Battle of Bajaur
|Battle of Bajaur (Operation Sherdil)|
|Part of the War in North-West Pakistan|
Pakistan Air Force
|Commanders and leaders|
|Col Nauman Saeed|| Faqir Mohammed
Abu Saeed Al-Masri
26th Infantry Brigade
|Casualties and losses|
5 captured (Army)
176+ killed (tribesmen)
|150 civilians killed
The Battle of Bajaur or Operation Sherdil was a military offensive in the Bajaur region of Pakistan launched by the Frontier Corps and 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, including Kunar province. Bajaur is now cleared of Taliban.
Ambush in Bajaur
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. Previously, militants loyal to the Tehrik-e-Taliban, the so-called Pakistani Taliban held control of the area. Loyesam (or Loisam) is a strategic position that controls 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. After a three-day battle the Pakistani troops retreated from Loyesam back to Khaar, and the Taliban seemed victorious.
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. 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.
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. The Army suffered 82 killed. 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. 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.
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. On 25 October, the Pakistan Army reported that they had recaptured Loi Sam from the Taliban. In Bajaur itself by 25 October 500 militants were reported to have been killed. 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.
|This article is outdated. (March 2012)|
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.
Defeat of the Taliban
On 28 February 2009, 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 1,800 militants while losing 97 of their own soldiers and another 404 soldiers seriously injured.
Maj Gen. Tariq Khan
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.
Brig. Abid Mumtaz
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.Now Major General. Led another operation, Khyber 2 in Tirah Valley in 2015.
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 annihilation 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 brave soldiers who served with them.
Battalion Commanders (Operation Sherdil).
Battalion commanders who served in operation sherdil and made the operation a resounding success were:-
- Lt Col Baloch & Lt Col Munawar
- Lt Col Anjum Saleem, Lt Col Nadir Khan, Lt Col Rashid
- 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.
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.
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