North Waziristan – The Death Trap

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North Waziristan – The Death Trap

Postby Spearhead Research » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:03 pm

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North Waziristan – The Death Trap


Stirring the ‘hornet’s nest’ of militant safe havens and extremism activity in this frontier region may exacerbate the currently tenuous security situation in Pakistan. It is important to study the history of the Waziristans, and the political/social/economic development of North Waziristan (as well as FATA) after independence in 1947. The root causes of terrorism and extremism is not the conservative ethos and religious faith of the tribal folk, but poverty and lack of opportunities and social safety nets. The War on Terror as it has been fought in Afghanistan has gradually spilled over into Pakistan’s tribal areas – and later, into its urban cities and settled districts. It is also important to analyze Pakistan’s COIN strategy and its critical successes and failures to suggest possible modifications that may enable not just Pakistan, but also the United States, to achieve common goals and objectives in this bloody and relentless war.


Author: Spearhead Research Analysis - 29.12.2010

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Building a network to hit militants

Postby shemrez » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:10 pm

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Building a network to hit militants

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The military targeting center aims to speed the sharing of information and shorten the time between targeting and military action. –Photo by AFP

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration has ramped up its secret war on terror groups with a new military targeting center to oversee the growing use of special operations strikes against suspected militants in hot spots around the world, according to current and former US officials.

Run by the US Joint Special Operations Command, the new center would be a significant step in streamlining targeting operations previously scattered among US and battlefields abroad and giving elite military officials closer access to Washington decision-makers and counterterror experts, the officials said exclusively to AP.

The center aims to speed the sharing of information and shorten the time between targeting and military action, said two current and two former US officials briefed on the project. Those officials and others insisted on condition of anonymity to discuss the classified matters.

The creation of the center comes as part of the administration’s increasing reliance on clandestine and covert action to hunt terror suspects as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have tested the country’s patience and pocketbook. The White House has more than doubled the numbers of special operations forces in Afghanistan alone, as well as doubling the CIA’s use of missile strikes from unmanned drones in Pakistan and expanding counterterror operations in Yemen.

JSOC’s decision-making process in counterterror operations had previously been spread between special operations officials at Pope Air Force base in North Carolina, top officials at the Pentagon and commanders on the battlefield.

Now located at a classified address a short drive from the Pentagon, the center is staffed with at least 100 counterterror experts fusing the military’s special operations elite with analysts, intelligence and law enforcement officials from the FBI, Homeland Security and other agencies, the US officials said.

The new center is similar in concept to the civilian National Counterterrorism Center, which was developed in 2004 as a wide-scope defensive bulwark in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to share intelligence and track terrorist threats.

But the new military center focuses instead on the offensive end of counterterrorism, tracking and targeting terrorist threats that have surfaced in recent years from Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia and other hot zones. Its targeting advice will largely direct elite special operations forces in both commando raids and missile strikes overseas.

The data also could be used at times to advise domestic law enforcement in dealing with suspected terrorists inside the US, the officials said. But the civilian authorities would have no role in ‘‘kill or capture’’ operations targeting militant suspects abroad.

The center is similar to several other so-called military intelligence ‘‘fusion’’ centers already operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those installations were designed to put special operations officials in the same room with intelligence professionals and analysts, allowing US forces to shave the time between finding and tracking a target, and deciding how to respond.

At the heart of the new center’s analysis is a cloud-computing network tied into all elements of US national security, from the eavesdropping capabilities of the National Security Agency to Homeland Security’s border-monitoring databases. The computer is designed to sift through masses of information to track militant suspects across the globe, said two US officials familiar with the system.

Several military officials said the center is the brainchild of JSOC’s current commander, Vice Adm. Bill McRaven, who patterned it on the success of a military system called ‘‘counter-network,’’ which uses drone, satellite and human intelligence to drive operations on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While directly run by JSOC, the center’s staff is overseen by the Pentagon, while congressional committees have been briefed on its operations, officials said.

Locating the center in Washington has the advantage of tying in special operations forces officials to the NSA’s electronic data and to the White House’s decision-making arm, the National Security Council, said Brookings Institute’s Michael O’Hanlon. ‘‘There’s ready access to the NSC for face to face decision-making,’’ he said.

O’Hanlon, who specializes in national security and defense policy, predicts positive US public reaction to the military’s expanding use of special operations forces in counterterrorism strategy. ‘‘After spending a trillion dollars on two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, with so far questionable result, people will say, heck yeah. This is the only tool of foreign policy where we can see immediate, positive results,’’ he said.

Officials said Afghanistan has been a proving ground for both the military’s growing use of special operations forces in raids against militants and in honing its ‘‘counter-network’’ system.

