Pakistan is not conducting ‘surgical’ raids in North Waziristan

Buried at the end of this Wall Street Journal article on Admiral Mike Mullen’s infatuation with Pakistan (a topic worthy of a book in itself), are these two completely false paragraphs that claim Pakistan is conducting covert operations against al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Haqqani Network based in North Waziristan:

Pakistan currently conducts “surgical” raids against militants in North Waziristan-home to the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network-but has said a large-scale operation to clear the area of all military would threaten Islamabad’s ability to keep militants out of other areas it cleared previously.

Islamabad is willing to step up their surgical raids in North Waziristan if the U.S. provides them with more information about the location of militants they want removed, a senior Pakistan official said this week.

There is absolutely not one shred of evidence to back this up. None. Pakistani forces have not killed a single leader or senior operative of al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Group, the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party, the Lashklar-e-Jhangvi, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, the Fedayeen-i-Islam, etc., based in North Waziristan. The only “surgical raids” being carried out in North Waziristan are done by the unmanned US Predators and Reapers.

In the interview, Admiral Mullen describes Pakistan’s counterinsurgency efforts against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Swat and South Waziristan as “heroic.” Yet there is nothing remotely heroic in Pakistani officials making false claims about Pakistan’s efforts to take on terrorist sanctuaries in North Waziristan. In the ranks of the US military, there is a term for those who pump up their exploits at the expense of those fighting alongside them: blue falcon.

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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  • Civy says:

    Thanks for calling an audible on this Bill. It’s idiot drivel like this that ends up passing for fact if someone knowledgeable doesn’t out it as BS.

  • paul says:

    Too many assets in North Waziristan for Pakistan to act.

  • Charu says:

    Great post! Hope that it gets some traction in reversing the misleading statements regarding Pakistan’s role. What is with US military brass and their deep abiding fondness for their lying, cheating, duplicitous Pakistani counterparts? Chuck Yeager, Colin Powell, Anthony Zinni, and now Mike Mullen!

  • ramgun says:

    The question is: why is Adm Mullen doing this?
    1. He genuinely believes Pak are doing the best they can. Given that he is so close to the fog of war, its difficult to believe that he can get it entirely wrong
    2. He is praising Pak for the benefit of Pak media and Pak population. In which case, he should continue. There is no point trying to ‘expose’ him. If anything, it should be the Taliban machinery trying to expose him to show that Pak is indeed killing people in its own lands
    3. He is doing this to keep Mr Obama’s standing high. This looks unlikely. If anything, it would be the civilian leadership that plays the good cop, while military men play the hawk.
    I believe explanation 2 sounds most plausible, so no point other Western commentators trying to ‘call his bluff’

  • blert says:

    It’s the world’s worst kept secret: Adm Mullen does NOT want to expand hostilities.
    Looking at the strategic picture — I agree with him.
    The Resident is anti-logical and NOT any kind of FDR/Truman.
    More towards Kennedy/Johnson/Carter, he is.
    So, Adm Mullen is tamping things down.
    He had the same disposition WRT Red China.
    Adm Mullen is trying to keep things on the back burner: an honest exposure of Islamabad would head in directions we don’t want to go.
    While it is irritating to lose Americans to the Taliban in dribs and drabs — the alternative is to lose them by the hunk and the bunch in a heavy campaign.
    Further, the logistics indicate that we are already fully engaged. Unless you propose an atomic face down against a cornered crime syndicate as your next move — breaking their toys and crippling their morale will have to do.
    We’re going to have to settle for bleeding these skirmishers white without losing our cool.

  • Ben says:

    Pakistan has already made immense sacrifices for American War on Terror. All these sacrifices have gone un-acknowledged. When Pakistan is already consolidating its gains in the south Waziristan Agency, it would be crazy to enter troops in the North Waziristan Agency. USA has tried all the tactics including arm-twisting, Pakistan should decide keeping in view its own, and not America’s, vital interests. Unfortunately interests of both countries do not seem to converge. Read more at:

  • Victrola says:

    Re: Ben —‘Consolidating gains made in South Waziristan..’ Are you kidding me? What gains? As far as I can see, the Pakistani Army moves with the lightning speed of a glacier behind a curtain of artillery and air strikes. I suppose moving the rubble aside technically qualifies as ‘consolidating gains’. What a joke. You are correct in one observation, however: the strategic concerns of the U.S. and Pakistan do not intersect in any way, shape or form. The strategic concerns of the U.S. and India DO overlap in certain areas.

  • Bungo says:

    blert said : “Adm Mullen is trying to keep things on the back burner: an honest exposure of Islamabad would head in directions we don’t want to go.”
    Unfortunately, in the pragmatic world in which we have to negotiate, this is the current situation. For financial, logistical, domestic and geo political reasons Western forces will not/cannot “invade” N. Waziristan/Pakistan. For the time being we are going to have to settle for a strategy of Containment and all of the “stand off” tactical actions currently being employed. For now anyway.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    It’s not just Mullen who has taken this approach regarding Pakistan. At various times Gates, Petraeus, Conway, McChrystal, Mattis and the guys who command Regional Command East and South praised the investment that Pakistan has made in blood and treasure fighting the insurgency in the Agencies.

  • Vidyut says:

    The real piece of investigative journalism will be in solving the mystery of why America is willing to go to these extents to protect Pak while they didn’t even give Afganistan the option to turn OBL in. I mean US time, money, lives, resources, values, human rights, economy, respect… everything has been squandered and prostituted in degrees in this visibly futile game of carrot and stick, only that the donkey goes where it likes, munches carrots all the way and kicks at the stick, while the owner stays hungry to buy carrots and hits himself with the stick. The US is no more or less safe than it was in 2001. Proof comes out of the woodwork of ISI and Army double games. So why is it that something evident to a snot nosed kid on the streets of Islamabad is incomprehensible to the mightiest nation on the planet? Or, assuming that they know what they are doing, what is the need? I have stopped believing that it is about nuclear weapons at all.

  • JT says:

    I suppose that the Pakistani involvement in “surgical strikes” could simply be a small amount of intel provided in support of some of the drone strikes.
    It is an exaggeration, but maybe not technically incorrect. It is politics driving the statements, after all.


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