Tuesday 23 February 2010

Ongoing military campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas

Reza Jan of the Critical Threats Project of the American Enterprise Institute has produced a useful summary of continuing Pakistani Army actions in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
He reports that the Pakistani government and the military leadership have belatedly come to realise that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) insurgency is a mortal threat to the state. In response, in recent months the military has built upon the momentum it achieved in the Swat and South Waziristan operations and the growing unpopularity of the TTP to expand its area of operations into other parts of FATA, including, Bajaur, Orakzai and Kurram.
The Army's operations aim to target and disrupt the TTP leadership and to stimulate local uprisings against the organisation as a way of bringing the insurgency to an end.
Author Reza Jan notes that a key factor in determining long-term success against the TTP will be whether the Pakistani military sustains the post-conflict phase of operations in a focused manner and the success it has in empowering local lashkars to resist renewed attempts at encroachment by the TTP.
The report contains some useful background information, pointing out, for example, that Orakzai contains the world's largest illegal arms bazaar at Darra Adam Khel, which is also the base for the bloodthirsty Commander Tariq Group of the TTP, led by Tariq Afridi.
Another interesting insight is the account of an uprising by Shia Stori Khel tribesmen against the TTP. Tensions between incoming fighters from South Waziristan - including many foreigners - and locals were said to have been behind numerous incidents in the region.
This report is very useful, if only because it shows that the Pakistani Army's South Waziristan operation was not simply cosmetic. The Army, it would seem, is doing what it can to harass and destroy the militants, without doing so much that it creates a general uprising against the state.

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