Thursday, October 18, 2007

Musharraf going for broke in Waziristan?

According to the Asia Times that's the situation on the ground... I guess the recent Hudna had a purpose after all.
According to the security official, an ultimatum had been delivered to the militants recently during a temporary ceasefire. The army would set a deadline and give safe passage into Afghanistan to all al-Qaeda members and Taliban commanders who had gathered in Waziristan to launch a large-scale post-Ramadan operation in Afghanistan. They, along with wanted tribal warrior leaders, would all leave Pakistan, and never return.

After their departure, under the direct command and surveillance of newly appointed Vice Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani (who will replace President-elect Pervez Musharraf as Chief of Army Staff), fresh troops and paramilitary forces would be sent in to establish bases at all strategic points and disarm the local tribes.

The Durand Line (the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan) would be fenced and border controls would be tightened.

The militants rejected the ultimatum.

Why we should care.
A qualified estimate by intelligence officials is that Pakistani military pacification of the Waziristans would slash the capability of the Afghan resistance by 85% as well as deliver a serious setback to the Iraqi resistance.
Why the terrorists care.
The militants have little option but to stand and fight, rather than slip across the border or melt into the local population. Aside from the sanctuary and succor afforded them in the Waziristans, most of the fighters there are either Waziris, or from other parts of Pakistan, or foreigners.

They would be unable to support themselves in Afghanistan, especially as most of the non-Waziris do not speak Pashtu - a fact that also prevents them from disappearing into the Waziristan populace.

Their presence in the Waziristans also has a direct bearing on their funding: money can be transferred through bank and non-bank channels, including the informal fund transfer system known as "hawala".

What it could mean.
If the planned battle is successful and Waziristan is pacified, the global Islamic resistance would be back where it was in 2003, when it had fighters but no centralized command or bases to carry out organized operations, said a Pakistani security official. "As a result, the guerrilla operations were sporadic and largely ineffective."

The safety of Taliban and al-Qaeda assets in Waziristan is a matter of life and death and, therefore, the militants have devised a forward strategy to target the Pakistani cities of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, hoping to break the will of the Pakistani armed forces. The Pakistani military, meanwhile, is trying to break the will of the militants with ongoing bombing raids.

Underscoring the seriousness with which the military is planning for the coming battle, it is reported that Shi'ite soldiers from northern Pakistan are being sent to the Waziristans. In the past, the Pakistani Army has been plagued by desertions of Pashtun and Sunni troops who refuse to fight fellow Pashtuns or Sunnis.