Battle of Bajaur

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For the 1519 battle, see Battle of Bajaur (1519).
Battle of Bajaur (Operation Sherdil)
Part of the War in North-West Pakistan
Date 7 August 2008 – 28 February 2009 (205 days)
Location Bajaur, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan
Result Pakistan Defence Forces decisive victory
  • Successful capture of the city
  • Taliban Forces were eliminated from the city
  • Failure to kill or capture Taliban Commander Faqir Mohammed.
  • Destruction of Al-Qaeda's Command and Control hub.
  • Execution of Al-Qaeda's main leader Saeed al-Masri.
Belligerents
Pakistan State of Pakistan

 Pakistan Army
 Pakistan Air Force

TTP,
Al-Qaeda
TNSM
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg MG Tariq Khan[1]

Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg B.Gen. Abid Mumtaz

Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Col Nauman Saeed

Faqir Mohammed
Abu Saeed Al-Masri 
Units involved
Frontier Corps
26th Infantry Brigade
Strength
9,000–15,000[1] ~4,000[1]
Casualties and losses
97 killed
404 wounded
5 captured (Army)[2][3]
176+ killed (tribesmen)[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]
1,500 killed
2,000 wounded
150 civilians killed[13][14]
2,000 wounded

The Battle of Bajaur or Operation Sherdil was a military offensive in the Bajaur region of Pakistan launched by the Frontier Corps supported by a Combat Brigade of the Pakistan Army. The Bajaur area had been under Taliban control since early 2007, and was said to be Al-Qaeda's main command and control hub for operations in Northeast Afghanistan,[15] including Kunar province.[16] Bajaur is now cleared of Taliban.[17]

Ambush in Bajaur[edit]

In early August 2008, a post was established by the Frontier Corps to take control of the border crossing near the town of Loyesam, 12 km from Khaar, the Bajaur Agency administration headquarters,[18] from militants loyal to the Tehrik-e-Taliban, the so-called Pakistani Taliban.[19] Loyesam (or Loisam) is a strategic position that controls the passage into Afghanistan's Kunar province. The 150-strong force drawn from the paramilitary Frontier Corps were surrounded by several hundred Taliban fighters, and heavy fighting erupted as they tried to break out.[15] After a three-day battle the Pakistani troops retreated from Loyesam back to Khaar, and the Taliban seemed victorious.[20][21]

Operation Sherdil[edit]

However, several days later the Frontier Corps began a large-scale offensive under the command of Major-General Tariq Khan, codenamed Operation Sherdil (Lionheart), with the objective of regaining control of Bajaur from the Taliban.[22] About 8,000 troops belonging to the FC and Army were involved, backed by Cobra attack helicopters and fighter jets that pounded Taliban holdouts. To support the Army, Pakistan Air Force responded with aggressive air campaigns. Pakistani military sources indicate that the army has been surprised by the resistance the insurgents have been putting up. The Taliban have been using advanced tactics, fighting from prepared defenses.[23]

By the end of the year the Army claimed to have killed more than 1,000 militants, including the local Al-Qaeda commander, an Egyptian called Abu Saeed Al-Masri.[24] The Army suffered 82 killed.[25] The Pakistani army has also encouraged local tribes to rise against the Taliban, by raising lashkars (tribal militias) to fight alongside the government forces. The Salarzai tribe, that reportedly counts 4,000 armed fighters, responded favourably to this initiative.[1] On 7 October, the Salarzai elders announced that they had cleared their tribal territory of militants, and requested the deployment of government troops to consolidate the gains they had made.[26]

According to several sources, the 20 September Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing may have been carried out in retaliation for the military offensive in Bajaur.[23]

On 8 October, during a briefing to the Parliament, the military announced that 2,744 militants, including 321 foreigners, had been killed and 1,400 injured since the start of the operation in the whole of Pakistan.[27] On 25 October, the Pakistan Army reported that they had recaptured Loi Sam from the Taliban.[28] In Bajaur itself by 25 October 500 militants were reported to have been killed.[29] By the end of 2008 security forces were in control of the main road Torghudai, Nawagai, Uttmankhel Area and Salarzai Area. By mid 2009, the Security forces controlled bulk of Mamond and Chahrmang valleys as well.The final operation was launched in February 2010 with fresh re-enforcements to mop up the last pockets of militants including the notorious Damadola stronghold and finally Bajaur was declared clear in March 2010. Completion of kinetic operations resulted in massive surrenders and beginning of Cordon and Search Operations.

