Hakeemullah’s pullout from North Waziristan an ‘excuse’ for Pakistan not to move

Hakeemullah-Waliur-Rehman.jpg

Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman Mehsud, before the Pakistani Army launched the South Waziristan offensive.

The leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has agreed to withdraw his forces along with some allied Punjabi Taliban fighters from North Waziristan in an effort to prevent a Pakistani Army operation there.

Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban in South Waziristan, agreed to leave North Waziristan after conducting talks with Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the top Taliban leader in North Waziristan, according to a report in The News. US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said the report is accurate and noted the shift of Taliban fighters.

“Almost 98 per cent of the Mehsud militants along with some Punjabi Taliban have left North Waziristan,” a source close to Bahadar told The News. “Before leaving, announcements were made from loudspeakers in mosques of various villages by the Mehsud Taliban to thank the tribespeople of North Waziristan for their cooperation and assistance to the displaced Mehsud militants.”

Hakeemullah and Waliur’s forces are said to have returned to the Shaktoi and Makeen regions in South Waziristan, where the military has claimed it has ousted the Taliban after an operation last fall.

“Most of them went to Shaktoi and Makeen in South Waziristan where they had their sanctuaries in the forest-covered mountains,” a Taliban official told The News. “In summer, militants can easily survive in the mountains but the security forces might face tough resistance there.” The Taliban had previously promised to wage a guerrilla war in South Waziristan in the spring; however, the Taliban campaign never materialized.

Hakeemullah and Waliur’s forces have left North Waziristan just as the Pakistani government has come under pressure by the US and Western countries to invade the Taliban-controlled tribal agency. North Waziristan is the home to top al Qaeda leaders as well as Bahadar and the Haqqani Network. Both Taliban groups provide shelter to al Qaeda and other Pakistani jihadist groups, and allow them to operate training camps and conduct attacks into Afghanistan.

The US has traced multiple terror plots back to North Waziristan. The latest plot, the failed Times Square car bombing, was carried out by a Pakistani-American who trained with Hakeemullah’s forces in North Waziristan. Hakeemullah and his deputy Qari Hussain Mehsud released tapes on the Internet that confirmed their involvement in the failed attack.

Hakeemullah’s withdrawal from North Waziristan took place as the Pakistani government and military have pressured Bahadar to eject Hakeemullah and the Punjabi Taliban, which includes members and factions of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. The Pakistani government has rebuffed Western calls for an operation in North Waziristan, as so-called ‘good Taliban’ groups such as the Haqqani Network and Bahadar’s group are based there. The ‘good Taliban’ do not advocate attacks against the Pakistani state yet openly support the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

US military and intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said the withdrawal of Hakeemullah from North Waziristan is a ruse to keep the ‘good Taliban’ intact.

“This so-called pullout is just the excuse the Pakistanis needed to call off a North Waziristan operation,” a senior military intelligence official said. “The timing could not be any better for the Pakistani military, who clearly engineered this, could it?”

“Make no mistake, the Pakistani government will now say it doesn’t have a reason to go into North Waziristan, that Hakeemullah and all of the bad guys have now fled, and we can deal with the remaining Taliban,” a senior intelligence official said. “We’ve heard this all before, in past peace deals [in North and South Waziristan], when the tribes claimed they ejected al Qaeda. But they never did.”

According to another official, Bahadar’s request for Hakeemullah to leave North Waziristan is an admission that Bahadar never intended to honor a peace agreement with the Pakistani military that was signed just prior to the invasion of the Mehsud tribal areas last fall. In that agreement, Bahadar promised he would not shelter fighters and leaders from South Waziristan, and agreed to keep his fighters from attacking Pakistani military forces in North Waziristan.

“Yet again, the Pakistanis have agreed to a farcical peace agreement that no one believed would be honored by the Taliban,” observed a military intelligence official who closely tracks the region. “Bahadar gave safe haven to Hakeemullah and company, and the Pakistani military was attacked in North Waziristan. The military’s response was to ignore the violations, because in the end they didn’t care if the agreement was honored or not. They [the Pakistani Army] just want to stay out of North Waziristan.”

