Bajaur cleared of Taliban: Pakistani general

A top Pakistani general claimed recently that the Taliban have been driven from a region in the northwest that has served as an al Qaeda and Taliban haven for the past nine years.

The Taliban and al Qaeda have been defeated in the tribal agency Bajaur after a two-month-long offensive that began in January, according to Major General Tariq Khan, the commander of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps.

“The militant command and control centres and their caches have been dismantled or captured,” Khan told The Sunday Times.

“We have now cleared this area till the Afghan border, military operation is in its final stages and policing has been started,” Khan told Dawn.

Khan claimed that the Taliban in Bajaur have suffered significant casualties over the past two months, with 75 fighters killed and 76 detained, and another 364 fighters who surrendered. He also claimed that the Taliban have lost more than 2,200 fighters in combat in Bajaur since 2008, while the military have lost only 149 troops there.

The Taliban and al Qaeda were dug into a series of caves and ridges in the Damadola region in Bajaur, Khan told Dawn. He also declared that the Taliban leadership has been smashed in Bajaur and has fled.

“There were Egyptians, Uzbeks, Chechens and Afghans killed in the operation,” Khan said. “Al Qaeda was there. They had occupied the ridges. There were 156 caves designed as a defensive complex.”

“Now their leadership does not exist. Twenty-five per cent of them have gone to Afghanistan, 15 per cent have gone back to Swat and other native areas,” Khan stated.

Major General Khan’s claim that the Taliban have been crushed in Bajaur comes one year and one day after he previously claimed the Taliban were defeated there.

“They have lost,” Khan told reporters on March 1, 2009, after a brutal campaign that began in August 2008 was declared to have ended. “Their resistance has broken down. We think we have secured this agency. The Taliban have lost their cohesion.”

But the Taliban continued to exert control in Bajaur during 2009, killing tribal leaders who dared to work with the Pakistani government and military.

Taliban “no longer significant” in the tribal areas: Khan

Major General Khan also claimed in his recent interview that the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has been defeated throughout the tribal areas after a series of operations that began in October 2009 in South Waziristan.

“The kind of hits the leadership has taken, the casualties they have taken, the TTP [the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] is no longer significant,” he told The Sunday Times. “It has ended as a cohesive force. It doesn’t exist any more as an umbrella organization that can influence militancy anywhere.”

The Pakistani Taliban have suffered setbacks in Pakistan’s northwest over the past year, primarily in Swat, a settled district outside of the tribal areas, when the military launched a major operation in April 2009. The military also claimed to have successfully driven out the Taliban in the Mehsud tribal areas following the operation that began in October 2009.

But the Taliban maintain a significant presence in the tribal areas, including in the Wazir regions in the western areas of South Waziristan, and in North Waziristan, Arakzai, Khyber, Kurram, and Mohmand. The Taliban in the Mehsud tribal areas in the eastern region of South Waziristan conducted a tactical retreat and resettled in North Waziristan, Arakzai, Kurram, and Khyber.

The military has launched limited operations in Kurram and Khyber over the past four months but has failed to dislodge the Taliban. Khan, who claimed in October 2009 that operations in Khyber were successful in defeating the Taliban, said today that a new operation would be launched there as well as in neighboring Arakzai.

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



  • jayc says:

    It’s not just a matter of the Paks defeating the Taliban militarily. It’s more of a matter of winning hearts and minds. Does the Pak establishment have the stomach for a long term commitment?

  • Spooky says:

    So long as there exists “FATA” rather than districts as part of the NWFP or Afghanistan, that answer is no. FATA is a legally established anarchic (in terms of modern governance) region. So long as it exists on paper, the Pakistani government will hide behind it as an excuse not to spend money and time on the problem.

  • Marlin says:

    I am glad to hear of these Pakistani Army plans, but like jayc I wonder about their ability to hold for a long time before transferring successfully to a well-trained (by them), but more localized force.

    Security forces have taken control of Bajaur’s Damadola, known as the nerve-centre of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, and are now bracing themselves for an offensive in Orakzai Agency and Tirah valley of Khyber Agency.
    “We are facing problems in Orakzai and Tirah and will launch operations there in the near future,”

  • T Ruth says:

    Pak winning hearts and minds? Since when is that on the curriculum in their training camps?
    You need to have a heart and mind to win one….

  • Zeissa says:

    Good job, but clearing out the command centers doesn’t mean they aren’t still in the region.
    I most of all want to see the PState collapse, but it’s always nice to see the good parts have some success.
    Truth: I’m sure they have hearts and minds. They just think and operately differently than us… very differently.

  • Zeissa says:

    Anyway I’m very skeptical to his numbers. I would make a very rough guess a quarter of the C&C is still intact and half of it just moved out of the region rather than his 75% destroyed and 25% retreat figure. I’m also skeptical of his 150 casualty figure for his own troops, he could easily be lying it down from for example 200-300.

