Will Pakistan Start New Operation Under U.S. Pressure?
    2010-10-29 01:19:47     Xinhua      Web Editor: Yang Yang

Amid intensified drone attacks, the militants harboring in the North Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan threatened to slip into adjacent Afghanistan, in case a much-discussed military operation is launched against them. However the question, would Pakistan give in to the mounting U.S. pressure is looming large in the volatile murky regional scenario.

"Pakistan has never said no to it," Arshi Saleem, a senior research scholar at the Institute of Regional Affairs (IRS) in Islamabad, told Xinhua on Thursday.

"However, Pakistan has its own reasons from a strategic and logistic point of view, as when to go for it," said Saleem, an expert on the Afghan affairs and counter terrorism.

North Waziristan, the last bastion of Taliban is known to be unconquered due to its difficult terrain and resultant poor economy that makes its war lords vulnerable to moneyed foreign and local militants that have been seeking refuge there after escaping from South Waziristan.

The Mujahideen Shura of North Waziristan, a conglomerate of al- Qaeda firebrands of various nationalities, associated Taliban militants and various other disbanded independent non-state actors, had distributed a pamphlet on Sunday warning, "If the army starts another operation, we'll migrate to Afghanistan - But it will lead to an unending war in the region."

"The U.S. is looking forward that to happen," Saleem speculated arguing that it would create an excuse for the NATO to launch a fatal blow on Taliban before the imminent final windup in Afghanistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama had decided to start troop pullout from Afghanistan from July 2011. The decision came out after the top U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that their decade long military campaign in Afghanistan inflicted only minor scars on the Taliban and Haqqani network.

It signifies defeat of the U.S.-led NATO, ISAF forces in Afghanistan that was very much reflected in the recent statement of Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

However, to meet the possible fallout and for face-saving before American tax payers, the "bear trap" is being set for militants to fall prey into this "imminent operation" hypes. It is an attempt to justify multibillion dollars spending and for the body bags the coalition forces had been sending home since the ouster of Taliban government in 2001. This year alone 603 multinational troops have so far been killed in Afghanistan.

Americans have been asking Pakistan to encircle militants and block all avenues out from North Waziristan to lure the prey rush to its stronghold Kandahar in South Afghanistan. This would provide the NATO an opportunity to hit a final fatal blow to score a badly needed "significant achievement" for their own justification, analysts believe.

Under the prevailing scenario, Taliban would have no other option but to flock in Kandahar as they would not be welcomed in any neighboring country. But on the other hand, possibility of cornered militants penetrating deep into Pakistani urban centers with their effective "tactical weapon" of suicide bombing is quite certain. However, the Pakistani security apparatus can take care of it once the militants become too painful, analysts say.

In view of a fresh 2 billion dollar military aid to Pakistan, a military operation is very much on the cards in North Waziristan, which the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen calls an "epicenter of terrorism."

The Pakistani top brass gave an affirmative nod for a possible military operation in North Waziristan in March during the first round of Pakistan-U.S. Strategic Dialogues in Washington, D.C.. But, Pakistani military Chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani had declined a "steamroller" operation for the country's own considerations.

"No immediate operation by Pakistan," despite an in-principle agreement on the issue, remarked Prof. Hasan Askari, a security analyst.

In view of weakening U.S. economy and Obama's lowering popularity graph, the U.S. is desperately craving for earning a glittering trophy to take home as face-saving before American tax payers and justify decade long multibillion dollars "misadventure" with no significant achievement.

Pakistan has its own strategic and logistic considerations. Because, analysts argue, strategically Pakistan is still interested in keeping good terms with the Haqqani network and other lesser evils to uphold its prime national interests high.

"Hence Pakistan never wants to compromise its strategic relations with the Haqqani network or similar other groups who possibly would have a say in future Afghan affairs," Saleem said.

The Pakistani military is badly stretched between its eastern borders with archrival India, fighting war against terror in the northwest Afghan border. It has also diligently been engaged in rescue and relief operations and now reconstructing the damage caused by two months of devastating floods.

According to reports, the total 19 divisions of over half a million Pakistani military, 8 divisions are currently engaged in counter-terrorism. Its two divisions are in South Waziristan, one or two in North Waziristan, two in Swat and Dir and other areas fighting the homegrown militancy.

"I hope not! We are not ready at this time," former Pakistani top brass Major General (Retired) Jamshed Ayaz told Xinhua on Thursday, as the Pakistani military has so far not agreed to launch a full scale operation in North Waziristan, a major irritant in prevailing Pakistan-U.S. relations that would still be there as the snowball rolls on.



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