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US to send 1,400 additional marines to Afghanistan

Postby Fatima Rizvi » Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:19 am

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US to send 1,400 additional marines to Afghanistan

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Additional marines are scheduled to leave for Afghanistan within the next several weeks

The US is to send an additional 1,400 marines to southern Afghanistan in an effort to counter a Taliban offensive, a Pentagon official has said.

The marines are now being notified of the deployment and are scheduled to leave within several weeks, the defence department said.

The US hopes to "apply pressure on the enemy during the winter", a department spokesman said.

The US plans to begin withdrawing troops from the country in July.

Defence secretary Robert Gates had "approved additional marine forces to southern Afghanistan to exploit and consolidate gains already achieved and apply pressure on the enemy during the winter campaign", Defence Department spokesman Col Dave Lapan said.

The contingent could start arriving within weeks and is expected to be on the ground for a short mission of about 90 days.

'Fragile and reversible'
President Barack Obama approved a troop surge of 30,000 troops roughly one year ago. But the president gave Mr Gates leeway to add an extra 3,000 forces, if necessary.

There are currently about 97,000 US troops in Afghanistan, along with 45,000 forces from other countries, and officials said the new marines would not put the total number of US forces above the limit of 100,000 authorized by President Obama.

Following the publication of the US annual strategy review last month, Mr Obama said the US was "on track" to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.

The review stated that the US had made enough progress to start a "responsible reduction" of forces in July 2011.

But it says the gains made against the Taliban by a US troop surge remain "fragile and reversible".

The US plans to end combat operations in 2014 and transfer responsibility for the country's affairs to Afghans.

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Biden to persuade army to launch offensive in N Waziristan

Postby Spearhead Research » Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:20 pm

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Sending a message: Biden to persuade army to launch offensive in N Waziristan

US Vice President Joe Biden is arriving in the capital this week on a visit that apparently seeks to shore up the beleaguered civilian government and persuade the military to launch an offensive in North Waziristan, said diplomatic and official sources.

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The US vice president will hold talks with top political, military leadership. PHOTO: EPA

Biden will hold detailed discussions with Pakistan’s top political and military leadership on a wide-range of issues including efforts to seek an end to the nine-year old war in Afghanistan.

“Biden is expected to arrive in Islamabad on Tuesday evening,” said a Foreign Office official.

“The US vice president will meet President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and the Army chief Gen Kayani,” added the official. Another source said Biden is coming to Pakistan in a bid to send a clear message to certain quarters in the country that the Obama administration supports the political and democratic process.

“The Obama administration was certainly concerned about the political uncertainty in Pakistan,” remarked an American diplomat, adding that internal political wrangling could divert attention from the war on terror.

“The government has now won back the majority after briefly losing it and I am sure the vice president will be discussing all these issues with the Pakistani leadership,” said the diplomat, who requested not to be named.

The operation against the Haqqani Network, believed to be based in North Waziristan, will also come up for discussions.

Diplomatic sources say Biden will convince Pakistan to conduct if not full-fledged then a limited or surgical operation in North Waziristan.

In return, the source added, the US will announce additional economic and military assistance for Pakistan.

Despite intense US pressure, Pakistan has made clear that it will alone decide the timing of the military offensive. “The US understands that we cannot open too many fronts at this stage,” said a security official.

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N Waziristan offensive put on hold for indefinite period

Postby Spearhead Research » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:30 am

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N Waziristan offensive put on hold for indefinite period

Qaiser Butt

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Full-scale military offensive against Haqqani network in NWA postponed; drone attacks to continue to target militants.

Pakistan has postponed for an indefinite period a full-scale military offensive against the Haqqani network in the North Waziristan tribal region because of the freezing winter, which normally lasts more than six months in these parts, The Express Tribune has learnt on authority.

In the meantime, US pilot-less aircraft will continue to target Taliban ‘sanctuaries’ in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the tribal belt as the only available options to weaken the insurgents, a source told The Express Tribune.

This is notwithstanding Pakistan’s official position that US drone attacks are an infringement on its sovereignty and stoke anti-Americanism in the country due to increasing civilian casualties.

North Waziristan’s terrain is extremely difficult from a logistic point of view. Analysts say it is one of the main reasons for Pakistan Army’s reluctance to go after the Haqqani network. Moreover, the Obama administration has not provided the special equipment the Pakistan Army needs for such an operation.

Interestingly, most of the US aid provided to Pakistan’s armed forces is in the shape of “work services”, such as overhauling of transport and helicopter gunships.

Recently US contractors overhauled a number of helicopters at a cost three times higher than what is normally charged, the source said. And the overhauling was of poor quality and the helicopters had to be grounded again for maintenance.

“Taking the ongoing war in the tribal areas and other regions to its logical conclusion is the first and foremost priority for the Pakistan Army,” another source told The Express Tribune.

