Pakistani Army, Taliban clash in Waziristan


The Pakistani military and the Taliban clashed in the Taliban-controlled tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan.

The Taliban claimed to have killed 45 Pakistani soldiers after assaulting two security checkpoints in Ramzak, a military garrison town on the border of South Waziristan. A battalion of more than 600 Taliban fighters attacked the two outposts in Ramzak, according to Dawn. Azam Tariq, the new spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, confirmed the attack.

The Pakistani military claimed eight Taliban fighters were killed during the assault but did not report its own casualties.

In South Waziristan, Pakistani Army helicopter gunships struck Taliban camps in the strongholds of Makeen and Spina Tigha. The military said 26 Taliban fighters were killed in the attack.

The clashes in North and South Waziristan take place more than a week after the Pakistani government gave the military the approval to launch an operation in Waziristan. The military indicated it was "looking for a suitable time to launch the operation," according to Dawn. There are reports the Pakistani government has begun forming lashkars, or tribal militias, to support the operation. But the military has discarded so-called "pro-government" Taliban leaders like Haji Turkistan Bhittani, who opposes the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.

The last operations in South Waziristan was launched in mid-June and fizzled out after the US airstrike killed Baitullah Mehsud, the former leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The military initially claimed it was moving into South Waziristan in force, but after meeting stiff resistance, the plan was changed to blockade the region and hit the Taliban with air and artillery strikes.

The military has said it has no intentions of conducting operations in North Waziristan, and also said an operation in South Waziristan likely wouldn't begin until next spring.

Background on recent fighting in North and South Waziristan

The Pakistani military has avoided directly confronting the Taliban in North and South Waziristan after suffering a string of humiliating defeats there between 2004 and 2008. The most recent operations in Waziristan resulted in peace agreements that have ceded control of the region to the Taliban.

The last time the Pakistani military took on the Taliban in North Waziristan was in October 2007. The Pakistani military and the Taliban fought pitched battles after the military launched artillery barrages and helicopter and attack aircraft assaults against Taliban-controlled villages in North Waziristan.

The Taliban responded by setting up complex ambushes, including surface-to-air missile traps, a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. Several Pakistani Army helicopters were said to have been shot down during the fighting. The Pakistani military claimed that 120 Taliban and 45 soldiers were killed in the fighting, but independent reports put the number of soldiers killed much higher.

At the end of October 2007, the government pushed for a peace deal, and the fighting waned. The Taliban, led by the Haqqani Network and Hafiz Gul Bahadar, remained entrenched in the region. In February 2008, an official peace agreement was signed.

The last major operation against the Taliban in South Waziristan took place in late January 2008. The military launched an offensive with the declared aim of dislodging Baitullah Mehsud's forces from entrenched positions. Prior to the military's offensive, the Taliban overran two military forts and conducted numerous attacks against Pakistani forces. More than a dozen of Pakistan's elite counterterrorism commandos were killed in a single engagement.

The military claimed to have ejected the Taliban from strongholds in Kotkai and Jandola, however, and said it killed Qari Hussain. But Hussain later mocked the government during a press conference in May 2008.

Just 11 days after the fighting in South Waziristan had begun, the military sued for peace. The Taliban retook control of Jandola four months later, after murdering dozens from a rival tribe while the military looked on. The military has since abandoned several forts in South Waziristan and has kept activity there to a minimum.

Taliban forces belonging to Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the new leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, Mullah Nazir, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, and the Haqqanis, led by Jalaluddin's son Sirajuddin, have only grown stronger since defeating the Pakistani military during engagements in 2007 and 2008. Tens of thousands of fighters are under the collective command of these leaders.

