Sunday, January 27, 2008




"Of the 56 attacks during 2007, 23 were in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), 21 in the NWFP, including four in the Swat Valley,nine in Punjab, two in Balochistan and one in Sindh. Of the 23 in the FATA, only two were in North Waziristan and one in the Bajaur Agency,where, according to the US, the terrorist infrastructure of Al Qaeda is located. The remaining 20 were in South Waziristan, where there areno confirmed reports of any Al Qaeda infrastructure. All the attacks in South Waziristan came from areas which are controlled by theMehsuds. In the areas controlled by other tribes, there were no incidents of suicide terrorism. Two cantonments saw repeated suicidestrikes--- Rawalpindi (5), where the General Headquarters of the Army are located, and Kohat (3) in the NWFP where a training centre formiddle-level army officers is located. " Extract from my article of January 14,2008. titled "Suicide Terrorism In Pakistan--2007" at -----------------------------------------------

The Pakistan Army has been forced by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) headed by Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan to wage afour-front "war"----- against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in South Waziristan, against theTehrik and the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) in the sensitive Darra Adam Khel---Kohat area of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)and the Shia-dominated Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA),and against theTehrik-e-Nifaz-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) headed by Maulana Fazlullah and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) in the Swat Valley of the NWFP.

2. The fresh wave of fighting in the Kurram Agency, which started on November 15,2007, has since subsided following a peace agreementsigned by the leaders of the local Shia and Sunni communities. The Afghan Sunnis living in the area, who had fled into Afghanistan followingfierce attacks on them by the Shias, have started returning to their homes. The peace agreement is holding and there have been no reportsof any fresh violence for over a week now.

3. The Army has claimed to have defeated the TNSM, which is helped by the JEM, in the Swat Valley. Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the Chief ofthe Army Staff (COAS), had also visited the Valley last week to congratulate the army troops and para-military forces, which had participatedin the operations. However, reports from reliable police sources say that the forces of Fazlullah and the JEM have dispersed and moved intohill tops, but have not been defeated. Fazlullah and his senior officers have not been captured, but their houses or hide-outs have beenblown up by helicopter gunships of the Army. His FM radio station continues to broadcast, but not as regularly as before. While the TNSMand the JEM are no longer fighting pitched battles against the Army and the Frontier Corps as they were doing earlier, they continue toindulge in sporadic guerilla attacks against military vehicles and outposts.

4. Despite the use of air and artillery strikes and commando actions by three plus platoons of the Special Services Group (SSG) onsuspected hide-outs of Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, his forces, helped by men of IMU, have managed to keep up their attacks onthe Army, including the SSG, and the Frontier Corps units. Among the dead bodies so far recovered from the various scenes of the fighting inSouth Waziristan are those of over a dozen Mehsuds, six Uzbeks, one Tajik and one Uighur. There are no reports of any Arab involvement inthe fighting in South Waziristan. Interestingly, Al Qaeda, the IMU and the Neo Taliban have refrained from creating any difficulties for thePakistan Army in North Waziristan. There has been only one minor incident in North Waziristan. This has enabled the Army to shift some ofits forces from North to South Waziristan. Taliban elements have warned that if the Army continues to use its forces in North Waziristan tokill the Mehsuds, they will attack the Army and FC posts in North Waziristan.

5. The Darra-Adam Khel-Kohat area of the NWFP, which had seen unchecked infiltration by pro-Al Qaeda elements, including the TTP and theLEJ, duruing the last five years when the religious fundamentalist coalition called the Muttahida- Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) was in power inPeshawar, has seen heavy fighting between the Army and the FC on the one side and the TTP and the LEJ on the other. The flare-up startedafter the TTP and LEJ, acting jointly, seized on January 24,2008, four private trucks transporting arms and ammunition from Peshawar to the Pakistani forces in South Waziristan as they were passing through the Japanese-constructed Kohat Tunnel and captured control of theTunnel.

6. There was panic in the Corps and FC headquarters in Peshawar when it was reported that some tribal cadets of the Army Cadet College in the Kohat Cantonment had joined the TTP and the LEJ and helped them in seizing the trucks and capturing control of the Tunnel. Policesources say that like the Rawalpindi Cantonment, the Kohat Cantonment too has been heavily infiltrated by Al Qaeda, Taliban, the LEJ, theJEM and other jihadi elements. These sources also say that during the five years of MMA rule, large areas of the NWFP were heavily infiltrated by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements and they could anytime capture control of the Kohat Cantonment without difficulty.

7. The seriousness with which the Army viewed the developments in the Darra Adam Khel--Kohat area would be evident from the fact that itrushed 20 tanks to the area to re-capture the Tunnel and the seized trucks. The army has claimed to have re-captured the Tunnel onJanuary 27,2008, but this has been denied by the TTP, which claims that the Tunnel is still under its control.

8. A report that Mulla Mohammasd Omar, the Amir of the Neo Taliban, has sacked Baitullah Mehsud for fighting against the Pakistan army,which was disseminated by a Pakistani journalist, has not been corroborated. The reports are that Baitullah Mehsud continues to operateunder the over-all guidance of Serjuddin Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Afghan Mujahideen leader of 1980s vintage, who is nowreportedly in poor health.

9. The demands of the TTP and the TNSM continue to be the same, namely, suspension of all military operations in the tribal areas;withdrawal of army posts from the FATA; release of all tribals arrested under the Anti-Terrorism Act; release of Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghaziand tribal students arrested during the Commando action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007 and enforcement of the Sharia in thetribal areas.. (28-1-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-Mail: )