  • Zeissa says:

    Fog of war at any rate, all I see is there’s been some fighting, the Taliban probably took the worst of it and they’ve been mildly to upper-intermediately damaged (mostly in terms of daylight, open control of the centralized parts of territory), most of all that the FC now has a meaningful presence there again.

  • Charley says:

    Can pigs fly now?

  • Solomon2 says:

    Sad to say, if the Pakistani government was good at “winning hearts and minds” wouldn’t East Pakistan still be part of the country? Would the people of Swat ever have seen the Taliban as a desirable alternative?
    Look at the history of Pakistan’s wars for a clue. Mr. Bhutto boasted that Pakistani would fight forever against India in 1965, as long as it received U.S. support. This vision of eternal human suffering to inflate the ego and glory-seeking urges of the leadership class still exists today, or else 300,000 people would never have become refugees last year.

  • radioman says:

    This Pak General is shielding the movements of AQ leadership

  • T Ruth says:

    Zeissa, i wasn’t referring to philosophy of thought.
    Millions of Pakistanis simply do not have enough food in their stomachs. Food insecurity is a major issue in Pak and regardless of the Army’s philosophy towards hearts and minds that remains a fact. There are millions of forgotten Pakisatanis (sorry, Freudian slip, but them too), millions of Pakistanis who are not represented by the Army or by their incompetent self-serving politicians who are driving this country into the ground.
    Millions of children are deprived of a proper education or any education and women lack basic rights. Clean drinking water is a problem across many parts of the country. What are they going to win hearts and minds with? Promises and lies?
    So, i reiterate the Pak govt has no heart, and the mind is of a culture of violence, corruption and deceipt. Moreover, they have no money.
    The situation is awfully ripe for a peoples revolution and it may well be an Islamic one a la Iran 1979. The Taliban may well come ‘home’ to the Pak Army and assure the world that the nuclear weapons are safe with them.
    Our only prayer can be that Pakistan comes apart before it becomes any more purely Islamic than it already is.

  • Neo says:

    They’re all hanging out in Kamdish waiting for the next fighting season. They’ll make their way back into Bajaur in late spring.
    From the General’s perspective the operation has probably been a success. The Taliban probably won’t be engaging in any large scale operations north of Peshawar or Mardan this spring. It will be mainly bombings and small unit fighting until summer rolls around.
    Don’t knock it. About this time last year the Taliban had pushed their way through Buner District and made it as far as Charbaugh and Swabi. For those of you who remember, a Taliban convoy took a rather provocative victory lap down the Mardan-Swabi highway and paraded their way into the city of Mardan. It’s been less than a full year since.

  • JT says:

    It seems that there are basically only two regions of note that the Pakistani military has not been significantly involved in over the past several years: Orakzai (which they claim to have plans to go after within a week) and North FUBAR (Mike Baker’s term for North and Sounth Waziristan).
    Apparently, North Waziristan is one of the hot spots for the big kahuna OBL as well, and Pakistan has been signaling plans for going in there also (later this year, but recent pamphlet drops there indicate it may be soon).
    This, with recent captures in Karachi and elsewhere, make me more optimistic than I have been in quite a while.

  • Mr T says:

    Kamdish? Where is that and why do you say they went there?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Kamdish is in Nuristan. Here is reason why the theory is plausible:

  • Mat says:

    Well Pakistani HQ says the Taliban are all gone. Hooboy, glad to hear that. Makes me feel so much better. I mean, it’s not like they’ve ever lied or exaggerated or anything like that. Have they?

  • JT says:

    Tanks are moving in to North Waziristan. Sounds like an operation might be imminent with possibly huge impact based on it being a Taliban/al Qaeda refuge until now left alone by Pakistan.\03\04\story_4-3-2010_pg1_1

  • Render says:

    Not much of a weapons haul shown in the videos released so far.
    Small arms, about half battered and badly worn out AK series rifles, the other half a mix of WW2 era Lee-Enfields and PPsH-41’s. A row of rifle caliber bullets. A single SPG-9 recoilless rifle. A row of 105mm tank ammo (both HE and AT) roughly equal to the load out of a single tank.
    One would think that the taking of a “major” terrorist base area with 150+ caves and rumored HVT’s would yield a bit more then the contents of a poorly run gun show.
    The Talib recovered as much or more from COP Keating then the Pakistani Army recovered from this “major” terrorist base.
    Neo is right (as usual), this is an improvement but they’ll be back.
    That’s why it’s a…

  • Rookie says:

    Footage of the said “150+” caves. The legend says “US troops in Pakistan discover…” which is inaccurate and even stupid, seeing the local sensitivities.
    No sign of heavy fighting, and hard to believe such a big complex was unknown to Pakistani army. A smart bomb inside such a complex and a 500+ Taliban deaths would be a sign that Pakistan means business.


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