Pakistan has been under pressure from the US for launching a full scale offensive in North Waziristan. The Foreign Office, however, has denied any US pressure. It says the operation will be launched only if it is in the interest of Pakistan.

David Ignatius, a Washington Post associate editor, quoted a senior US military official in Islamabad as telling him that the US debate about Pakistan was becoming “hyper-focused” on a demand that Pakistan Army attack North Waziristan.

The official told Ignatius that he believed Pakistan was incapable of meeting this demand because its forces were “stretched too thin”.
“The harder Washington pushes for a crackdown, the more Islamabad seems to resist. And the explanation is simple. The two countries’ interests differ on this one: America, with its forces exposed in Afghanistan, wants action now. Pakistan, facing a nationwide campaign of terrorism, wants to concentrate on its internal threat,” Ignatius said.

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Counterinsurgency Strategy Not Working in Afghanistan

Postby shemrez » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:27 pm

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Counterinsurgency Strategy Not Working in Afghanistan, Critics Say

DAVID WOOD
Chief Military Correspondent

The counterinsurgency strategy the United States has relied on to win the Afghan war is producing disappointing progress at best and, at worst, is wasting billions of dollars and prolonging the nine-year war, according to a wide range of informed critics.

Experts on Afghanistan and on counterinsurgency, among them active-duty and retired military officers, analysts and academics, are pushing to have the U.S. mission in Afghanistan significantly narrowed in scope.

Their message, in brief: Drop the hearts 'n' minds stuff. Go kill the enemy.

It's increasingly clear to the critics, at least, that the enemy is not the Taliban, the local Afghan insurgents. It is, rather, the remnants of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan who continue to plot against the United States.

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Sending American soldiers and Marines headlong against Afghanistan's "inadequate governance, corruption, and abuse of power,'' as the most recent guidance of Gen. David Petraeus demands, is too broad, too costly and potentially self-defeating, many critics say.

"Most people in and around policy-making circles agree that the U.S. and NATO missions in Afghanistan should transition away from counterinsurgency and toward a strategy combining counter-terror activities with a train-and-equip mission,'' Andrew M. Exum, a former Army officer and adviser to Petraeus, wrote this week in his counterinsurgency blog.

C. Christine Fair, a regional expert and Georgetown University professor, writes that "General David Petraeus' COIN doctrine simply may not apply to Afghanistan.

Whether their suggestions will have any impact is unclear. "People are so set on the current strategy that they become bothered and angry by a serious questioning,'' said a vociferous critic, Army Col. Gian P. Gentile, director of military history at West Point and a two-tour combat veteran of Iraq.

"There are alternatives'' to the current strategy, Gentile said in an interview. "But they are hard to articulate with an Army and senior leaders who've been doing this for nine years and are morally committed to it because we've shed blood and they believe they can make it work.''

With the Obama administration's war strategy being questioned, Vice President Joe Biden (who has advocated abandoning counterinsurgency and focusing only on killing al-Qaeda terrorists) flew into Kabul Monday to confer with Petraeus, commander of U.S. and allied forces, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"This is a pivot point in our policy,'' an unnamed senior official confided to reporters aboard Biden's plane en route to Afghanistan Monday. On Tuesday, Biden issued a statement seeming to back away from a full-fledged counterinsurgency strategy. "It is not our intention to govern or nation-build,'' he said. "This is the responsibility of the Afghan government and they are fully capable of it.''

Petraeus, co-author of the 2006 military manual on counterinsurgency, often puts a forward spin on the war, saying that the U.S.-led coalition finally has "all the inputs right,'' meaning he has enough troops (97,000 U.S. and 40,000 European and others), enough civilian advisers and trainers, and the right strategy, to win.

But he and the Obama administration, in what seemed a tacit acknowledgment of slow progress, last November agreed to extend the U.S. and NATO commitment for another four years, through the end of 2014. Previously, Obama had said flatly that in July of this year, "our troops will begin to come home.''

One disconcerting sign of the lack of progress is that tips from the Afghan public about newly emplaced IEDs -- a key indicator of how safe people feel from Taliban retribution -- have declined. According to data released by the Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization, the number of IEDs turned in each month fell from 34 in January 2010 to 12 in May, while U.S. and allied casualties (killed and wounded) by IEDs rose from 174 in January to 284 in May.

Another indication of what's going wrong comes in a recent chilling series in the British newspaper the Guardian. Reporter Gaith Abdul-Ahad talked with key Taliban leaders, including an elderly mid-level Taliban administrator in the eastern city of Khost. He explained a key reason why the U.S. strategy of protecting the people against the Taliban isn't working.

