppet government in Pakistan and to take the America on the verge of its economic collapse and make a situation where the united states of America do not remain united and create new countries on American continent and once America gets disintegrated, India will automatically get disintegrated. Today America is pressing on Pakistan to conduct massive operation in North Waziristan because he wants to have a safe passsage to escape from Aghanistan Recommend

  • Arshad Jamal Butt
    Jun 2, 2011 - 10:14AM

    @Cautious:
    There will be more drone attacks if operation do not start but if operation starts there will be more sucide attacks on innocent people of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Kasim
    Jun 2, 2011 - 10:56AM

    @Amjad Zafar: Do you think Pakistan is strong now and America want to weaken it. Rubbish Conspiracy theory. Pakistan is going to be more weaker if Haqqani network is allowed to be active.

    If this group is not controlled now, then Allah also cannot save our Country. Terrorism by any one cannot be reconcilable. We are going to see with tears that our Country will be broken in to Pieces.Recommend

  • R S JOHAR
    Jun 2, 2011 - 11:11AM

    @Mark:
    You are spot on but my reading is that you will not be able to take the monkey off your back for the next ten years. R S Johar India Recommend

  • Jun 2, 2011 - 11:23AM

    Vienna,02-06-2011

    I enjoy reading so many devilish thoughts.The enlightened rational views are missing.
    When mind suffers body gets destroyed even if it is land of the pure Pakistan´s body.
    Make note mad man does not realize he is indeed mad.
    Kulamarva Balakrishna Recommend

  • S.R.H. Hashmi
    Jun 2, 2011 - 12:00PM

    It is with a sigh of great relief that I learned that Pakistani authorities , contrary to the statements from US authorities, and reports emanating from within Pakistan, have no plans to start an immediate, all out operation in North Wziristan. The statement is all the more assuring coming from Lt-Gen. Asif Yasin Malik, the general in charge of operations in KP province. There is absolutely no reason to go after people who pose no threat to Pakistan and Pakistanis and thus open up a new source of retaliatory attacks of which we already have more than we can handle. Americans want it because their aim is to destabilize the whole of Pakistan and I don’t see why have to oblige them on that.

    Through their words and deeds, Americans and their accomplices have made it abundantly clear that they are no friends of Muslims. Pakistan, with large well-trained military and the only nuclear power in the Muslim world is a special challenge to them and they have plans to dismember and defang it. In this, they also have the active help from India and Israel. Israel just pointed a finger at Iran and the US and its pack of hunting dogs is howling at Iran, and they are doing the best they can to cripple Iran. Now, Israel has described Pakistan to be an even greater threat than Iran and one can well imagine what the reaction of these slaves of Israel will be.

    How much influence Israel carries in the United States was well-demonstrated by a recent speech that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently made at the joint session of the Congress where the rubbish speech which introduced no new ideas received standing ovation so many times that one writer concluded that the audience perhaps heard the whole speech standing. Nearly all of the US political candidates consider it essential to secure the support of pro-Israel lobbies which also brings them hefty campaign donations. Even the presidential candidates firmly believe that the way to the president’s house leads through the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) a pro-Israel lobby so we can well imagine how much Barack Obama would be prepared to do in order to appease AIPAC, and dismembering and defanging nuclear Pakistan could be the one step that could ensure Obama’s re-entry into the White House for a second time, which is about all that seems to matter to him, despite his fancy words and speeches, which are only for the show and an attempt to fool the Muslim world.

    In the coming days, there could be even more pressure from the Americans to start a full-fledged operation in North Waziristan and I hope our military would be able to withstand it and tell the Americans to stop the drone attacks and other illegal, cross-border operations. Pakistanis had enough of the Americans and their hunting dogs. We can’t take any more.Recommend

  • Sher
    Jun 2, 2011 - 12:12PM

    TTP is funded by CIA etc n Haqqani network is not a threat to pakistan, it is a threat to Afg occupying forces ISAF. In a strategic conference Afg/Pak/US, the american general in Afg was askd dat y dnt u start a reconciliation process, in arguement he said dat u want america to spare the killers of 9/11, he was answerd by Gen _ dat den u americans hav made a big mistake by bombing n killing afghanis n pakistanis cuz da killers of 9/11 were not Afg n Pakistanis, infact all da 9/11 hijackers were saudis n frm egypt, so dey wer da killers, americans shud ve bombed saudi arabia n egypt. To get one man u ve killed innocent civilians.Recommend

  • Ashutosh Jain
    Jun 2, 2011 - 1:20PM

    @Amjad Zafar…ROFL!!! great fantasies Mr. Zafar. I am sure even you don’t believe what you say.
    Pakistan will bring America to the verge of collapse and cause disintegration of both US and India!!! Hahahaha.
    Joke of the century :D:D:D:DRecommend

  • Jun 2, 2011 - 2:05PM

    This operation will be very expensive for pakistan really because they people are very brave and fight wiht army as like train and expert army so i recomend for owr Governoment to avoid such type of activity Recommend

  • Jun 2, 2011 - 2:56PM

    @Amjad Zafar:
    You overestimate yourself and underestimate America. If we wanted your country, we could have easily taken it by now instead of dealing with you. You represent danger in the world. Notsomething attractive to possess. It’d be a burden, really.Recommend

  • Someone
    Jun 2, 2011 - 2:57PM

    @FactCheck: “In 10 years, Afghanistan is would have progressed more than Pakistan.”

    LOL. I hope you were being sarcastic here and that this lifeless comment was not driven by your delusional anti-Pak sentiment.Recommend

  • Wasim
    Jun 4, 2011 - 12:49PM

    Haqqani guys are better for Pakistan than that Karzai guy and his ANA army.Recommend

  • sally
    Jun 5, 2011 - 3:52AM

    I work with some pakistanis and after bin laden was taken out by US I didn’t say anything to the pakis at work because I didn’t want them to feel offended since their hero was killed. I am also veeery veerry afraid of pakis . I am very scared. what to do about my fears?Recommend

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