Taliban ‘defeated’ in South Waziristan: Pakistani Army spokesman


Major General Athar Abbas, the Director General of Inter Services Public Relations.

Here is a very bad sign that the Pakistani Army views the very narrow offensive against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in South Waziristan as sufficient to defeat the Taliban. Major General Athar Abbas, the top military spokesman, in Reuters:

‘You have defeated the main, strongest terrorist organisation of the area and it will create effects all around.

It creates voids all around and will open more options for the state and military,’ Abbas said.

‘Maybe you don’t have to conduct more operations. By those effects you can achieve those objectives,’ he said.

As I’ve explained, Hakeemullah Mehsud’s forces have regrouped outside of South Waziristan (they were always well established in the tribal areas and the great northwest). They are sheltering in areas where the military cut peace agreements with “good” Taliban leaders. Without taking on the Taliban in these regions, they will not be defeated, but merely displaced.

Also see Syed Saleem Shahzad’s excellent piece in the Asia Times on this subject.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.



  • jayc says:

    Peshawar Paul making statements like this is akin to Lee Corso picking your team on ESPN College Game Day; it just leaves a bad spot in your stomach.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    Oh yes, only a month into the offensive and by Pakistani accounts around 530-540 Taliban out of 10,000 killed, no leaders killed or captured, and it’s a victory.
    Are they really so worried about an Indian invasion and eager to keep their southern border reinforced?

  • Spooky says:

    You mean Pindi Pete or Rawalpindi Ron. I don’t think General Abbas would risk his neck enough to go anywhere near Peshawar. 😛
    The Pakistan military is worried about everything else BUT Hakeemullah. They have a Baloch insurgency to take care of, including possible Iranian retaliations, the possibility of Sindh rioting if PPP loses power due to Zardari’s stupidity, Zardari himself, possible rioting in Northern Areas over voting and last but not least, India.

  • Viliger says:

    From the same Reuters report that Bill refers to:
    “More than 300,000 people have left their homes and taken refuge in areas outside the conflict zone”
    While the Pak army are busy locking up the barn doors after the horses have bolted, sounds like the greatest suffering is that of the Unknown Villager.

  • Neo says:

    There certainly seems to be tendency for overstatement and overgeneralization among Pakistani officials, even when aren’t full of baloney. I’m sure the General is genuinely happy about progress in this month’s offensive in South Waziristan. He needs to be a good deal more careful about characterizing the context and limits of what has been achieved though. The Taliban isn’t done fighting in Waziristan, even though attempts at directly confronting the Pakistani Army were a total failure. The Taliban also has plenty of remaining areas to reconstitute their operations.
    I would advise using a little caution in drawing our own conclusions about this month campaign though. Assessing what just happened in South Waziristan is difficult since we have only fragments of information. The other limitation is we don’t know much about how things are going for the Taliban either. I am reminded of the immediate aftermath of the Iraqi Basra campaign where everyone had their own ideas about what was going on and which side was winning. DJ headed up quite a lively conversation on this board, if I remember right.
    At this point, I don’t think we have had a very good discussion about what has happened in South Waziristan and what it might mean. Admittedly without enough good information to go on, any real assessments are tenuous at best.

  • yash says:

    This shows that they see the insurgency the same way as the conventional war

  • Ahmad Tariq says:

    Perhaps, the infrastructure the Hakeemullah group was using is in the hands of Pakistani Army, which is why they probably think it is victory time. But soon once the Hakeemullah group re-establishes itself in North Waziristan or might even cross over to Afghanistan (thanks to checkposts emptied by coalition forces there) would be a greater danger than before by engaging in tactics harsher and more heinous attacks on Pakistani cities to teach the Pakistani Govt. a lesson for taking on the Hakeemullah group.

  • Neo says:

    South Waziristan – Tracking the news releases – And some speculation.
    As we are all aware news from South Waziristan is under tight control. So far no one has really provided an extensive report on what happened over the last month or any sort of detailed assessment of the operations impact on the Taliban. There is a great deal of bravado from the Pakistani military over winning the engagement. The Taliban on the other hand is claiming that there was a strategic withdrawal from South Waziristan and that they will be back in force to carry out a gorilla war. The question is who is closer to the truth? I’ll take a stab at what might be going on but realize it is only a working hypotheses.
    There is a fair amount of information out there if one goes hunting around for bits and pieces, engagement reports, and a limited number of first hand accounts. As some of you are aware, I have made a little project out of plotting a list of villages named in the news releases and also other villages that are near the action. First hand accounts have been given for the battle in Kotkai and Sherwangai during the first days of the campaign. Just recently reporters were taken into Ladha and Sararogha to view the extensive damage cause by days of battle in both places.
    So what happened? Did the Pakistani army just walk into a largely empty battlefield that had already been largely abandon as a strategic move by the Taliban. Did we see a sizable rear guard get quickly pushed out? Has the Taliban largely sidestepped the governments advance or has Soutn Waziristan been going much worse for the Taliban.
    First, it does appear that the Pakistani army has quickly met their first stage goals and many of their second stage goals as well. It took only a month to penetrate most of the way down the Badder river valley past Kaniguram and Ladha, as far as Satta. Likewise the offensive from Jandola toward Katkai and Sararogha has proceeded quickly with a few sharp fights along the way. Troops attacking from Razmak toward Makin were a little less ambitious during the first weeks of the campaign but they have picked up the pace quite a bit over the last ten days. By all reports Taliban resistance everywhere was very heavy the first five days with the fights at Sherwangai and Kotkai being particularly intensive.
    On October 24 I found this article http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=25163 that pretty much laid out the Pakistani phase one objectives. It meshed perfectly with the villages that I had already plotted out. It was also apparent that the Pakistani army was quickly taking its phase one objectives and moving on to phase two. So the Pakistani army was definitely taking its objectives, but the question was; what sort of resistance were they meeting?
    A close look at the battlefield as well as a little history of the fighting in this region give some clues as to how the Taliban might try to fight. The road from Jandola to Katkai than Sararogha is along a relatively barren riverbed. The terrain is rocky but barren and any large group of fighters trying to move would find itself exposed. The Pakistani army would find it easy to move quickly up this route using the dry riverbed and land alongside the main road. The Taliban was dug in at a few locations along the way but would have to melt away in small numbers to avoid being targeted out in the open. Above Sararogha the terrain becomes a lot more friendly for hidden Taliban. There are rough hills and quite a few habitations.
    The Badder Valley between Sherwangai, Kaniguram, and Ladha consists of a series of smooth sandstone ridges and high points, first across the invasion path than parallel to the Badder Valley. These ridges are barren on the south face and wooded on the north. The tops of the ridges are occupied by houses with substantial towers and built up paths along the tops of the ridges.
    In past wars the locals would take advantage of the ridges to quickly move around and find advantages above the enemy. If the locals owned the ridge tops, the only way for an invader to fight would be through an endless series of ridges. They would usually find themselves isolated and exhausted unless they beat the Taliban at its own tactics and themselves quickly moved along the ridges. From Google Earth it was plain to see that the Taliban had literally hundreds of prepared positions along these ridge-tops and high points. The problem though is most of these ridges are completely exposed to above, and taking cover in the woods from over-flying aircraft leaves you out of line of sight for defending yourself against infantry. Invading infantry on the other hand can take full advantage of the wooded areas on the north slopes of these ridges while artillery and air assets pound any Taliban fighters foolish enough to hold their positions along the top of the ridges. I also see accounts of troops taking key high points astride Kaniguram by helicopter. The Taliban’s defense of Kaniguram was a bit of a fizzle after Pakistani troops took the heights surrounding the town.
    I believe the Taliban did try to mount a conventional defense of the Badder Valley for at least the initial four days of heavy fighting. I also believe they quickly found their hilltop fortifications to be worse than useless against extensive air power and shelling. By all accounts the Taliban had extensively prepared for the defense of Kaniguram. The heights around Kaniguram were quickly seized and both infantry and light armor were brought up west of Kaniguram. I believe the Taliban saw the situation had become a trap not for the Pakistani army but for themselves, and ran for the hills north of the Ladha fort. The Taliban fought an extensive and costly rear guard action at Ladha to get their fighters out of the area and into the mountains as quickly as possible. Likewise in the Sararogha area the Taliban quickly retreated to the rough terrain north of town.
    I could very well be wrong, but I find myself at odds with most of the views I have seen from analysts who tend to believe that the Taliban had already left the area. I believe the Pakistani army is largely accurate in their assessment, but has a tendency for bravado that makes them somewhat difficult to believe, especially with their history of screwing things up. I have come a tentative position that the Taliban had not left and did not fight a small scale engagement, but lost a large scale engagement and are now in full retreat in two spread out masses. The first mass is retreating in the rough terrain north of Sararogha toward Mir Koni in North Waziristan. As of today the Pakistani army is right behind them at Janata. To the immediate west of this the Taliban is retreating from the Makin and Razmak and Satta areas toward the north toward the Razmak – Ghariom road. The Ghariom check point is near Mir Ali, tentatively identified at (32.822 N, 69.975 E). I have seen a few indications in Pakistani military chat that the Ghariom check point may have been reinforced very recently. Some reports have the Pakistani army in Makin moving north toward the Lattaka area (32.646 N, 69.888 E).
    If I am right, there is a whole mess of Taliban basically running toward the safety of the North Waziristan border and the Mir Ali and Mir Koni areas. A second mass of Taliban fighters is cut off to the west of Ladha and Makin areas and is making their way through the high mountain passes to the west. Over the last ten days Pakistani troops from Razmak have suddenly made a lot of headway around Makin . The mountain villages and ridges to the west that were heavily defended have all suddenly fallen. This may indicate that the Taliban have abandon their fortified positions and leaving the area as quickly as possible.
    As for the relatively low death counts of Taliban fighters it seems that the Pakistani army is only counting recovered bodies this time around. I have seen little of the wildly exaggerated numbers reported in the first two weeks of the Swat campaign. I haven’t seen any estimates of Taliban killed a long range or from the air. If the Taliban are losing men they aren’t telling and the Pakistani army isn’t stopping to look for fresh grave sites.
    So that’s my credibility buster for the month. I realize that my thoughts on this are directly in the opposite direction of much of the thinking here. I’ll prepare myself for the rotten tomatoes thrown in my direction. Oh well; One nice thing about staying in the comment section is you can say whatever you want and everyone can ignore you.

  • KW64 says:

    Re: NEO
    I don’t doubt the Pakistani army has been active or that given their past success that the Taliban would have fought initially, thinking the army would back down like in the past. The question here is really concern that the Pak army will not remain active for long if they are making claims of decisive victory.
    Right now, I am satisfied with the Pakistani army’s actions.

  • Neo says:

    After rereading my rather speculative assessment, I should probably tone it down a bit. I didn’t mean to give the impression that the entire Taliban in South Waziristan was headed for the North Waziristan boarder. I do suspect that a major segment of Taliban forces in South Waziristan are heading for safety. They will leave behind plenty of fighters to harass the Pakistani Army as well. If the Taliban isn’t going to mount a conventional defense, than the excess troops they have in South Waziristan are just targets. If they want to mount a gorilla campaign they want to keep their numbers relatively thin.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram