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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Retired Colonel Writes on Waziristan Op

Dawn has quite a good overview of his take on army strategy for this offensive which he decsribes as "The mother of all battles."

Retired Colonel Sayed Bokhari mentions the Uzbek element;

Figures vary, but it is estimated that Waziristan is home to more than 5,000 hardened militants besides some 2,000 Uzbek fighters. The total strength of the enemy in the area is said to be 10,000. The reported death of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) leader Tahir Yuldashev in a drone attack in South Waziristan in August was a big blow to the violent foreign militant group that was waging a fierce campaign against Pakistan and its state agencies.

Isolating Baitullah’s group from other militant organisations active in the area was an important strategic consideration and perhaps the government has managed to do that vis-à-vis the Maulvi Nazir group in the Wana area in South Waziristan and Hafiz Gul Bahadur in North Waziristan. Past events reveal that some militants of the Nazir group were killed by pro-Baitullah fighters inside Mehsud territory, resulting in a bitter feud between the two groups. Hence winning over the Nazir group would not have been too difficult.

Another commander, Misbahuddin, leads the anti-Baitullah group. This group has assisted the law-enforcement agencies in pointing out militants belonging to the Baitullah group even in Islamabad and Karachi. All this is of course countered by what the military will be up against. There are two major forces which are likely to support the Baitullah group against the army — the Haqqani network, which is mostly active in Afghanistan fighting Nato forces, and the IMU.

To take care of this contingency, additional troops are said to have been deployed to occupy the strategic heights along the Mehsud territory’s border with North Waziristan besides the sealing of four access points in the battle zone from Razmak-Makeen, Wana-Ludda, Jandola-Sararogha and Kanigoram-Jandola. The Shawal mountains would thus be the only escape route available to the militants, but would effectively prove a dangerous one for them because of air and ground firepower.

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