Pakistani Army continues to boast of zero civilian casualties in North Waziristan operation

Click to view Pakistani military operations in North Waziristan in a larger map.

The Pakistani military continues to boast of a civilian-free air campaign in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

Since The Long War Journal reported on the Pakistani military’s claims that 257 “terrorists” and zero civilians were killed between June 15 and June 22, the military has issued two more press releases on its operations. Unsurprisingly, the military said an additional 45 “terrorists” have been killed in North Waziristan over the past two days and another 20 “terrorists” were killed in Khyber. But there have reportedly been zero civilian deaths in either tribal agency.

From the Inter-Services Public Relations press release on June 23:

8 x Terrorist’s hideouts around Mirali, North Waziristan Agency were destroyed by jet aircrafts early morning today. 15 x terrorists were killed in the strikes. Tunnels were spotted in the targeted areas.

While the operation ZARB -E AZB progresses as per plan, terrorists inside cordoned area are making desperate attempts to flee from the area .Several attempts by terrorists to flee from cordoned off area have been foiled. Today 10 x terrorists were killed while fleeing from the cordoned off area in Spinwam and Mirali. 2 x soldiers embraced shahadat in exchange of fire.

And, from the Inter-Services Public Relations press release on June 24:

27 x terrorists were killed in jet aircraft strikes in Mir Ali and surroundings areas this afternoon. 11 x Terrorist’s hideouts were destroyed. Huge cache or arms and ammunition was also destroyed.

20 x Terrorists were killed in early morning air strikes on terrorist’s hideouts in Khyber Agency. 12 x terrorist’s hideouts were destroyed.

So, if you are keeping count, that is 302 “terrorists,” “foreign and local terrorists,” “Uzbek foreigners,” “foreigners,” and “ETIM [Turkistan Islamic Party] terrorists,” and zero civilians killed since the military launched Zarb-e-Azb on June 15. If you are to believe the Pakistani military’s body count (and we don’t), this is a remarkable feat for a military that is known for the blunt application of force against its own population. Campaigns against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in Swat and Bajaur between 2007 and 2009 left thousands of civilians killed as the Pakistani military launched indiscriminate air and artillery strikes on population centers.

There is another aspect to this operation that must be pointed out. The Pakistani military said its plan in North Waziristan is to cordon off population centers and allow civilians to flee while launching airstrikes against said “terrorists” before moving in with ground forces to occupy the region. The Pakistani military did the exact same thing during its operations against the Mehsud tribal areas of South Waziristan back in 2009. All that did was allow leaders and key operatives from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and other jihadists in the area to escape while leaving behind a rear guard force to bleed the Pakistani military. No senior Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan leaders or operatives were killed or captured during the 2009 offensive.

For more information on Pakistan’s recent military operation in North Waziristan, see LWJ and Threat Matrix reports:

Pakistan launches ‘comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists’ in North Waziristan

Pakistani forces focus on ‘foreigners’ in North Waziristan operation

Pakistani military claims 257 ‘terrorists,’ no civilians killed in North Waziristan offensive

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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