"The government is besieged in its fortresses and can't come to the people, and corruption is paralyzing it,'' the elder told the Guardian. "One of the main reasons for our popularity is the failure of this government." The Taliban official explained that he supervises local governing councils set up by the Taliban in "liberated'' areas.

"I am a representative of the movement and I walk among the people and everyone knows me,'' the elderly Taliban said. "I move between the people and the commanders, watching the commanders' behavior. I listen to the people and convey the picture to the supreme leaders," he said.

At home, the strategy debate rumbling across Washington hinges on a critical but unresolved question: When fighting a guerrilla force entrenched within the population, do you win by defeating the bad guys militarily -- killing or capturing their leaders, cutting their supply lines and offering the survivors a safe return to society? Or do you push them away from the population and, by providing security, good government services, education and economic progress, win the population over to the government's side?

Since the U.S. attacked and overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan in late 2001, its strategy has wandered back and forth. Lt. Gen. David Barno, who led U.S. forces there from 2003 to 2005, quickly discovered that sending troops out into the countryside on raids wasn't working. "It was putting your fist into a bucket of water and taking it back out again, with very little to no impact on the enemy,'' Barno said in an interview.

Instead, he sent his battalions out to live in critical areas, seeking out and working with local leaders and enabling the first national elections to take place in 2004. (In another depressing sign, more people took part in that election six years ago than in any since.) Barno tripled the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams, from four to 12, to spur economic development and local government.

But that effort to win over the local population didn't continue after Barno left, especially after NATO took over in 2007.

He acknowledged, however, that the promise of "hearts and minds'' counterinsurgency -- that the Americans can bring to local people a dramatically better way of life -- has turned out to be misleading. For many Afghans, life has improved since 2001: More children are in school and security in many areas has tightened. But it is also true that the expectations of most Afghans were "grossly inflated'' when American troops arrived, Barno said. Over the nine years that have followed, the reality of what the United States has delivered "has fallen short,'' he said.

That's the chief problem with the U.S. strategy, according to Amitai Etzione, professor at George Washington University in Washington. By pursuing "in effect a do-over of the social, economic, cultural and political foundations'' of Afghanistan, "one invited failure by setting goals that cannot be reached and by raising expectations that are bound to be disappointed,'' he wrote this month in Joint Forces Quarterly, a professional journal published by the National Defense University.

Among the inherent promises of counterinsurgency that are unrealistic or counterproductive, in the view of Etzione and others: building a strong, secular, democratic and effective central government, cleaning up official corruption, establishing women's rights, creating a Western-style Afghan army, and holding democratic elections as a panacea to Afghanistan's problems.

Building schools for girls, for example, reflects American values -- but alienates large sections of Afghanistan's Pashtun population from which the Taliban insurgency springs.

Expanding, training and equipping the Afghan army make sense, Etzione writes. But requiring Afghan soldiers to carry the American M-16 rifle makes no sense: the Russian-designed Kalashnikov is superior in the local heat and dust, and is familiar and simple enough for new soldiers to use.

Elections, a key part of the U.S. effort, have been divisive occasions, seeming to unite Afghans only in their belief that the process was deeply corrupt. Straining to produce a strong, secular central government makes little sense in a land of strong belief that Islam should govern daily life, and that the best government is local government.

Counterinsurgency is called for in Afghanistan, Etzione concludes. "But if COIN is to work, it must be profoundly recast.'' For a start, he writes, "We should leave the local people to work out what they will tolerate and what they will balk at.''

Two recent studies suggest a different way forward. The Center for a New American Security, a centrist Washington think tank, recommends shifting decisively away from the current large-scale counterinsurgency campaign to focus the military effort on al-Qaeda. Fighting the Taliban should be increasingly a job for the Afghan army and police. U.S. and allied forces could be cut substantially to between 25,000 and 35,000, the CNAS report said.

And the United States should refocus its efforts on helping build local government -- not the central government.

A similar study published this week jointly by the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War also calls for a refocus on local, not national, government and security forces. The report, co-authored by Fred and Kimberly Kagan, acknowledges that achieving a better balance of power between Kabul and local towns and districts is critical. But that "will be very difficult and it may prove impossible,'' they conclude.

The CNAS report, written by Barno and Exum, also ends on a grim note: "After nine years of inconclusive fighting,'' they write, "all outcomes are likely to be suboptimal for the United States, its allies and the Afghan people.''

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US tones down demand for Waziristan offensive

Postby Spearhead Research » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:07 am

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Biden’s Pakistan trip: US tones down demand for Waziristan offensive

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States have covered ‘significant ground’ to iron out their differences for Afghanistan’s future after Washington apparently toned down its demand for a full-scale military offensive in the North Waziristan tribal region.

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US Vice President Joe Biden talks to President Asif Ali Zardari at the President House in Islamabad.

A meeting between US Vice President Joe Biden and Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was described by a senior security official as “very positive and constructive.”

“Both countries have narrowed down their differences on certain issues that haunted them in the past,” the official told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.

Biden, on a daylong trip to Islamabad, held talks with top political and military leadership. Earlier, he toured Afghanistan to reassure that the US forces will remain in the war-torn country beyond the 2014 pullout deadline, if Kabul wants them to.

His visit came as the war in Afghanistan enters a decisive phase and the Obama administration is pushing Pakistan to do more to eliminate al Qaeda ‘safe havens’ from the tribal belt.

“The Americans now understand our position on North Waziristan – they are no longer pushing us,” the security official said, adding that Biden had offered additional economic and military assistance to Pakistan.

“The meeting between Kayani and Biden was very fruitful,” said another military official privy to the matter.

A statement issued by the Inter-Service Public Relations said little about the meeting between the vice president and the army chief. “The visiting dignitary remained with him for some time and discussed matters of mutual interest,” said the brief statement. The US embassy spokesperson also declined to comment.

Earlier, at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Biden attempted to dispel misperceptions in Pakistan about America’s role in the region.

“There are some sections in Pakistani society that suggest America disrespects Islam and its followers,” Biden told reporters. “We are not the enemies of Islam and we embrace those who practice this great religion in our country,” said Biden, adding that Pakistan and the US were facing a common enemy, ie the militancy threat to both the countries.

“They (al Qaeda) continue to plot attacks against the United States and our interests to this very day,” he insisted.

Terming his discussions with the Pakistani leadership as ‘extremely useful,’ Biden underlined the need for a strong partnership between Pakistan and the US.

“A close partnership between Pakistan and its people is in the vital self-interest of the United States and, I would argue, in the vital self-interest of Pakistan as well,” Biden said.

“We know that there are those – I am not talking about leadership, I am talking about the public discourse – (who believe) that in America’s fight against al Qaeda, we’ve imposed a war upon Pakistan,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, Premier Gilani said high-level consultations between the two countries were necessary to attain “our shared goals.” The prime minister informed Biden about his recent meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and said Pakistan will continue to pursue its policy of non-intervention and of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. He added that Pakistan hopes “there will be no new great game” pertaining to Afghanistan and said that it does not expect any country to indulge in any proxy war or measures that have an impact on Pakistan or Afghanistan’s sovereignty. Gilani also rejected the US assertion that certain elements were operating from areas along the Pak-Afghan border.

In his meeting with Biden, President Asif Ali Zardari called for a close, stable, long-term and broad-based relationship between Pakistan and the United States for promoting peace, stability and progress in the region and beyond.

He also said that Pakistan was committed to fight terrorism and underlined the need for support and understanding of the international community in this effort.

Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar quoted the president as saying that drone attacks undermined the national consensus against the war on militancy, adding that the president reiterated Pakistan’s call for transfer of drone technology for use by its own security forces against the militants.

Zardari also sought increased market access to the US and called upon them to create a special category for conflict-affected countries under its GSP Plus programme.

Appreciating Pakistan’s fight against militants, Biden reiterated US support to Pakistan, assuring that the new US administration would support Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen democracy, countering terrorism and in meeting its developmental needs and capacity building.

While condemning Salmaan Taseer’s assassination, Biden said the United States was “saddened by the cold-blooded murder of a decent, brave man.” “The governor was killed simply because he was a voice of tolerance and understanding,” he said.

Earlier, Biden telephoned Amna Taseer, the widow of the slain governor, to express his condolences on behalf of the president and the American people.

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Operation North Waziristan: Delayed but not abandoned

Postby Ahsan Waheed » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:55 am

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Operation North Waziristan: Delayed but not abandoned
Posted on 06. Jun, 2010

By Brig Asif Haroon Raja

In the wake of weak governance, rampant corruption, weak economy, messy political situation and growing incidence of terrorism, Pakistan is being described as a failed state incapable of protecting the nukes. Western and Indian media publish stories based on half-truths and lies regularly to create an impression that everything is topsy-turvy in Pakistan and its fragmentation under the burgeoning weight of problems is a forgone conclusion. The world has been conditioned through an orchestrated media campaign that Pakistan is the epicenter of terrorism, FATA the most dangerous place on earth, Afghan Taliban Shura is housed in Balochistan and Al-Qaeda leadership in FATA, segments of Pak Army and ISI are in cahoots with Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda, ISI is the chief sponsor of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Pak nukes are unsafe and vulnerable to theft by militants, Pak nuclear facilities have become vulnerable to sympathizers of religious extremists working in atomic plants.

Fresh allegations are arbitrarily added to the lengthy concocted list at the cost of ignoring real challenges. Hillary Clinton has further upped the ante by saying that some elements in Pak Army have all along known the whereabouts of Osama and Omar. During her last visit to Pakistan she had stated that Al-Qaeda leadership had shifted to FATA in 2002 and it was inconceivable that Pakistan didn’t know about it.

If true, why the US kept quiet about it for so long and why it has been stating all these years that Osama is probably somewhere along the region of Pak-Afghan border belt? FATA was penetrated by CIA and FBI agents in 2002 and later by RAW agents; umpteen numbers of outposts were established. Spy drones had started surveying the area from 2004 onwards and after sometime Blackwater also became operative. FATA was put under microscopic scrutiny of satellites and imagery. Massive hunt had been launched by multiple intelligence agencies all along the border belt to hunt Osama. Al-Qaeda operatives and anti-US elements in Waziristan are being targeted by drones based on intelligence provided by their own sources. So how come, Osama allegedly residing in FATA could not be located by USA for all these years? The only possibilities are that either the most wanted man was dead and kept alive out of expediency, or was in the basement of Whitehouse for George Bush’s convinience; was being used to keep Pakistan on the leash and to justify its continued stay in Afghanistan, or US intelligence agencies are inept.

Going by the logic of Hillary Clinton that it is difficult to believe that Pakistan military leadership didn’t know the existence of Al-Qaeda leadership in FATA since 2002, how should Pakistanis get convinced that RAW is undertaking covert operations from Afghan soil without the knowledge of USA. Why should we accept the tainted logic of USA that India is no threat to Pakistan when over 70% of Indian military might is poised against Pakistan and both civil and military leaders do not miss an opportunity to hurl threatening statements? Is it not true that TTP was CIA’s creation and is being fed by CIA, RAW, RAAM and Mossad from Kandahar-Jalalabad?

It will be recalled that once Pak Army gained complete success in Swat and was busy consolidating its gains, intense pressure was applied on Pakistan to start another operation in South Waziristan (SW). No sooner operation Rah-e-Nijat was launched in SW; ISAF promptly removed all its border check posts to allow safe movement to Afghan Taliban across the border. When the latter didn’t come to the rescue of Mehsuds it caused immense frustration to the plot makers.

Soon after successful operation in SW launched in October last, drummed up as mother of all battles and main bastion of militants, the US lost interest in that region and started focusing on North Waziristan (NW). Intense pressure was mounted on Pakistan to launch another major operation in NW but it was warded off by Gen Kayani on the plea that his forces had already got overstretched and had employed 150000 troops in Malakand Division, Swat, and several tribal agencies of FATA at the peril of lowering combat strength on eastern border.

It was argued that unless gains made in Swat and SW were consolidated, political administration installed and rehabilitation and development works accelerated, it would be unwise to open another front. He said that notwithstanding that back of TTP had been broken, but runaways had taken refuge in Orakzai, NW, Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber Agencies wherefrom they were still carrying out random attacks and that troops were keeping all the trouble spots in check. He added that while Kurram Agency was rife with sectarian war, even SW had not been fully neutralized since displaced persons housed in Tank and DIK were yet to return to their homes to resume normal activities.

Pentagon and NATO commanders understood the logic given and expressed satisfaction over spectacular gains made, but hawks within US Administration, Congress and State Department mostly influenced by Jewish and Indian lobbies in pursuit of their sinister designs kept up the pressure on Pakistan by reminding that aid under Kerry-Lugar Bill will be conditional to progress achieved on terrorism. They ignored Pakistan’s economic and human losses and that Pakistan urgently needed financial resources and military equipment to fight the war.

CIA, RAW and Blackwater kept up with their secret games to fuel terrorism particularly in NW to provoke Pakistan to jump the gun. Apart from intensifying drones attacks, several shady groups like Asian Tigers comprising mostly Punjabi militants were instigated to make efforts to break peace accord between Gul Bahadur and security forces and to keep instigating TTP elements. Presence of some elements belonging to Haqqani group in NW and its tacit understanding with Pakistan also irked US and were targeted by drones. It was in the backdrop of their keenness to overstretch Pak Army and to let it get pinned down in several regions that kidnapping of two former ISI officers and British journalists by Asian Tigers and beheading of Khalid Khwaja together with Times Square incident and attack on Ahmadi worship places and Jinnah hospital in Lahore fitted into the scheme of things.

Hopes are now being pinned on the hypothesis that operation in NW will antagonize Gul Bahadur led Othmanzai Wazirs, Dawars, Haqqani group, Punjabi Taliban and will propel Afghan Taliban to join the fray. They also hope that Maulvi Nazir leading Ahmadzai Wazirs in SW which has so far remained neutral will also join in, thus easing pressure on Mehsuds and enabling them to regroup and put up a joint front against the Army. Such a development will be ideal for the club of wicked in Kabul. India having again worn the mask of friendship will instantly heat up the eastern front to pose a dilemma on Pak armed forces.

Presently Pakistan Armed Forces are well balanced to fight war on terror as well as cater for Indian threat. Recently concluded largest ever exercises Azm-e-Nau in which army and air force took part was an indicator that operational fitness and resolve of armed forces are on a very high level. Rah-e-Rast and Rah-e-Nijat operations involved almost corps size forces in each sector. It will require another corps effort to mount an operation in NW where reportedly militants belonging to several groups are operating. Already 70,000 troops have been shifted from the east towards western regions to fight militants. Pulling out two more divisions will be at the cost of weakening our defensive effort along eastern border.

Notwithstanding US verbal assurances, which have always proved illusive, Indian threat cannot be overlooked. Armed forces operational readiness and capability to repel Indian aggression deters India from undertaking any venture. It has therefore impelled Pakistan’s adversaries to weaken its armed forces from within, which also stand guard on nukes. Ways are being devised to keep almost three corps in northwest and a corps in Balochistan fixed and render eastern front weak.
Our leaders in the grip of Washington can only delay operation in NW for a while but cannot abandon it. I am sure Gen Kayani has a plan up his sleeve to tackle NW his own way without compromising Pakistan’s security.

Brig Asif Haroon Raja is Member Board of Advisors, Opinion Maker. He has been a Directing Staff, Command and Staff Collge Quetta. He did his MSc in War Studies and been Director Psy-Ops. Was also Defence Attache to Egypt and Sudan.

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Pakistan’s Failure to Hit Sanctuary Has Positive Side for US

Postby shemrez » Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:58 pm

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Pakistan’s Failure to Hit Militant Sanctuary Has Positive Side for U.S.

By ERIC SCHMITT
Published: January 17, 2011

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A car and home in Miram Shah, Pakistan, were damaged in what was suspected to be an American missile strike in 2008. Hasbunallah Khan/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Pakistan’s refusal to attack militants in a notorious sanctuary on its northwest border may have created a magnet there for hundreds of Islamic fighters seeking a safe haven where they can train and organize attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan. But theirs is a congregation in the cross hairs.

A growing number of senior United States intelligence and counterinsurgency officials say that by bunching up there, insurgents are ultimately making it easier for American drone strikes to hit them from afar.

American officials are loath to talk about this silver lining to the storm cloud that they have long described building up in the tribal area of North Waziristan, where the insurgents run a virtual mini-state the size of Rhode Island. This is because they do not want to undermine the Obama administration’s urgent public pleas for Pakistan to order troops into the area, or to give Pakistan an excuse for inaction.

“We cannot succeed in Afghanistan without shutting down those safe havens,” Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week, underscoring a major conclusion of the White House’s strategic review of Afghanistan policy last month.

But as long as the safe havens exist, they provide a rich hunting ground, however inadvertent it may be.

Pakistani Army operations in the other six of seven tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan have helped drive fighters from Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani network and other militant groups into North Waziristan, the one tribal area that Pakistan has not yet assaulted.

With several hundred insurgents largely bottled up there, and with few worries about accidentally hitting Pakistani soldiers battling militants or civilians fleeing a combat zone, the Central Intelligence Agency’s drones have attacked targets in North Waziristan with increasing effectiveness and have degraded Al Qaeda’s ability to carry out a major attack against the United States, the senior officials said.

The number of strikes in North Waziristan grew to 104 in 2010 from 22 in 2009, according to the Long War Journal, a Web site that tracks the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There have been five strikes in North Waziristan so far this year.

While the overall effectiveness of the strikes is impossible to ascertain, there are many accounts to confirm that insurgent fighters and leaders have indeed been killed.

To be sure, a wide array of administration officials have acknowledged the limitations of drone strikes and emphasized the need for Pakistan to use ground troops to clear out militants who have used the refuge in North Waziristan to rest and rearm, a point Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. made to Pakistani civilian leaders and ranking generals on a visit to Pakistan last week.

A senior counterterrorism official concurred, saying: “We’ve seen in the past what happens when terrorists are given a de facto safe haven. It tends to turn out ugly for both Pakistan and the United States. It’s absolutely critical that Pakistan stay focused on rooting out militants in North Waziristan.”

The C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, discussed counterterrorism issues with the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, and the head of Pakistan’s main spy agency, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, in a meeting in Washington on Friday, a C.I.A. spokesman said.

But half a dozen senior intelligence, counterterrorism and military officials interviewed in the past several days said a bright side had unexpectedly emerged from Pakistan’s delay. Pounding the militants consolidated in the North Waziristan enclave with airstrikes will leave the insurgents in a weakened state if the Pakistani offensive comes later this year, the officials said.

“In some ways, it’s to our benefit to keep them bottled up, mostly in North Waziristan,” said a senior intelligence official, who like others interviewed agreed to speak candidly about the Pakistan strategy if he was not identified. “This is not intentional. That wasn’t the design to bottle them up. That’s just where they are, and they’re there for a reason. They don’t have a lot of options.”

Another senior administration official added, “We’d still prefer the Pakistani Army to operate in North Waziristan, but consolidating the insurgents in one place is not such a bad thing.”

Senior Pakistani politicians and commanders, including Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief of staff, say their troops are already stretched thin and will carry out an offensive in North Waziristan on their timetable, not Washington’s. Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik, the main Pakistan commander in the northwest, said in October that it would take at least six months to clear militants from two other restive tribal areas, called agencies, before considering an offensive in North Waziristan.

“It’s only a matter of how, when and in what manner do we conduct operations there,” Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, said in a statement. He said Pakistan had 38,000 military and paramilitary troops in North Waziristan.

Senior United States officials praise Pakistan for carrying out operations in the rugged tribal areas, but many of these officials say they are not convinced that the Pakistani Army is willing or able to clear North Waziristan.

Counterterrorism specialists say that attacking militants in North Waziristan would be a much more difficult campaign than previous operations in Swat, Bajaur and South Waziristan. The region has mountainous terrain as well as urban centers, like Miram Shah, that if attacked could result in many civilian casualties or produce hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting, as happened in previous clearing operations.

Moreover, no effective civilian police force exists to take over security duties after military operations. The Pakistani Army still remains in Swat, Bajaur and South Waziristan, months after major campaigns.

And to be truly effective, American officials say, a North Waziristan offensive would have to single out not just Qaeda and Taliban fighters, but also militants in the Haqqani network. That group has long enjoyed support from Pakistan’s military and intelligence services because it represents a strategic hedge against what Pakistan views as encroachment by its archrival, India, in Afghanistan.

“There may be an offensive in North Waziristan, but I think it’ll be very carefully orchestrated to preserve Pakistan’s assets in the region,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who led President Obama’s first Afghanistan policy review.

American intelligence officials say that pressure from the airstrikes has forced small numbers of Haqqani fighters and other militants to slip into other tribal areas, including Kurram and South Waziristan. “The Haqqanis aren’t stupid,” one counterterrorism official said. “They’re feeling some serious pressure in North Waziristan, so it should come as no surprise that they’re looking for places they might think are safer.”

All the more reason proponents of Pakistani action say time is of the essence. “I’ve been very clear in my conversations with General Kayani over the last year or so that there needs to be a focus, from my perspective, on North Waziristan,” Admiral Mullen told reporters in Islamabad last month. “That’s where Al Qaeda leadership resides, that’s where the Haqqani network, in particular, is headquartered, and the Haqqanis are leading the way and coming across the border and killing American and allied forces. And that has got to cease.”

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Pakistan’s terror havens ‘rich hunting ground’ for US: NYT

Postby Spearhead Research » Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:32 am

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Pakistan’s terror havens ‘rich hunting ground’ for US: NYT

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Pakistan’s refusal to launch a military operation in North Waziristan to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries on its northwest border may have created a magnet there for hundreds of fighters, which has a positive side for the US, according to a report in the New York Times (NYT).

The report said that a growing number of senior US intelligence and counterinsurgency officials were of the opinion that by bunching up there, insurgents were ultimately making it easier for American drone strikes to hit them from afar. “In some ways, it’s to our benefit to keep them bottled up, mostly in North Waziristan,” NYT quoted a senior intelligence official as saying on condition of anonymity.

“This is not intentional. That wasn’t the design to bottle them up. That’s just where they are, and they’re there for a reason. They don’t have a lot of options,” the official added. According to the report, half a dozen senior intelligence, counter-terrorism and military officials interviewed in the past several days said a bright side had unexpectedly emerged from the country’s delay. Pounding the militants consolidated in the North Waziristan enclave with air strikes would leave the insurgents in a weakened state if the Pakistani offensive comes later this year, the officials added.

With several hundred insurgents largely bottled up there, and with few worries about accidentally hitting Pakistani soldiers battling militants or civilians fleeing a combat zone, the Central Intelligence Agency’s drones have attacked targets in North Waziristan with increasing effectiveness and have degraded Al Qaeda’s ability to carry out a major attack against the US, the report quoted the senior officials, as saying.

US officials are loath to talk about this silver lining to the storm cloud that they have long described building up in North Waziristan, where the insurgents run a virtual mini-state the size of Rhode Island, the report said. This is because they do not want to undermine the Obama administration’s urgent public pleas for Pakistan to order troops into the area, or to give Pakistan an excuse for inaction, the report added.

“We cannot succeed in Afghanistan without shutting down those safe havens,” Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week.

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