Aug 09 2008

Pakistan Targets Militants In Tribal Areas


For the rest of the month I would keep all eyes on Bajaur Agency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). That is the region that is supposedly one of the prime hideouts of al-Qaeda’s leadership and command central for militant operations in Afghanistan.  

I ran across a good review of the forces aligned against the world in Pakistan’s FATA and NWFP, the semi-lawless tribal areas that represent the world’s last large refuse for Islamo Fascists and seems to be housing the last remnants of that dying movement. Of course, this great review on our enemies comes from a far left media source, which tries to exaggerate our enemy and repeats, once more, the liberal left cries of pending defeat and quagmire. But regardless of the handwringing, the description of the enemy is fairly well done (except I wouldn’t buy into the bloated numbers):

The US-backed forces are at war with movements that are deeply embedded in the Pashtun population of the FATA and NWFP, and which can mobilise tens of thousands of armed men, including numerous veterans of the 1980s insurgency against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the subsequent civil war that led to the coming to power of the Taliban in 1996.

Baitullah Mehsud, a 35-year-old tribal chief who is accused of masterminding last year’s assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, controls large parts of the FATA agencies of South Waziristan and North Waziristan. His movement, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, has an armed force of 20,000 Pashtun tribal fighters.

Mehsud provides safe haven for Afghan Taliban warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani and thousands of guerillas. Islamic extremists from around the world—estimates range from 500 to 8,000—are also alleged to be in the Waziristans, fighting alongside Haqqani’s and Mehsud’s forces. The FATA agencies are the most likely location of Osama bin Laden and those Al Qaeda fighters who survived the US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. Since 2004, hundreds of Pakistani troops have been killed in a series of failed offensive to bring the area under government control.

The Khyber FATA agency, which covers the major roads linking Pakistan and Afghanistan, is controlled by radical Islamist Mangal Bagh, who heads a movement known as Lashkar-e-Islam or the Army of Islam. Earlier this year, Bagh claimed that he could mobilise 180,000 fighters. While the true number is far less, militants loyal to Bagh have been able to seize control of entire areas of the adjoining NWFP over recent months. In June and July, Pakistani troops had to wage fierce battles to dislodge Bagh’s forces from positions they had occupied near the provincial capital of Peshawar.

The Mohmand FATA agency is ruled by tribal powerbroker Maulvi Omar Khalid, who reportedly operates his own courts and prisons. His forces have engaged in armed clashes with supporters of Mehsud but are also believed to render assistance to Afghan insurgents.

The Bajour FATA agency is the stronghold of Pakistani Islamist Maulvi Omar, who allegedly provides safe haven for the guerillas fighting for Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Omar threatened last month to wage war on the Pakistani government if it did not call off its military operations against Fazlullah’s TNSM in the Swat Valley. Guerillas operating out of Bajour are believed to have conducted the July assault on the US base in the Afghan village of Wanat, in which nine American soldiers were killed and 25 wounded.

It seems right now the main focus is on Bajaur, as noted by The Long War Journal:

The Pakistani military claimed 70 Taliban fighters were killed and 60 were wounded during the latest round of fighting in the lawless tribal agency of Bajaur.

The Bajaur tribal agency is al Qaeda’s command and control hub for operations across the border in northeastern Afghanistan. Bajaur is run by Faqir Mohammed, who assumed control of the radical Tehrik Nifaz-e-Sharia Mohammadi (the TNSM, or the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law) after the arrest of Sufi Mohammed.

The TNSM is known as the “Pakistani Taliban” and is the group behind the ideological inspiration for the Afghan Taliban. The TNSM sent over 10,000 fighters into Afghanistan to fight US forces during the opening stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in late 2001 and 2002. 

While the numbers may sound impressive (and arguably bloated) they are not a strong fighting force.  They have no heavy armor, antiquated artillery if any, no fighter jets, bombers or attack helicopters.  They are your classic cannon fodder.  The only reason they are even holding on has been the resistance by the Pakistan government to take action. Now the opposition to Musharraf is taking stronger action than Musharraf ever dared. Maybe there is a quid pro quo here. Maybe the US and Musharraf will not resist Musharraf’s impeachment if the Pak governing coalition finally wipe out the Islamo Fascists in FATA and the NWFP.  

Not a bad deal if it requires irrefutable evidence that certain people are dead. Captured is fine, but we need to know certain targets have been eliminated before we start pulling back.  And as always, peace between Pakistan, Afghanistan and India is mandatory as well.

I actually don’t think there is a deal. I think after months of the Islamo Fascists trying to start a war between Pakistan, Afghanistan and India (two of which are nuclear powers) the Pak government finally realized they were doomed unless they acted now. Either way, I would watch the news out of Bajaur with a keen eye for a few more weeks.

Update:  Meant to include this breaking news to illustrate how badly outmatched these ragtag militants truly are:

At least 37 people, including 30 militants and seven security personnel, were killed and several others injured in continued clashes between the security forces and the militants in the troubled Bajaur Agency on Friday. 

Also, the militants were reported to have suffered heavy losses when jet fighters blitzed their alleged training camps and suspected locations at Loisam, Charmang, Banda, Tangi and Inzaray villages. 

An official of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) told that troops continued targeting militants’ training camps and locations in Loisam and Charmang and inflicted heavy losses on what he called ‘miscreants’. 

Now that it has begun it may not take long to hammer these forces into manageable sizes. And it will be truly interesting to see what this flushes out of the ground.  And this news is all good:

Senior intelligence and military aides want President Bush to give American soldiers greater flexibility to operate against militants who cross the border from Pakistan to conduct attacks inside Afghanistan, officials say.

The plan could include sending US special forces teams into the Tribal Areas to hit high-value targets, said an intelligence official.

Senior members of Bush’s national security team met last week to discuss the recommendations and are now weighing how to proceed, the officials said.

Let them hunt our enemies.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Pakistan Targets Militants In Tribal Areas”

  1. kathie says:

    We are watching the news AJ, that’s why we click on your blog.

  2. […] was only three days ago that I posted all eyes should be on Bajaur Agency, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan […]