Paramilitary soldiers march along a street in a neighborhood after a gunfire attack on a security academy run by the Airports Security Force (ASF) in Karachi June 10, 2014

June 19, 2014

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

Paramilitary soldiers march along a street in a neighborhood after a gunfire attack on a security academy run by the Airports Security Force (ASF) in Karachi June 10, 2014. Pakistan's Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack on the security academy at Karachi's airport that killed more than 30 people. (Reuters)

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.[1] The offensive follows the recent breakdown of peace talks between the Pakistani Taliban and the government, and an audacious, deadly attack on the country’s busiest airport. A properly executed military offensive in North Waziristan may seriously impact the ability of groups like al Qaeda, the Taliban and their allies to plan and execute attacks inside Pakistan, across the region, and against U.S. interests at home and abroad. Although necessary, the operation alone is not sufficient in defeating al Qaeda and its allies in the region, however. Furthermore, the severely diminished U.S. presence in Afghanistan means that militant forces escaping the operation in Pakistan may be able to reconstitute in Afghanistan unhindered. The operation’s characteristics, potential goals and likely prospects are examined below.

 

Why now?

The most important tipping factor as to why the Pakistani military has chosen to undertake an operation now is likely the June 8, 2014 attack by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) on Karachi’s international airport.[2]

The U.S has continually pressured Pakistan to conduct a military operation in North Waziristan Agency since at least early 2010. This pressure was probably strongest following the attacks by the TTP and its allies on Camp Chapman, in Khost, Afghanistan on December 30, 2009 and the Times Square bomb attack on May 1, 2010—both plots had operational links to North Waziristan.[3] Despite U.S criticism and an increase in violence, the Pakistani military was reluctant to undertake a large-scale offensive in the agency for a number of reasons. The army feared being stretched too thin after recently conducting robust operations in both Swat district and neighboring South Waziristan Agency in 2009.[4] There was also concern for the likely militant backlash in the rest of the country if the main extremist stronghold in North Waziristan was seriously disturbed.[5] Lastly, the army was probably also keen to avoid the serious disruption that an operation might cause to the Haqqani Network, an Afghan militant group and Pakistani state proxy that operates in Afghanistan but is based in North Waziristan and shares both ideology and infrastructure with groups such as the TTP and IMU in North Waziristan.[6]

The army’s willingness to undertake a burdensome operation appeared to change with the accession of the new Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, in November 2013.[7] Gen. Sharif appeared more intent on conducting an operation in North Waziristan than his predecessor, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who frequently alluded to conducting such an operation but never followed through in deed. By January 2014, following more than a year of serious TTP violence across Pakistan, there was significant public and political support for conducting an operation, and both Pakistani and U.S. officials expected an operation to be launched sometime in February or March of this year.[8] Once the army began conducting airstrikes in and around North Waziristan as part of its efforts to shape the battlefield, the TTP appealed to the Pakistani government for peace talks and offered a ceasefire.[9] Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, who had been leery of the political effects and fallout of an operation, eagerly accepted the offer of talks and the then-imminent operation was put on an indefinite hold.[10] The army has insisted that any future operations it undertakes have the full backing of the civilian government, and it has blamed Prime Minister Sharif’s decision to negotiate with the Taliban as having robbed the incipient North Waziristan offensive of both political ownership and momentum.[11]

Negotiations carried on for several months with few signs of any progress; both the government’s and the TTP’s minimal conditions did not overlap, making a final agreement of any sort impossible.[12] Meanwhile, the TTP continued to sporadically attack military and civilian targets across the country despite having declared a ceasefire. The military, which had adopted a policy of immediately responding to attacks by the TTP, responded to TTP provocations with limited, punitive strikes on militant hideouts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).[13] As the tit-for-tat pattern gradually escalated, Prime Minister Sharif’s approach of kicking the metaphorical can down the road for as long as possible gradually became untenable; public opinion shifted in response to the TTP’s intransigence and support for a military operation once again began generating political momentum.[14]

On June 8, 2014, the TTP and IMU launched a joint assault on Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport, beginning a six-hour-long siege that would leave over 37 people dead.[15] While the attack itself was unsuccessful, the audacious and embarrassing nature of the attack killed all public support for the sputtering peace process and created a groundswell of support for a full-scale military operation against the TTP and its foreign allies in North Waziristan.[16] Public opinion and the existing army pressure following the attack is likely what tipped the scales in the prime minister’s office towards approving a major offensive.

 

Who is being targeted?

The Pakistani Taliban umbrella group known as the TTP and, particularly, its “foreign” militant allies such as al Qaeda and Uzbek militants, are the principal targets of the current offensive, code-named Operation Zarb-e-Azb after a sword used by the Prophet Muhammad.[17]

Originally founded in 2007, the TTP is a constellation of militant groups based across Pakistan, particularly in its northwestern Pashtun areas, parts of Punjab province, and major urban centers such as Karachi. The group’s original core, comprised mainly of Pashtun Mehsud tribesmen, was based in the FATA’s South Waziristan Agency, but the TTP shifted the bulk of its leadership network, infrastructure and fighters to neighboring North Waziristan in order to escape a large-scale Pakistani military operation, codenamed Operation Rah-e-Nijat, in South Waziristan in the fall of 2009.[18]

Al Qaeda is also embedded with the TTP in North Waziristan, with the TTP acting as a key facilitator and enabler of al Qaeda in Pakistan.[19] While no formal affiliation exists between the two groups, al Qaeda in Pakistan has a parasitic, if not symbiotic, relationship with the TTP. The TTP plays proud host to al Qaeda leaders and operatives in Pakistan and often serve as its foot soldiers; al Qaeda members often provide the TTP with advanced training and support in conducting attacks in Pakistan and abroad.[20]

Coexisting alongside the TTP and al Qaeda in North Waziristan is a complex militant mélange that includes “Punjabi Taliban” members, also known as the TTP’s Punjab chapter, which consists of fighters from pre-existing, Punjab-based anti-India and sectarian militant groups.[21] Uzbek militants from the IMU and the Islamic Jihad Union, both of which are closely allied to al Qaeda, are also TTP bedfellows, as is the anti-China, Uighur separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and a host of other foreign fighters including Tajiks, Chechens, Germans and Arabs of many originations.[22]

It is also worth discussing the militant groups that the offensive may not target directly, or attempt to avoid targeting altogether. The most powerful Taliban group inside North Waziristan is a group that calls itself the North Waziristan Mujahideen and is led by a militant commander named Hafiz Gul Bahadur. Bahadur is from the Utmanzai Wazir tribe native to North Waziristan. His group holds sway in much of the central and western parts of the agency, plays the role of primary local host to the Haqqani Network in Pakistan, and maintains benevolent neutrality towards TTP fighters cohabiting in his areas of influence.[23] Bahadur’s Taliban group, however, has generally eschewed attacking the Pakistani state and has concentrated its attacks on NATO and Afghan forces inside Afghanistan.[24] Bahadur had maintained an on-again off-again peace deal with the Pakistani government that effectively ceded him control of most of North Waziristan in September 2006.[25] On May 30, 2014, however, in response to Pakistani military airstrikes allegedly targeting foreign militants in North Waziristan, Bahadur’s group issued a pamphlet accusing the Pakistani state of reneging on the existing peace agreement. The pamphlet called on local tribesmen to evacuate the area as the army was planning a large-scale offensive against the terms of the deal, and issued a deadline of June 10 (later extended to June 20) for Bahadur’s fighters to wrap up operations in neighboring Afghanistan and return to defend North Waziristan against a Pakistan Army onslaught.[26] The TTP declared a few days later that it would fight alongside Bahadur’s men against the army if Bahadur’s group declared war on the state.[27] There is currently not enough reporting to substantiate whether or not Bahadur’s group is still preparing for hostilities against the Pakistani state, but the difficulty of the operation would increase by an order of magnitude if Bahadur’s group maintains its about-face against the army.

The Haqqani Network is likely the only militant group based in North Waziristan that the Pakistan Army will go out of its way to avoid targeting. The Haqqanis have been key Pakistani state proxies since the Afghan-Soviet War. It is unlikely that the Pakistani military would want to undercut the influence of its own proxies in Afghanistan and at the same time incur the wrath of one of the best trained and most sophisticated militant networks in the region.[28] With local tribesmen reporting a recent decrease in Haqqani Network activity in the region, it is likely that parts of the network have already relocated from the main combat zones to safer areas, possibly inside Afghanistan.[29]

 

What forces are involved?

The Pakistan Army is taking the lead in conducting Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan; the paramilitary Frontier Corps is likely to function in an auxiliary role supporting the army.[30] The region comes under the purview of the Peshawar-headquartered XI Corps led by Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani.[31] North Waziristan in particular is garrisoned by XI Corps’ 7th Infantry Division (7 Div); Major General Zafarullah Khan took over command of the division in March 2014.[32] 7 Div has been bolstered to command more than its customary three infantry brigades, given its particularly heavy operational burden.[33]

7 Div has been deployed in North Waziristan for several years now; the majority of the force is split between the two major army garrisons in Miram Shah, the agency headquarters and location of the airport, and Mir Ali.[34] As such, most of the troops to be employed in the operation are already available inside North Waziristan and will not require a major incursion into enemy territory as was required in South Waziristan in 2009.[35]

To 7 Div’s south, the 9th Infantry Division (9 Div), also a part of XI Corps, holds watch in neighboring South Waziristan, as do elements of II Corps’ 40th Infantry Division, such as the 327th Infantry Brigade.[36] It is likely that 9 Div will support 7 Div’s operations in North Waziristan, just as the reverse was true during the 2009 South Waziristan operation.[37] The Pakistan Army also has additional forces stationed in nearby Bannu and Hangu districts that could also potentially be brought to bear as part of the operation.[38]

Reported estimates of force strength in North Waziristan vary widely, from 20,000-30,000 on the low side to as many as 80,000.[39]  An additional 2,300 troops were reportedly deployed to the area on June 15.[40]  Exactly how large the force is at this point is uncertain, but given the units available in the area and the scale of the operation, it is highly unlikely that there are any fewer than 30,000 troops operating in North Waziristan at this time.[41]

The Pakistani military also has special operations forces from its Special Services Group (SSG) operating inside North Waziristan at the moment. Two battalions of SSG commandos were employed in the South Waziristan operation in 2009, and given the similar scale of the two operations, it is reasonable to assume there will be at least as many SSG personnel involved in North Waziristan.[42]

Troops on the ground will also be supported by armor and artillery units. Both 7 Div and 9 Div are light infantry divisions, but the Pakistan Army has adopted the technique over the years of using armor formations to support ground troops involved in operations against militants in the tribal areas and in Swat district.[43] Small tank units will likely have been seconded to, and distributed among, the infantry units involved from the army’s Punjab-based armored corps. Artillery batteries that are part of 7 Div’s constituent brigades should already be available and deployed at the army bases in North Waziristan, such as Miram Shah, Mir Ali, etc.

Ground troops will also receive heavy cover from aerial units, including army gunships and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter bombers. As of 2012, the army’s 31st and 32nd Army Aviation Squadrons operated about 28 AH-1 Cobra gunship helicopters.[44] A significant number of these assets will be employed over North Waziristan as the Pakistan Army has previously favored using Cobra gunships to hunt down and strike militant hideouts, vehicles and force concentrations in addition to providing overhead cover to ground troops. Troops, particularly commandos from the SSG, will also rely heavily on helicopters for transport, infiltration and exfiltration. In order to deny militants the advantage of holding the high ground, troops often deploy via helicopter to occupy hills and mountains in order to fight their way down towards the enemy, rather than up.[45] The Pakistan Army operates a number of Mi-17 “Hip” helicopters for rotary-wing transport needs. 

Lastly, the military is likely to rely heavily on fixed-wing aviation for both surveillance and air support. The PAF relies heavily on U.S.-manufactured F-16s and French-made Mirages for Close Air Support (CAS) missions; the F-16 is the most capable PAF platform for conducting precision-strike missions, and PAF pilots gained significant experience operating in a CAS role for ground troops during the Swat and South Waziristan operations in 2009.[46] The Pakistani military also claims to be using its own drone aircraft for conducting battlefield surveillance and intelligence gathering and has been keen to make the point that it is receiving no assistance from the U.S.[47] That said, the U.S. is continuing to operate its more-capable drones over North Waziristan and gathering intelligence that may eventually be used by, or in support of, Pakistani forces. Early on the morning of June 18, a U.S. drone strike targeted and killed six militants in a compound in Dargah Mandi, Miram Shah Sub-district.[48]

 

Where is fighting taking place and how is the operation likely to proceed?

Major activity by ground troops has yet to be seen three days into the start of the operation. Most military activity against militant groups in North Waziristan thus far has been conducted by air assets such as jets and gunships.[49]

Pakistani military press releases claim that the military has targeted and destroyed IMU and ETIM hideouts, along with numerous enemy fighters. As of June 17, the army claimed over 180 militants had been killed in clashes and air strikes in the Degan and Boya areas of Datta Khel sub-district, Mir Ali sub-distrct and Shawal sub-district.[50]

Several reports quoting local tribesmen claim that many local and foreign fighters left Mir Ali and Miram Shah for safer locales prior to the start of the operation.[51] One report claimed that over 80 percent of enemy fighters and leaders had already fled and another said that much of the TTP’s leadership had relocated to the Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency.[52] Many militants have also reportedly moved west out of Miram Shah and Mir Ali towards Datta Khel Sub-district and the Shawal Valley in Shawal Sub-district where they could more easily take shelter or then move into neighboring Afghanistan.[53]

Militants fleeing to Datta Khel may be hoping that the army will refrain from pursuing them there since the region is the primary stronghold of Hafiz Gul Bahadur and the army may not want to fall afoul of a powerful Taliban commander it, until recently, considered to be an ally. In the Shawal region, the much more remote and forbidding terrain will make pursuit of the enemy by ground troops more difficult; so far air strikes have taken place in Mir Ali, Datta Khel and Shawal districts, possibly reflecting where concentrations of enemy fighters are presently being found. Several enemy hideouts were destroyed in the strikes and almost 180 people reportedly killed over the course of two days.

Based on depictions of Pakistani force deployment and military and press reporting, the majority of Pakistani ground forces are concentrated around Miram Shah and Mir Ali.[54] Troops have reportedly established cordons around the main population centers and military snipers have taken up positions in the area as well.[55] On June 16, locals reported that soldiers had occupied the surrounding hilltops.[56] 

Army officials say ground forces will get involved in the operation in earnest next week, after airstrikes have softened up enemy positions and troops have managed to get into advanced positions around Miram Shah and Mir Ali.[57] The army says it wants to allow ample time to ensure the cordons around those towns in particular are secure in order to prevent militants from fleeing and, at the same time, allow civilians more time to escape through controlled checkpoints where their identity can be checked.[58]

The army plans on clearing out remaining enemy concentrations in Miram Shah and Mir Ali before advancing deeper into North Waziristan.[59] The next likely direction of advance will be east to west, down the Tochi river valley towards Datta Khel and the Afghan border. The Tochi River’s flood plain is where the habitations and villages in North Waziristan tend to be clustered and will therefore need to be carefully combed through.[60] Forces may eventually enter the remote and forbidding Shawal valley where access and mobility is more difficult—exactly why large numbers of enemy fighters are reportedly fleeing there.

 

How effective is it likely to be and why? What are the pitfalls?

While the Pakistani decision to finally pursue a robust military offensive in the region is significant and laudable, several factors need to be identified that will likely make long-term success difficult to achieve in North Waziristan.

First, the military should have little difficulty in pursuing the initial “clear” phase of the operation largely because the enemy presence in the agency is likely to be very light. The TTP has learnt from its experiences in previous Pakistani military operations and generally chooses not to engage the army conventionally. The Pakistani military and government has been telegraphing its intention to launch a military operation for months and achieving strategic surprise in North Waziristan is out of the question at this point.[61] Numerous reports have indicated that militants have been leaving their main strongholds in North Waziristan for weeks, either moving under the cover of being internally displaced people (IDPs), or moving towards more defensible strongholds in Datta Khel, Shawal and across the border in Afghanistan.[62] 

Pakistan has asked the Afghan government to assist it by sealing the border to prevent militants escaping to Afghanistan; the Afghan government, however, has little interest in helping Pakistan fight domestically-focused militants after it has continually asked Pakistan for years to tackle Afghanistan-focused militants sheltering inside Pakistan with no result.[63] Even if Afghanistan was a reliable partner, Afghan security forces’ control of territory on the border is tenuous enough that they are unlikely to have the capabilities to prevent militants from crossing the border in a comprehensive manner.

The capability of NATO troops to play the anvil to the Pakistan Army hammer is even more diminished given the rapid withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. As U.S. forces have drawn down, they have transferred control of, or closed down entirely, key forward operating bases (FOB) and combat outposts (COP) in Khost and Paktika provinces, that were used to monitor infiltration routes and intercept militants attempting to slip into Afghanistan from North Waziristan. Vital locations such as FOB Salerno and COP Sperah in Khost, and FOB Sharana in Paktika, were closed down by the end of 2013.[64] The closures of FOBs Salerno and Sharana would also make running and supporting several smaller COPs that watched the North Waziristan border difficult if not untenable. The U.S. has, furthermore, dismantled and dismissed a number of CIA-run elite Afghan paramilitary units known as Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams (CPT). These CPTs, operating clandestinely inside Afghanistan and Pakistan, were key frontline forces fighting the Taliban inside Afghanistan and conducting surveillance on Taliban and al Qaeda forces inside Pakistan.[65] CPTs would have been essential in interdicting Haqqani Network, al Qaeda and TTP militants moving to Afghanistan to escape the North Waziristan offensive. Currently, NATO forces, at best, might be able to manage very limited special operations forces raids and surveillance-based airstrikes. What this means is that, even if TTP and al Qaeda forces are ejected from North Waziristan, the lack of interdiction they are likely to face upon fleeing into Afghanistan will not only offer them a strong chance of survival but the opportunity to reconstitute safe havens in Afghanistan as well. Al Qaeda is already undergoing something of a resurgence in Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan where TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah himself operates largely unmolested by NATO or Afghan forces.[66] The Haqqani Network in particular will benefit from the lack of opposition in its home provinces of Paktia, Khost and Paktika.

Even if Pakistan could somehow prevent militants from fleeing the battlefield, it does not appear as if Pakistan has changed tack on differentiating between Taliban groups it considers pro-state and anti-state, despite the fact that so-called pro-Pakistani-state Taliban groups like the Haqqani Network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group are either benevolently neutral towards, or are actively allied with, groups like the TTP, IMU, and al Qaeda.[67] At this point, the Pakistani military shows no inclination of going after the Haqqani Network and will likely only target Bahadur’s forces if Bahadur actively chooses to resist military incursions into his areas of influence. For as long as Pakistani policy distinguishes between “good” and “bad” militants, any success achieved can be considered only partial, at best.

Furthermore, it does not appear as if Pakistani forces are particularly interested in preventing a militant exodus from the area.[68] The army has made little secret of its intention to, or preparations for, launching a military operation. As enemy groups saw the writing on the wall and began leaving, the army made few efforts to contain them. In fact, one disturbing report paints a picture of Pakistani military forces deliberately abandoning certain posts along Waziristan’s border with Afghanistan for two weeks.[69] Officials in North Waziristan report that “most” foreign fighters were able to slip into Afghanistan as a result.[70] Such action (or lack of action, really) may have been undertaken in order to allow the Haqqani Network the freedom to leave the area, but other militants are easily able to avail themselves of the same convenience. Pakistani forces may not particularly care that enemy fighters have left the area, seeing them as less of a nuisance and danger inside Afghanistan than in Pakistan. All this does is allow fleeing militants the opportunity to escape a major attack on their human network and provide them with a new haven from which to infiltrate, attack, and harry Pakistani forces across the border. While the loss of militant infrastructure in and around Mir Ali and Miram Shah is significant, groups like the TTP and al Qaeda have shown a remarkable ability to rebound from such disruptions fairly quickly, especially if the majority of their human network is intact. South Waziristan is a clear example of such a phenomenon.[71] TTP militants escaped largely unmolested to North Waziristan and were quickly able to reconstitute themselves and an attack infrastructure capable of reaching across the country from their new base of operations.