Strategic significance[edit]

Opinions by military leaders during the early stages of the battle asserted it to be a deciding showdown in Pakistan's war against Taliban forces. Military officials allegedly said the conflict "could decide the fate of other tribal areas" with Bajaur possibly being the most important militant stronghold outside of Waziristan. An influx of Taliban fighters from the Kunar Province across the border in Afghanistan, diverting resources from the battle there against the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), was seen as a further sign of the defining nature of the battle.[23]

Defeat of the Taliban[edit]

On 28 February 2009,[30] the Security Forces finally defeated the Taliban and other Islamist militants in Bajaur, which was a strategically important region on the Afghan border. Major-General Tariq Khan, who was commanding the military operations in five of the seven agencies, said the Army and the Frontier Corps had killed most militants in Bajaur, the smallest of the agencies but a major infiltration route into Afghanistan, after a six-month offensive. By the time the six-month long battle in Bajaur was over, the Pakistan Army killed over 1,500 militants while losing 97 of their own soldiers and another 404 soldiers seriously injured.[31]

Leadership[edit]

Maj Gen. Tariq Khan[edit]

Gen. Tariq Khan served as the Inspector General of the Frontier Corps during Operation Sherdil. He is known as the architect of the Battle of Bajaur. He is largely credited with transforming the Frontier Corps into a highly efficient and professional counter terrorism force. He personally supervised all operations in Bajaur. His physical presence at the forward most positions during critical stages of the battle was an inspiration for the junior leaders and a morale booster for the troops.[32]

Brig. Abid Mumtaz[edit]

Brigadier Abid Mumtaz, served as the Officer commanding of Operation Sherdil in Bajaur. A commander noted for leading his troops from the front. He demonstrated an example of his dedication to service on 9 September 2008, when the leading force under his command reached Rashakai the line of communication was disrupted by the militants at Nissarabad, he chose to remain with the forward troops and physically led the forward forces in all link up attempts for 15 days, falling back to his headquarters only when the line of communication was restored. He was awarded for his gallant actions.

Brig. Zafar-Ul-Haq.[edit]

Brigadier Zafar-ul-Haq replaced Brig Abid Mumtaz on 24 February 2010. Brigadier Zafar-ul-Haq, is a chivalrous and brave commander who has launched numerous operations for final annihlation of Taliban phenomenon from Bajaur. He ensured expansion of security forces in every part of Bajaur. Brigadier Zafar-Ul-Haq has pushed the Taliban quite back away from the locals areas and has insured safety for the local people. Now Bajaur is completely free of Talibans because of the work that Brig Abid Mumtaz, Brig Zafar-Ul-Haq and all the other men who served with them.

Battalion Commanders (Operation Sherdil).[edit]

Battalion commanders who served in operation sherdil and made the operation a resounding success were:-

  1. Lt Col Baloch & Lt Col Munawar
  2. Lt Col Anjum Saleem, Lt Col Nadir Khan, Lt Col Rashid
  3. Lt Col Asad, Lt Col Ali, Lt Col Amjad

It was the dedicated and unflinching faith of these commanders in their cause that the most resilient and tenacious Al-Qaeda and Taliban elements were defeatead and annihilated from the restive Valley of Bajuar.[citation needed]

Col.Nauman Saeed[edit]

Colonel Nauman Saeed, served as the operations commandant in Bajaur, he was posted in and was due to assume command on 14 August 2008. However owing to extraordinary operational circumstances he had to leave for Bajaur on 6 August 2008. A party sent to set up a post at Loesam was surrounded by miscreants, Col. Nauman Saeed led a link up force on 8 August 2008 after a failed attempt to link up the previous day. The troops were ambushed at Tankhatta where they fought back and held their positions for over 8 hours against well entrenched militants to facilitate successful ex-filtration of the party surrounded at Loesam.

In another incident, the convoy of Inspector-General Frontier Corps Major-General Tariq Khan was ambushed on 9 September 2009 at Nissarabad. Col. Nauman went back to the ambush site with a tank and a Quick Response Force to extricate the crew of a vehicle that had been disabled by militant fire. In the process, the Colonel's tank received multiple hits by RPG-7s, his operator received a bullet injury yet they were able to punish the ambush site and successfully extricate the stranded vehicle along with the soldiers. The colonel has been decorated.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Hussain, Zahid (30 September 2008). "Pakistan Turns to Tribal Militias". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008. 
  2. ^ AFP: Pakistan in victory over Taliban in border area: commander. Google.com (28 February 2009). Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  3. ^ http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/Dawn%20Content%20Library/dawn/news/pakistan/nwfp/taliban-release-five-soldiers-in-khar--bi
  4. ^ http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=57588
  5. ^ http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=57457
  6. ^ Karachi News. Karachipage.com. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Article. Rantburg.com (14 October 2008). Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  9. ^ 22 tribesmen killed in suicide attack on local jirga in Bajaur – Thaindian News. Thaindian.com (7 November 2008). Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  10. ^ ‘Regular troops deployed at Afghan border’. Thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  11. ^ Archive | Your Source of News on the World Wide Web. Dawn.Com. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  12. ^ Leading News Resource of Pakistan. Daily Times (30 December 2008). Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  13. ^ [2][dead link]
  14. ^ [3][dead link]
  15. ^ a b Roggio, Bill (10 August 2008). "Pakistani troops retreat after Taliban onslaught in Bajaur". The Long War Journal. Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  16. ^ Gall, Carlotta (14 July 2008). "9 Americans Die in Afghan Attack". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  17. ^ Dawn news: Key Taliban complex captured in Bajaur. Dawn.com. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  18. ^ Khan, Hasbanullah (AFP) (8 August 2008). "Bajaur battle kills 10 troops, 25 militants". Daily Times. Retrieved 24 August 2008. 
  19. ^ Cogan, James (23 August 2008). "Military offensive displaces 300,000 in north-west Pakistan". World Socialist Web Site. Archived from the original on 26 August 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2008. 
  20. ^ Jane Perlez, Pir Zubair Shah (10 August 2008). "Taliban Force Pakistani Troops From Tribal Area". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 August 2008. 
  21. ^ Khan, Habib (10 August 2008). "Pakistani forces bomb houses near Afghan border". Associated Press. Retrieved 10 August 2008. [dead link]
  22. ^ Lakshman, Kanchan (13 August 2008). "The Battle for Bajaur". South Asia Intelligence Review. Retrieved 14 August 2008. [dead link]
  23. ^ a b c Gall, Carlotta; Khan, Ismail (22 September 2008). "Battle of Bajaur: A critical test for Pakistan's military". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 26 September 2008. Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  24. ^ "Battle of Bajaur a crucial test for Pakistan". AFP. 27 September 2008. Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  25. ^ [4][dead link]
  26. ^ Anwarullah, Khan (7 October 2008). "Bajaur areas cleared of militants, claim elders: Deployment of security men sought". Dawn. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 9 October 2008. [dead link]
  27. ^ Bano, Masooda (14 October 2008). "Briefing parliament". The News International. Retrieved 14 October 2008. 
  28. ^ http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5hZu3Qpjdvqh8valFIKmIDGT_F_dg[dead link]
  29. ^ [5][dead link]
  30. ^ Talibowie stracili prowincję Badżur rp.pl
  31. ^ Troops defeat Taliban in Pakistan’s Bajaur region. Indian Express (1 March 2009). Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  32. ^ Archive | Your Source of News on the World Wide Web. Dawn.Com. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  33. ^ http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/military-awards-announced-589rp.pl