Map of the Ramzak/Makeen region:


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READER COMMENTS: "Pakistani Army, Taliban clash in Waziristan"

Posted by G-Shock at September 22, 2009 4:01 AM ET:


I need to point out something. I have noticed in recent past and this is very obvious is that P-stan supports Haqqani's, and groups in northern W-stan just because they don't have Jihadist ideology against P-stan and all their guns are pointed towards US in A-stan and these are the main groups breaking US back in Af-stan, whereas P-stan is hitting hard in Southern W-stan where the main group exists of TTP and ppl like (Baitullah) and Hakeemullah who among other things declared Jihad against P-stan and for this reason P-stan has also allow most of the Predator strikes in that region. If US thinks that they can win the war by just predator strikes in South W-stan and that Hakumullah and there arab friends are the only treat then they are wrong. Since their actual enemy is P-stan itself, who are supporting Haqqani's, nazir and others who are death for US in Af-stan just because they have soft corner for P-stan.

US should start attacking ISI in P-stan and hit them with hellfire who supports Haqqani's etc doesn't this make sense? Or otherwise US hopes to drown in their own sweat.

Posted by Paul at September 22, 2009 1:02 PM ET:

Bill,
maybe I'm naive but if the Taliban are sending a battlaion of 600+ troops against the PA why arent't they calling in gunships and engaging this amount of fighters and mowing them down? This is what you want; the Taliban in open battles which they will lose. Their strength lies in the coward guerilla tactics.

Posted by jayc at September 22, 2009 2:52 PM ET:

The Pakistani daily Dawn has just reported that the US Congress has just approved 2.3bn in aid for Pakistan. This comes on the heels of revelations from General Musharraf that previous financial aid was diverted for other clandestine programs. Hmm..
Has anyone seen the critically acclaimed movie "The Kite Runner"? While the film was Afghani in origin, I can't help but draw a parallel. At one point in the movie, the father was giving a check to a man to build something of importance. After the man left, the fathers friend said to him wryly, "You know that the politicians will steal half of that?" To which the man replied, "Only half?, they must be getting lazy."

Posted by chatiii at September 22, 2009 3:03 PM ET:

paul - how can you sit there and call guriller tactics cowardly and then, in the same post, ask bill why pak military doesnt use gunships to "mow" taliban down??? If i use your way of thought, i would say using air-superiority is more cowardly than using guriller tactics......the US dropping 2 nukes on japan because they didnt want to lose 10's of thousands of soldiers in an invasion IS EVEN MORE COWARDLY!!! but people dont care about whats cowardly or whats not......they just do what works to get the job done. The Pakistani military, if it wanted to, could savage the taliban all over waziristan and the tribal areas, but they would kill 10's of thousands of civillians (just like what happened in sri lanker) in the process which would probably open the doors of hell (you think iraq was bad? trust me you havent seen nothing yet). The pakistani population led by various militant groups would rise up and with the help of certain members with-in the army and ISI, would over throw the goverment. NOW.....we have militant groups that not only have a whole country to operate in, but also have access to military hardware and those nightmare giving nukes that would distabalise the whole region and probably the whole world........the bottom line is, i personally think the mother of all fears for the U.S. (islamic khalifat state) will be established in the next couple of decades and the catalyst will be the disasterous situation that ive mentioned above. And bill knows exactly what im talking about

Posted by Spooky at September 22, 2009 5:26 PM ET:

G-shock-

First off, talk about overuse of abbreviated names.

Second, attack the ISI, are you insane? They control Pakistan, they control our supplies, they have a 1 million man army at their disposal to use if we make them enemies, and thats just the reasons off the top of my head why we shouldn't attack them.

Yes, the ISI is a thorn in America's side, yes Pakistan is protecting its own interests first (as is the right and duty of ANY independant nation), but to punish them with military action would not only screw us over in the war, we'd actually be liable to LOSE the majority of our forces in Afghanistan in the resulting perfect storm of Taliban AND Pakistan military. And thats regardless if we win or lose, and an absolute guarentee we'd never be trusted again.

Careful what you suggest.

Posted by seruriermarshal at September 22, 2009 7:17 PM ET:

Bill here are some interesting information .