Lastly, the government’s and army’s attitude towards IDPs from the FATA is far from constructive. After the 2009 South Waziristan operation, many officials viewed IDPs who flooded into other cities in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and Karachi as burdens on infrastructure that upset the delicate ethnic balances in cities like Karachi and incubators for extremists and militants fleeing the battlefield disguised as IDPs.[72] The Sindh government has already declared it does not intend to let new IDPs enter the province without rigorous checks this time around, and it may even try and set up IDP camps in the interior of the province, separate from major population centers.[73]  In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, many IDPs from North Waziristan are refusing to go to government-established IDP camps following calls from militant leaders such as Bahadur to stay away from government assistance and facilities.[74] Many are even travelling to Afghanistan instead in the belief that they will be safer across the border.[75]

The Pakistani government appears to already be losing the battle for the sympathies of the local population. This will become extremely problematic as far as achieving success in North Waziristan is concerned because cooperative local populations that are quickly repatriated following the conclusion of hostilities are the key to being able to cement long-term peace. The 2009 operation in the Swat valley was largely successful because IDPs were treated as stakeholders and repatriated soon after the fighting came to an end; locals became extensions of the local security and intelligence apparatus in the region and were able to help security forces prevent several attempts by TTP militants to re-infiltrate the region.[76] By comparison, South Waziristan saw few permanent successes because even a full year after hostilities ended there, the government was unable to win the trust of local tribesmen and permanently repatriate them. As a result, a military force of some 40,000 men, largely confined to a few checkpoints and bases, was unable to police the vast territory it now held sway over and TTP militants were able to gradually move back in and establish pockets of control.[77]

 

What is necessary for ultimate success?

It is vital to remember that, by this point in the conflict, the war against al Qaeda, the TTP, and their allies, has become bigger than North Waziristan. Even assuming that the operation there is a total success and the militants in the agency can be mostly eliminated, Pakistan will still have a serious Taliban problem. The TTP is an umbrella group and has, true to form, established powerful cells and chapters across the northwest, in the Punjabi heartland, and in major Pakistani metropolises.[78]

Success against the TTP and al Qaeda will require many things: Conducting an operation in North Waziristan is vital to rob the enemy of key infrastructure and deny it the space to operate with impunity in its main stronghold. Properly executing a well-thought plan for the post-conflict environment will be vital to inoculating North Waziristan against a TTP re-incursion. And not stopping to rest on the laurels of North Waziristan will keep militant groups across Pakistan worried for their safety and less able to devote time to planning attacks against domestic and international targets. North Waziristan is a necessary, but not sufficient, step down the path to defeating al Qaeda, its allies, and its mindset in the region.


[1] “Press Release No-PR125/2014-ISPR,” Inter Services Public Relations, June 15, 2014. Available:  https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&id=2573
[3] “Pakistan under pressure after Times Square bomb,” ABC7 Eyewitness News, May 10, 2010. Available: http://7online.com/archive/7433591/
“Terrorist training in Waziristan,” Washington Post, May 6, 2010. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/05/AR2010050504997.html
“Determining the Enemy: Examining a Potential Operational Link between Times Square Attack and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” AEI Critical Threats Project, May 5, 2010. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/may-5-2010-determining-enemy-examining-operational-link-between-times-square-attack-and-ttp
[4] “Pakistan’s Military Holds Back in North Waziristan,” TIME, April 17, 2010. Available: http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1982001,00.html
[5] “Pakistan launches new military offensive against Taliban,” FINANCIAL TIMES, June 16, 2014. Available: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9be3ee14-f502-11e3-bf6e-00144feabdc0.html#axzz34w2fitx8
[6] “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat,” Institute for the Study of War, March 2012. Available: http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf
“The Haqqani Network: From Pakistan to Afghanistan,” Institute for the Study of War, October 2010. Available: http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_Network_0.pdf
“The Haqqani Nexus and the Evolution of al-Qa’ida,” Combating Terrorism Center, 14 July 2011. Available: https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/CTC-Haqqani-Report_Rassler-Brown-Final_Web.pdf
[7] Based on author’s interviews with senior U.S. State Department officials, retired Pakistani military officers and secondary-source reporting of conversations with top Pakistani military officials, spring and summer 2014.
[8] Based on author’s interviews with senior U.S. State Department officials and secondary-source reporting of conversations with top Pakistani military officials, spring and summer 2014.
[9] “Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif seeks Taliban talks despite attacks,” BBC News Asia, January 29 2014. Available: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-25943669
“Pakistan Taliban calls one-month cease-fire,” Los Angeles Times, March 01, 2014. Available: http://articles.latimes.com/2014/mar/01/world/la-fg-wn-pakistan-taliban-calls-one-month-ceasefire-20140301
[10] “Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif seeks Taliban talks despite attacks,” BBC News Asia, January 29 2014. Available: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-25943669
“A Military Operation in North Waziristan? Not Likely,” Foreign Policy, April 17 2014. Available: http://southasia.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/04/17/a_military_operation_in_north_waziristan_not_likely
[11] “Action against militants: Army top brass calls for political ownership,” The Express Tribune, June 12, 2014. Available: http://tribune.com.pk/story/720638/army-top-brass-calls-for-political-ownership/
Additionally based on secondary-source reporting of conversations with top Pakistani military officials, spring and summer 2014.
“Hedging its bets: Army to act if TTP spurns talks,” The Express Tribune, January 13, 2014. Available: http://tribune.com.pk/story/658338/hedging-its-bets-army-to-act-if-ttp-spurns-talks/
[12] “TTP finalises 15 point draft for talks: sources,” Dawn News, February 09, 2014. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/1085920
“Unilateral ceasefire unacceptable, says TTP,” The News International, February 27, 2014. Available: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-28799-Unilateral-ceasefire-unacceptable-says-TTP
[13] “Army gets PM’s nod to take  down terrorists,” Pakistan Today, May 08, 2014. Available: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/05/08/national/army-gets-pms-nod-to-take-down-terrorists/
[14] “Pakistan jets strike insurgents in full-scale offensive,” Reuters, June 16, 2014. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/16/us-pakistan-airstrikes-idUSKBN0ER08R20140616
“Operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ gets a ‘thumbs up’ on social media,” Dawn News, June 15, 2014. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/1112911/operation-zarb-e-azb-gets-a-thumbs-up-on-social-media
[15] “The Karachi airport attack,” AEIdeas, June 9, 2014. Available: http://www.aei-ideas.org/2014/06/the-karachi-airport-attack/
[16] “Pakistan jets strike insurgents in full-scale offensive,” Reuters, June 16, 2014. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/16/us-pakistan-airstrikes-idUSKBN0ER08R20140616
“Operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ gets a ‘thumbs up’ on social media,” Dawn News, June 15, 2014. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/1112911/operation-zarb-e-azb-gets-a-thumbs-up-on-social-media
[16]“PM calls on nation to support army,” The Express Tribune, June 17, 2014. Available: http://tribune.com.pk/story/722869/pm-calls-on-nation-to-support-army/
[17] “Operation Zarb-e-Azb updates: Drone strike in Miranshah kills four,” Express Tribune, June 15, 2014. Available: http://tribune.com.pk/story/722202/army-launches-operation-in-north-waziristan/
[18] “The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in South Waziristan,” New America Foundation, April 2010. Available: http://www.operationspaix.net/DATA/DOCUMENT/4799~v~The_Battle_for_Pakistan___Militancy_and_Conflict_in_South_Waziristan.pdf
[19] “Al-Qaeda Isn’t ‘On Its Heels’,” AEI Critical Threats Project, May 27, 2014. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/alqaeda/jan-al-qaeda-isnt-on-its-heels-may-27-2014
“A Good Year for al Qaeda in Pakistan,” AEI Critical Threats Project, December 19, 2013. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/jan-a-good-year-for-al-qaeda-in-pakistan-december-19-2013
“A new definition for al-Qaeda,” The Washington Post, January 31, 2014. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-new-definition-for-al-qaeda/2014/01/31/31283002-83a7-11e3-9dd4-e7278db80d86_story.html
[20] “Al-Qaeda Isn’t ‘On Its Heels’,” AEI Critical Threats Project, May 27, 2014. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/alqaeda/jan-al-qaeda-isnt-on-its-heels-may-27-2014
“A Good Year for al Qaeda in Pakistan,” AEI Critical Threats Project, December 19, 2013. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/jan-a-good-year-for-al-qaeda-in-pakistan-december-19-2013
“A new definition for al-Qaeda,” The Washington Post, January 31, 2014. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-new-definition-for-al-qaeda/2014/01/31/31283002-83a7-11e3-9dd4-e7278db80d86_story.html
[21] “Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,” Mapping Militant Organizations, August 3, 2012. Available: http://www.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/215
“Evidence Mounts for Taliban Role in Bomb Plot,” The New York Times, May 5, 2010. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/nyregion/06bomb.html?_r=0
“Punjabi Taliban,” AEI Critical Threats Project, May 28, 2009. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/punjabi-taliban
[22] “Is he dead?,” The Economist, August 07, 2009. Available: http://www.economist.com/node/14201152
“Uzbek Militancy in Pakistan,” Centre for International and Strategic Analysis, February 04, 2013. Available: http://strategiskanalyse.no/publikasjoner%202013/2013-02-04_SISA1_Uzbek_Militancy_in_Pakistan_-_Syed_Manzar_Abbas_Zaidi.pdf
“80 killed as Pakistan bombs militants,” Nine MSN News: World, June 15, 2014. Available: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/2014/06/15/08/24/pakistani-jets-hit-insurgents
[22]“A backgrounder to the North Waziristan operation,” The Express Tribune, June 17, 2014. Available: http://tribune.com.pk/story/723114/a-backgrounder-to-the-north-waziristan-operation/
[23] “The Survivalist of North Waziristan: Hafiz Gul Bahadur Biography and Analysis,” AEI Critical Threats Project, August 6, 2009. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/survivalist-north-waziristan-hafiz-gul-bahadur-biography-and-analysis
[24] “The Survivalist of North Waziristan: Hafiz Gul Bahadur Biography and Analysis,” AEI Critical Threats Project, August 6, 2009. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/survivalist-north-waziristan-hafiz-gul-bahadur-biography-and-analysis
[25] “Pakistani Military Operation in North Waziristan: Knowing the Battlefield,” AEI Critical Threats Project, June 16, 2014. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/jan/pakistan-knowing-the-battlefield-military-operation-in-north-waziristan
“Tribe: Utmanzai Wazir, Aka: Utmanzai,” Program for Culture & Conflict Studies. Available: http://www.nps.edu/Programs/CCS/Docs/Pakistan/Tribes/Utmanzai.pdf
[26] “Gul Bahadur group asks people to leave N. Waziristan,” Dawn News, May 31, 2014. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/1109655
“Hafiz Gul Bahadur group extends ceasefire to June 20,” Dawn News, Jun 09, 2014. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/1111599
[27] “TTP Claims Credit for Raid at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi,” Monitoring Service Enterprise. Available: http://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Jihadist-News/ttp-claims-credit-for-raid-at-jinnah-international-airport-in-karachi.html
[28] “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat,” Institute for the Study of War, March 2012. Available: http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_StrategicThreatweb_29MAR_0.pdf
“The Haqqani Network: From Pakistan to Afghanistan,” Institute for the Study of War, October 2010. Available: http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Haqqani_Network_0.pdf
“The Haqqani Nexus and the Evolution of al-Qa’ida,” Combating Terrorism Center, 14 July 2011. Available: https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/CTC-Haqqani-Report_Rassler-Brown-Final_Web.pdf
[29] “Militants, families alike flee North Waziristan in fear of full-scale operation,” The Express Tribune, June 13, 2014. Available: http://tribune.com.pk/story/721263/militants-families-alike-flee-north-waziristan-in-fear-of-full-scale-operation/
[30] The Pakistan Army and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Frontier Corps (FC) split responsibilities for different tribal agencies; in some, such as Orakzai, the FC takes the lead and the army plays the supporting role. In North and South Waziristan, the army is the lead force. Based on author’s interviews with Pakistan Army and FC officials, Spring 2010.
[31] “Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani,” Dawn News, June, 28, 2012. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/730140/lieutenant-general-khalid-rabbani
[32] “NWA military commander changed,” The Nation, March 02, 2014.  Available: http://www.nation.com.pk/national/02-Mar-2014/nwa-military-commander-changed
[33] Based on author’s interviews of serving and retired Pakistani military officials, and with conversation with Director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council of the U.S., Shuja Nawaz.
“7th Infantry Division (Pakistan),” Wikipedia, March 07, 2014. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7th_Infantry_Division_(Pakistan)
[34] Based on author’s continuous tracking of Pakistan Army force presence in North Waziristan and conversations with Pakistani military officials, 2009-present.
[35] “The War in Waziristan: Operation Rah-e-Nijat - Phase 1 Analysis,” AEI Critical Threats Project, November 18, 2009. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/war-waziristan-operation-rah-e-nijat-phase-1-analysis
[36] “Walking with warriors: Dispatches from Waziristan,” Dawn News, December 22, 2013. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/1075596
[37] “The War in Waziristan: Operation Rah-e-Nijat - Phase 1 Analysis,” AEI Critical Threats Project, November 18, 2009. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/war-waziristan-operation-rah-e-nijat-phase-1-analysis
[38] Assessment based on historical deployment pattern of Pakistani military in Pakistan’s northwest since Pakistan began undertaking major operations in the tribal areas.
[39] “In Drive Against Militants, Pakistani Airstrikes Hit Strongholds,” The New York Times, June 16, 2014. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/17/world/asia/pakistan-hits-taliban-strongholds-with-airstrikes.html
[39]“Zarb-e-Azb Operation,” 120 suspected militants killed in N Waziristan,” Dawn News, June 14, 2014. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/1112909/pakistan-launches-operation-zarb-e-azb-in-n-waziristan
[39]“Pakistani Army in for long haul in offensive against Taliban,” Reuters, June 17, 2014. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/17/us-pakistan-airstrikes-offensive-idUSKBN0ES1A220140617
[40] “In Drive Against Militants, Pakistani Airstrikes Hit Strongholds,” The New York Times, June 16, 2014. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/17/world/asia/pakistan-hits-taliban-strongholds-with-airstrikes.html
[41] The operation in South Waziristan employed at least 40,000 army and FC troops; in North Waziristan the main unit is a bolstered infantry division, supported by FC forces, another division and separate brigade to its south and independent brigades to the east and northeast. Given the arguably more complex operation and similar scale and methodology to previous operations, and existing media estimates of force numbers, the author assesses no fewer than 30,000 troops will be employed for the operation.
[42] “The South Waziristan Agency: A Brief Status Report,” Centre for International and Strategic Analysis, April 2014. Available: http://strategiskanalyse.no/Publikasjoner%202014/2014-04-02_SISA%2021_SWaziristan_Tipu2.pdf
[43] Based on author’s own tracking and observations, as well as interviews with senior Pakistani military officers involved in counterinsurgency operations, Spring 2010.
[44] “Command and Structure [Pakistan Army Orbat],” PakDef.org. Available: http://pakdef.org/commandstructure/
[45] Based on author’s interviews with senior Pakistani military officers involved in counterinsurgency operations, Spring 2010.
[46] “Pakistani Army in for long haul in offensive against Taliban,” Reuters, June 17, 2014. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/17/us-pakistan-airstrikes-offensive-idUSKBN0ES1A220140617
