Pakistan's Campaign against the Taliban in FATA
By Bobby Ghosh / Washington, TIME, Aug. 28, 2009
Despite strenuous entreaties by top U.S. officials, Pakistan has abandoned plans to mount a military offensive against the terrorist group responsible for a two-year campaign of suicide bombings across the country. Although the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been in disarray since an Aug. 5 missile strike from a CIA-operated drone killed its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani military has concluded that a ground attack on its strongholds in South Waziristan would be too difficult.
The Pakistani military has choked off main roads leading out of South Waziristan, and the country's fighter jets have been pounding targets from the air (an operation Islamabad insists it will continue). But that falls short of the military campaign the U.S. desires. Instead, Pakistani authorities are hoping to exploit divisions within the TTP to prize away some factions, while counting on the CIA's drones to take out Baitullah's successors.
(See pictures of refugees fleeing the fighting in Pakistan's Swat Valley.)
U.S. counterterrorism officials worry that a failure to capitalize on the post-Baitullah confusion within the TTP will allow its new leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, to consolidate his position and reorganize the group. Officials in Washington say special envoy Richard Holbrooke and NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal have pressed the Pakistanis to strike while the iron is hot. But after initial promises to launch a ground offensive in South Waziristan, the Pakistanis have backed off.
A top Pakistani general, Nadeem Ahmed, recently said preparation for such an operation could take up to two months. Now there will be no ground assault at all, according to a senior Pakistani politician known to have strong military ties. Instead, the politician tells TIME, the military will try to buy off some TTP factions through peace deals.
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US Irked as Pakistan Stalls South Waziristan Offensive - antiwar.com
Pakistan Taliban claim suicide attack - AFP
TTP under Hakeemullah will remain a threat - DT
12 ‘foreign militants’ arrested from DG Khan - DT
Al-Qaeda leader: Pakistan is the main battleground - Telegraph, UK