A Q Khan reveals Pak-China-North Korea-Iran nuke links

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/AQ-Khan-blows-the-whistle-on-Pakistan/articleshow/5034866.cms

Posted by Paul at September 22, 2009 11:19 PM ET:

Chatiii,
you missed the whole point of my post. Suffice to say what you suggets will never come to pass. No fascist ideology will ever supplant freedom. We would nuke the whole world before letting that happen. Radical Islam is in a losing game. Their just to stupid to figure it out yet.

Posted by David M at September 23, 2009 9:58 AM ET:

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 09/23/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Posted by G-Shock at September 23, 2009 10:11 AM ET:

Spooky,

Why are we fighting a lost war? On one hand we want to win against extremist and on the other hand we also want them to win by actually giving them aid, I think we are supporting terrorist even more than the Arabs?..I see nothing but a terrible defeat for us.
Can you help me with the war strategy? What is our foresight? What's the time frame?

Posted by Barekzai at September 24, 2009 2:01 AM ET:

Spooky,

If there's any war that can be won decisively by US forces, it 's a hot war against another army. let's not forget that Iraq too was once boasting about its million man army. The US can pulverize the Pakistani army hands down, and that's a given. As for your rant regrding their "national interest", since when do we oblige "national interests" that nurture terrorism as an extension of their foreign policy?

Be that as it may, Pakistan will disintegrate by a thousand cuts. However, apologizing for them is a sure way to drop our guard, when the wounded dog dcides to bite.

Posted by ratee at September 24, 2009 3:02 PM ET:

You are losing the battle in Afghanistan and now you are thinking of expanding the war to Pakistan.

Pakistan has defeated Taliban in the only settled area of Swat and the public has taken up arms against them. However some people are implying Nato should attack Pakistan now. Are you people out of your mind?

Fighting in the Waziristan area is the most difficult and Pakistan has to be cautious that the tribesmen in this area do not rebel against the army. British army was defeated three times in this area. All other invading armies also never successful in conquering this area. In fact no outside army has been successful militarily.

Pakistan has sealed this area and is pulverizing this area with air action and has very successful in this air operation. Its ground forces will move later according to the military sources when they are sure of victory.

This looks a sensible strategy then one espoused by most writers who don't recognize the nature of the people living here and the terrain of this area nor the history of the region.

Posted by Spooky at September 25, 2009 1:55 AM ET:

G Shock-

I had an answer for you, but my post never made it I guess.

Barekzai-

Iraq is not Pakistan. Not even close. Pakistan has the most powerful military in all the muslim world. Thanks mostly to our weaponry and taxes.

And note I did not say we would lose, I said we'd win at the loss of most of our troops in the region, because we would STILL be fighting the Taliban AND the Pakistanis, with more area to cross, and NO supplies in the hinterland, since Pakistan is where they go through, and if they get desperate enough: nukes.

As for my supposed "rant" (didn't know two sentences was a rant these days), I am stating cold fact. They will not do what we tell them just because we say so. Doesn't matter if we pay them, because they do not worship the almighty dollar.They will do what they believe is best for them, as is the right of any sovereign nation, for good or ill. In other words, since you seem to think I'm apologizing for them, they are not following our lead because its not logical for them to, from their perspective (which is all that matters, since its, y'know, THEIR COUNTRY).

Going to war with Pakistan is madness, especially when we're already stretched thin, and the public (on both sides of the aisle) is starting to turn away from the otherwise just reasoning behind the war. Apart from the military problems a war with them would cost, which I already mentioned, it would also add more time to how long we would need to accomplish ANY of our goals, whatever they may be.

The best way to get Pakistan to stay in line is to appeal to their self-interest. Not money, since they could ultimately go to the Chinese if need be, since China wants Gwadar to punk India with, among other things. To stay with their self-interest, recognize (or rather, threaten to recognize), Balochistan as independant, or take India's side on the Kashmir debate. Seeing Kosovo, you know what that could do to Pakistan as a whole.

Of course, one should be careful and not actually do it, since one would lose their bargaining chip and also make them an instant enemy....