[47] “Press Release No-PR125/2014-ISPR,” Inter Services Public Relations, June 15, 2014. Available: https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&id=2573
[48] “US drone attack kills six suspected militants in North Waziristan,” Dawn, 18 June, 2014. Available : http://www.dawn.com/news/1113523/us-drone-attack-kills-six-suspected-militants-in-north-waziristan
[50] “Press Release No PR125/2014-ISPR,” Inter Service Public Relations, June 15, 2014. Available: https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&id=2573  “Press “Release No PR126/2014-ISPR,” Inter Service Public Relations, June 15, 2014. Available: https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&id=2576
“Press Release No PR131/2014-ISPR,” Inter Service Public Relations, June 15, 2014. Available: https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&id=2581
“Press “Release No PR130/2014-ISPR,” Inter Service Public Relations, June 16, 2014. Available: https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&id=2577
[51] “North Waziristan empties out as foreigners flee,” AFP, June 13, 2014. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/1112503/north-waziristan-empties-out-as-foreign-fighters-flee
[52] Ibid
[53] Ibid
[54] “Press Release No PR131/2014-ISPR,” Inter Services Public Relations, June 17, 2014. Available: https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&id=2581
[55] Tim Craig and Shaiq Hussain, “Pakistan expands war with Taliban in North Waziristan,” Washington Post, June 16, 2014. Available:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pakistani-military-advances-against-taliban-positions-militants-warn-of-retaliation/2014/06/16/a7302552-f55d-11e3-8aa9-dad2ec039789_story.html?wprss=rss_asia-pacific
[57] Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Maria Golovnina, “Pakistan army in for long haul in offensive against Taliban,” Reuters, June 17, 2014. Available: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/06/17/uk-pakistan-airstrikes-offensive-idINKBN0ES1A620140617?feedType=RSS&feedName=southAsiaNews
[58] “Press Release No PR131/2014-ISPR,” Inter Service Public Relations, June 15, 2014. Available: https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&id=2581
[59] Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Maria Golovnina, “Pakistan army in for long haul in offensive against Taliban,” Reuters, June 17, 2014. Available: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/06/17/uk-pakistan-airstrikes-offensive-idINKBN0ES1A620140617?feedType=RSS&feedName=southAsiaNews
[60] Reza Jan, “Pakistani Military Operation in North Waziristan: Knowing the Battlefield,” Criticalthreats.org, June 16, 2014. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/jan/pakistan-knowing-the-battlefield-military-operation-in-north-waziristan#_edned6a1707d42aafad003a3a8ac179975011
[61] Kamran Yousaf, “Waziristan offensive likely in March,” Express Tribune, January 25, 2014. Available:  http://tribune.com.pk/story/663142/waziristan-offensive-likely-in-march/
Michael Kugelman, “Pakistan is Fighting Back Against Militants. Here’s Why it Might Not Win,” Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2014. Available: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/06/16/pakistan-is-fighting-back-against-militants-heres-why-it-may-not-win/
[62] “North Waziristan empties out as foreigners flee,” AFP, June 13, 2014. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/1112503
Michael Kugelman, “Pakistan is Fighting Back Against Militants. Here’s Why it Might Not Win,” Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2014. Available: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/06/16/pakistan-is-fighting-back-against-militants-heres-why-it-may-not-win/
[64] "ISAF forward operating bases handed back to Afghan government". AirForces Monthly (Stamford: Key Publishing). December 2013.
[64]“Curahees transfer FOB Salerno to ANA,” Dvids, June, 11, 2014. Available: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/116357/currahees-transfer-fob-salerno-ana#.U6GLC_ldWSp
“COP Spera closed, dismantled by ISAF,” Dvids, December 24, 2010. Available:  http://www.dvidshub.net/news/62553/cop-spera-closed-dismantled-isaf#.U6GLBPldWSp
[65] “Exclusive, CIA Falls Back in Afghanistan,” The Daily Beast, May 04, 2014. Available: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/04/exclusive-cia-falls-back-in-afghanistan.html
“Al-Qaeda Isn’t ‘On Its Heels’,” AEI Critical Threats Project, May 27, 2014. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/alqaeda/jan-al-qaeda-isnt-on-its-heels-may-27-2014
[66] “As Obama Draws Down, Al Qaeda Grows in Afghanistan,” The Daily Beast, May 29, 2014. Available:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/29/as-obama-draws-down-al-qaeda-grows-in-afghanistan.html
[67] “The Survivalist of North Waziristan: Hafiz Gul Bahadur Biography and Analysis,” AEI Critical Threats Project, August 6, 2009. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/survivalist-north-waziristan-hafiz-gul-bahadur-biography-and-analysis
[67]“Hafiz Gul Bahadur: A Profile of the Leader of the North Waziristan Taliban,” The Jamestown Foundation, April 10, 2009. Available: http://www.jamestown.org/programs/tm/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=34839&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=412&no_cache=1#.U6Fcs_ldXTo
[67]Michael Kugelman, “Pakistan is Fighting Back Against Militants. Here’s Why it Might Not Win,” Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2014. Available: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/06/16/pakistan-is-fighting-back-against-militants-heres-why-it-may-not-win/
[68] “Will Pakistan go all out against militants?” BBC News: Asia, June 16 2014. Available: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27870343
[69] Ibid.
[70] Ibid.
[71] “Trickling Home to South Waziristan,” AEI Critical Threats Project, December 10, 2010. Available: http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/trickling-home-south-waziristan-December-10-2010
[72]  “Influx of IDPs may be the next headache for Karachi,” The News International, June 16, 2014. Available: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-256200-Influx-of-IDPs-may-be-the-next-headache
[73] “IDPs won’t be allowed into Sindh,”
[74] “Gul Bahadur group http://tribune.com.pk/story/722202/army-launches-operation-in-north-waziristan/ asks people to leave N. Waziristan,” Dawn News, May 31, 2014. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/1109655
[75] "Fleeing tribesmen consider Afghanistan safer," Dawn News, May 31, 2014. Available: http://www.dawn.com/news/1112396
[76] Reza Jan, “Trickling Home to South Waziristan,” Foreign Policy, December 10, 2010. Available:  http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/trickling-home-south-waziristan-December-10-2010
[77] Ibid
[78] Based on author’s continuous tracking of militant groups in Pakistan since 2009 and analysis of groups using Palantir analytical database.
Michael Kugelman, “Pakistan is Fighting Back Against Militants. Here’s Why it Might Not Win,” Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2014. Available: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/06/16/pakistan-is-fighting-back-against-militants-heres-why-it-may-not-win/
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