Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, one of the largest mosques in the world (Photo by Michael Foley, available at Flickr)

As the United States military continues battling the Taliban in Afghanistan, the border regions of Pakistan remain an increasingly important variable in the prospects for long-term success in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Top Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders have established strongholds in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), and Baluchistan Province – all areas from which militants launch attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.  In this sub-section, the Critical Threats Project explores these and other issues in several in-depth pieces.


Pakistan Security Brief

Pakistan Security Brief: Daily tracking summarizing developments related to the security situation in Pakistan.



Islamic State Threat Grows in South Asia at Pakistani Taliban's Expense: A look at how the splintering of the Pakistani Taliban has created room for IS to challenge al Qaeda's preeminence in South Asia.

Pakistani Government's Survival in Question Following Violent Clashes with Protestors: A look at dangerous turns of events in Pakistan's protracted political crisis.

Designating the Haqqani Network: New Constraints Moderating Pakistan's Relationship with the U.S.: CTP analyzes the State Department's inactivity in designating the Haqqani Network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Courtroom Chaos: Pakistan's Supreme Court Sacks Prime Minister Gilani: CTP analyzes the decision to disqualify Gilani.

Failure in Chicago: No U.S.-Pakistan Deal on NATO Supply Lines: CTP evaluates the changing U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

Pakistan's Federal Felon: CTP analyzes the unprecedented conviction of Prime Minister Gilani.

Continuity Amidst Change: Pakistan's New Intelligence Chief: CTP looks at the change of command at the ISI and examines the role the new Director General is likely to play.

Taliban Reconciliation in Pakistan: Much Less Than Meets the Eye: CTP assesses reports of Taliban reconciliation efforts in Pakistan.

Hope and Change and Imran Khan: CTP looks at the unexpected rise of a new force in Pakistan politics.

Turbulent North Waziristan: Gul Bahadur Threatens to End the Peace: CTP examines the fallout from the latest violence in North Waziristan and the implications of a break with local Taliban strongmen.

Pakistan Is Wrong to Think It Can Replace the United States with China: CTP evaluates Pakistan's relationship with China.

Diversified, Not Diminished: Al Qaeda in Pakistan Since 9/11: This piece assesses the evolution of al Qaeda in Pakistan since 9/11.

Limited Goals, Limited Gains: The Pakistan Army's Operation in Kurram: CTP assesses the Pakistani military's latest operation in Kurram agency and its implications for the larger war effort against militancy in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Ilyas Kashmiri: The Possible Death of an Al Qaeda Mastermind: CTP profiles Ilyas Kashmiri, one of al Qaeda's most operationally active senior leaders, and assesses the impact of his death on al Qaeda.

Militant Sympathies in Pakistani Army's Senior Ranks: CTP examines the facts behind and fallout from the army's arrest of a senior officer with ties to Pakistani militant groups.

Gearing up for a Long-awaited Offensive in North Waziristan: CTP analyzes reports that the Pakistani military may finally be taking on militants in North Waziristan and what such an operation may entail.

A Dangerous Mix: Militant Groups in North Waziristan: A CTP primer on the main militant groups operating from and sheltering in North Waziristan, their relationships with the Pakistani state, and with each other.

After Bin Laden: Confronting the Haqqani Network in Kurram: The death of bin Laden is not the end of al Qaeda; in fact the network continues to thrive among and benefit from other outfits in the region.

The Haqqani Network in Kurram: A joint report by CTP and the Insitute for the Study of War examines the expansion of the Haqqani Network into Kurram agency and the impact on security in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda Speaks: Statement Confirms Osama bin Laden's Death: CTP looks at the first public statement released by top al Qaeda leadership following bin Laden's death and what it might mean for the network.

Kagan House Testimony: CTP Director Fred Kagan testifies on the hill on the persistent danger emanating from terrorist groups in Pakistan and why killing bin Laden is not the end of the fight.

Killing Bin Laden: CTP examines the details regarding the momentous assassination of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a raid on his safe house in Abbottabad, Pakistan

North Waziristan Terror Links: CTP compiles a list of the various terror plots and operatives targeting the West that have been linked back to the haven in North Waziristan.

Trickling home to South Waziristan: CTP looks at the impact and importance of the repatriation of tribesmen home to South Waziristan one year since their displacement.

North Waziristan Tracker: CTP tracks drone strikes, Taliban activity, Pakistani military actions, plots and threats and other key events related to North Waziristan agency.

Floods in Pakistan - Maps, Charts and Key Data: CTP has produced several graphics tracking the flood, its severity, the locations of terror-linked aid camps and more.

Floods in Pakistan: CTP analyzes the effects of the historic flooding in Pakistan and how radical Islamists are stepping in to take advantage of the relief efforts.

Pakistan's Army Chief's Extension: The Critical Threats team examines the recent decision to grant Pakistan's Army Chief a 3-year extension and its impact on the country's future.

Swat Operation Anniversary: A look at the state of Swat one year after the Pakistani military's operation to clear the valley of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Qari Hussain Mehsud: A detailed profile of Qari Hussain Mehsud, a top deputy of Hakimullah Mehsud and the TTP's principal trainer of suicide bombers.

TTP Operational Link to Times Square

Orakzai Operation Tracker: The Critical Threats team catalogues and provides background materiel on the Pakistani military's latest offensive against the TTP in Orakzai.

A Sea Change in Pakistan?: CTP and the Institute for the Study of War examine the circumstances surrounding Pakistan's recent arrests of senior Afghan Taliban leaders.

FATA operations after South Waziristan: A new CTP report looks at recent and ongoing operations in the FATA since the end of major fighting in South Waziristan.

The Death of Hakimullah Mehsud: CTP looks at the circumstances surrounding Hakimullah's death, his potential successors, and the future of the TTP.

