Following the deadly attack on a volleyball game that killed 99 people in the remote northwest of Pakistan, the country’s military leadership has decided to expand it’s operations to North Waziristan, multiple sources in Islamabad and Washington DC told us today.
A Pakistani village that tried to resist Taliban infiltration was struck with grief in an apparent revenge suicide bombing at an outdoor volleyball game. The village lies in Lakki Marwat district near South Waziristan, a semi-autonomous tribal region where the army has battled the Pakistani Taliban since October.
“Government of Pakistan is under tremendous pressure. They have to take the war of terror to wherever insurgents are hiding,” said a source privy to Islamabad’s decision.
The American media has been reporting that Pakistan is not willing to take the fight to North Waziristan insinuating that there is a divergence of interests. Quoting American officials, LA Times and AP reported last week that the Obama administration is frustrated with Pakistan military’s strategy of going after Taliban in only selective areas.
Americans wanted the Pakistan army to expand operations into North Waziristan to dismantle the Haqqani network. The Pakistan military was gearing up to drive militants from the surrounding tribal regions of Kurram, Orakzai and Khyber – areas that Taliban are using to assemble and re-launch.
Pakistan has been reluctant to open multiple fronts because of the lack of manpower and equipment. Approximately 30,000 soldiers were engaged in South Waziristan and prior to that in the Swat Valley.
Military operations in the Swat valley and later in South Waziristan drove Taliban to surrounding tribal regions of Orakzai and Khurram. In the last weeks of 2009 the Pakistan airforce had increased the velocity of airstrikes in those areas to prevent militants from establishing new bases.
Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gillani had also announced that the next deployment of ground troops will target Orakzai.
“Contrary to how it was portrayed in the American media, Pakistan army’s operation and tactical decisions are based on immediate threats, resource availability and possibility of success,” said a Pakistani official on condition of anonymity. “It is irresponsible to think that we are not going after any particular network of Taliban,” he said referring to reports that Pakistan does not want to go after the Haqqani network.
But due to the recent spate of violence Pakistan army has changed its plan and North Waziristan operation will began shortly.