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

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10 Comments

  • Max says:

    Revelation 18:2 “And he cried mightily with a
    strong voice, saying, “Babylon the great has fallen, has fallen, and has become the habitation of demons, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird!”
    This passage is actually referring to another entity, not Pakistan, but the description is certainly appropriate.

  • Charu says:

    The Hamid Mir leaked phone transcript made it clear that the Pakistani army/ISI has close and frequent contacts with the Pakistani Taliban and various other actors in the Kabuki theater that they perform for the U.S.

  • Charley says:

    This is similar to the situation immediately post 9/11, with Hak substituted for UBL, “the government and military authorities had made it clear to Hafiz Gul Bahadur and his men to choose between the military operation or expulsion of Mahsud and Punjabi Taliban from North Waziristan.”

  • Neo says:

    Well Bill was right, the Pakistani government won’t be attacking Northern Waziristan at least not within the next few months and probably not this year. The lack of preparation for an offensive in Northern Waziristan was the dead giveaway on that.
    We need to remember that the Pakistani security apparatus is at best divided as to what to do about the Taliban. For now it looks like they are satisfied with going after factions of the Taliban that are a direct security threat to the Pakistani State. That means making a distinction between the bad Pakistani Taliban and the good Afghani Taliban.
    So the Pakistani government is trying real hard to force a distinction, and Bahadar feels he at least has to give it lip service. That might be some small measure of progress for the Pakistani’s. On a positive note this arrangement might allow the Pakistani’s to go after Hakeemullah’s forces without having to worry so much about the bulk of Taliban forces. The Pakistani’s will also avoid factional disagreements within the security apparatus if they limit themselves to fighting only the bad Taliban. One wouldn’t expect Bahadar to be an honest partner, but the Pakistani Army is in a much better bargaining position than it was a year ago. The tide seems to be going out this time around, rather then flooding its way in.
    Of course this arrangement doesn’t serve United States interests. The Afghani Taliban may even suffer setbacks from the current arrangement, but the United States has already set its draw down date. While Obama administrations draw down date for Afghanistan is hardly fixed in stone, I think the Pakistani’s know there will be a lot of pressure from sections of the United States electorate to force a draw down, irregardless of whether it serves United States security interests. We’re on the clock.

  • T Ruth says:

    MachiNation!
    ————————————–
    What will our next headlines read?
    “PAK AGREES WITH BURMA AND THAILAND TO RELOCATE ALL TALIBAN IN ORDER TO EMBRACE BUDDHISM”
    AND
    “PAK TO REMODEL ITSELF AROUND SWITZERLAND WILL BE TOP FINANCIAL CENTRE AND TOURIST DESTINATION IN ASIA BY JULY 2011.”
    OR
    “PAKISTAN SAYS ALL ITS MINARETS TO BE DISMANTLED AND SENT TO BHUTAN AND THE VATICAN TO BE REPROCESSED AS STEEPLES.”
    Any other offers?

  • Guptan Veemboor says:

    This just a ruse as given in the article. In all probability some secret agreement must have been reached between the Gul Bahdar and Haqqani group and the Pakistani military establishment to save the ‘good talibans’. Probably some token number of TTPs would have gone out and the bulk must be remaining in North Waziristan as now the Pak Military has its excuse not to attack its soul mates or valuable assets. Anyway it is good that US has not swallowed this Pakistani tactic and is well guarded against Pakaistani complicity.

  • Neo says:

    T Ruth – Don’t start getting too weird on us.

  • Mr T says:

    “PAKISTAN IS THE NEW MECCA”
    Come see our Hall of Jihad including such famous killers as Osama Bin Laden, Hakeemullah Mehsud and Maulvi Fazlauna. Pray in our Mosque of Death where non believers are beheaded for their apostasy. Why go to the deserts of Saudi Arabia when you can get all your praying done right here at home? Learn to fire an RPG or build your own homemade explosive. Got that itch to fire an Ak-47? We’ve got it all. Tour our nuclear site which we use to threaten the world until they accede to our demand of a global caliphate. Donations welcome.

  • T Ruth says:

    Neo, and you believe in freedom and free speech?!
    Btw who’s the ‘us’ you represent? Actually, don’t tell me.

  • Render says:

    T – Keep it together now. You’ve got smoke coming out of the engines there.
    MR.
    ROGGIO’S
    HOUSE,
    R

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