Phase 1 Analysis: Operation Rah-e-Nijat: A CTP briefing examining the end of the major combat phase of Pakistani military operations in South Waziristan and looking at what may lie ahead.

Waziristan Ground Operation Coverage: The Critical Threats team catalogues and provides background material on the Pakistani military's operation in South Waziristan.

War-gaming the Afghan Taliban: An assessment of the challenges that Pakistan’s security forces would face in an effort to target Afghan-focused insurgent groups.

Pakistan's war against Islamists: A look at the new Pakistani offensive in South Waziristan and what the U.S. reaction to that needs to be.

Hakimullah Mehsud: A look at the Taliban succession crisis following Beitullah’s death, Hakimullah’s subsequent rise to power and the challenges the TTP now faces.

Pakistani Military Options: An assessment of the different strategic options available for the Pakistani military to pursue in the aftermath of Beitullah Mehsud’s demise.

Beitullah Mehsud’s Death: An analysis of the circumstances surrounding the TTP chief’s death and its possible implications for the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban.

Pakistani Military OrBat: An Order of Battle listing Pakistani military units and their deployments in the FATA and NWFP specifically, and in the rest of the country in general.

Punjabi Taliban: An exploration of the increasing entry of the Taliban into Pakistan's core Punjab region.


North Waziristan Map: CTP has produced a map of North Waziristan showing the main areas of militant influence in the tribal agency.

FATA Conflict Maps: CTP has produced several maps of areas undergoing military operations. Detailed here are maps of the NWFP and FATA, and close-ins of Orakzai, Kurram and Bajaur agencies.

2009 Waziristan Conflict Map: Militant strongholds, military base locations, key contested areas and week-by-week listings of all incidences of violence relating to the insurgency in the FATA.



Qari Hussain Mehsud: A detailed profile of Qari Hussain Mehsud, a top deputy of Hakimullah Mehsud and the TTP's principal trainer of suicide bombers.

Hakimullah Mehsud: A look at the Taliban succession crisis following Beitullah’s death, Hakimullah’s subsequent rise to power and the challenges the TTP now faces.

Turkistan Bhittani: A profile of the colorful ‘pro-government’ militant commander from South Waziristan who continues to pose a threat to the Pakistani Taliban.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur: A backgrounder on the most senior Taliban commander in North Waziristan and the principal host of the Haqqani network in Pakistan.

Maulvi Nazir Ahmad: An in-depth look at the second most important Taliban leader in South Waziristan; both the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban are sparring for his support.

Qari Zainuddin Mehsud: An examination of the now-deceased leader of the anti-Baitullah-Mehsud Abdullah Mehsud group.



School Massacre a Sign of Taliban's Desperation but also Violent Capability

By Reza Jan, December 16, 2014

At least 141 people have been killed in a Pakistani Taliban attack on a school in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar. The attack clearly demonstrates that the Pakistani Taliban remains a deadly and potent threat, despite having been weakened by ongoing military operations and recent infighting.

Islamic State Threat Grows in South Asia at Pakistani Taliban's Expense

By Reza Jan, November 10, 2014

Several senior members of the premier al Qaeda-allied Pakistani Taliban umbrella group declared on October 10 that they were defecting and proclaiming allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. The move was remarkable because it implied a renunciation of allegiance to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Pakistani Government’s Survival in Question Following Violent Clashes with Protesters

By Reza Jan, August 31, 2014

Pakistan's political crisis finally boiled over and clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters turned the capital, Islamabad, into a warzone. The violence and instability of the situation has called the government's survival into question.

Pakistan's March Madness: The Opposition Attempts to Topple the Government

By Reza Jan, August 14, 2014

Although events in Pakistan sometimes have a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it feeling to them, today’s protests have been months in the making and have implications for the future of Pakistan’s civil-military relations, democratic development and relations with the U.S. and India.

Gauging the Success of Pakistan’s North Waziristan Operation

By Reza Jan, July 25, 2014

The ground phase of the operation in North Waziristan is progressing at a cautious pace, and whether Pakistan has learned from the lessons of its previous military operations and is prepared to do what’s necessary to make its gains in North Waziristan permanent, remains to be seen.

What You Need to Know About Pakistan's North Waziristan Operation

By Reza Jan, June 19, 2014

After many feints and false starts, the Pakistani military finally launched a long-awaited military operation in the main al Qaeda and Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan on Sunday, June 15. Although necessary, the operation alone is not sufficient in defeating al Qaeda and its allies in the region.

Pakistani Military Operation in North Waziristan: Knowing the Battlefield

By Reza Jan, June 16, 2014

The Pakistani military on June 15 declared that it had launched a “comprehensive” operation against militant safe havens in North Waziristan Agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The long-awaited offensive comes one week after the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) audaciously attacked the international airport in Karachi.

When Two Sharifs Fight, Musharraf Gets Trampled

By Reza Jan, Foreign Policy, April 3, 2014

Pakistan finally indicted former president and army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf for high treason for abrogating the country's constitution in 2007. The indictment is likely to increase the strife between Pakistan's powerful military and relatively new civilian government.

A Good Year for al Qaeda in Pakistan

By Reza Jan, December 19, 2013

Al Qaeda’s network and associates in Pakistan got a free pass in 2013. For 2014, we dismiss it as a group of has-beens at our own peril.

Drone Kills Taliban Leader Hakimullah Mehsud: Ramifications for Pakistan, the Taliban and the U.S.

By Reza Jan, November 4, 2013

Hakimullah Mehsud's death will have important impacts on the TTP, Pakistan’s deadliest terrorist group, as well as on the Pakistani state’s approach to dealing with its militancy problem.