Insurgency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
|War in North-West Pakistan|
|Part of the Global War on Terrorism and the|
spillover of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
Military situation in February 2016:
|Commanders and leaders|
Arif Alvi (2018–present)
Mamnoon Hussain (2013–18)
Asif Ali Zardari (2008–13)
Pervez Musharraf (2004–08)
Imran Khan (2018–present)
Nawaz Sharif (2013–2017)
Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (2012–13)
Yousaf Raza Gillani (2008–12)
Shaukat Aziz (2004–07)
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (2004)
Zafarullah Khan Jamali (2004)
Zubair Hayat (2016–present)
Rashad Mahmood (2013–16)
Shameem Wynne (2010–13)
Tariq Majid (2007–10)
Ehsan ul Haq (2004–07)
Aziz Khan (2004)
Qamar Bajwa (2016–present)
Raheel Sharif (2013–16)
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (2007–13)
Pervez Musharraf (2004–07)
Zaheerul Islam (2012–14)
Shuja Pasha (2008–12)
Nadeem Taj (2007–08)
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (2004–07)
Ehsan ul Haq (2004)
Donald Trump (2017–present)
Barack Obama (2009–17)
George W. Bush (2004–09)
Boris Johnson (2019–present)
Theresa May (2016–19)
David Cameron (2010–16)
Gordon Brown (2007–10)
Tony Blair (2004–07)
Usman Ghazi †
Tohir Yuldashev †
Najmiddin Jalolov †
Abu Usman Adil †
Mirzazhanov Atoyevich (WIA)
U.S. Special Forces
|Casualties and losses|
15 soldiers killed(2010)
Over 3.44 million civilians displaced(2009)Over 6 million civilians displaced (2003–2019)
The insurgency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, also known as the War in North-West Pakistan, is an armed conflict involving Pakistan, and armed militant groups such as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jundallah, Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI), TNSM, al-Qaeda, and their Central Asian allies such as the ISIL–Khorasan (ISIL), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, East Turkistan Movement, Emirate of Caucasus, and elements of organized crime.
The armed conflict began in 2004 when tensions rooted in the Pakistan Army's search for al-Qaeda fighters in Pakistan's mountainous Waziristan area (in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas) escalated into armed resistance. Pakistan's actions were presented as its contribution to the international War on Terror. Clashes further erupted between unified Pakistan Armed Forces and the Central Asian militant groups, allied with the Arab fighters, in 2008–10. The foreign militants were joined by Pakistani non-military veterans of the Afghan War to the west, which subsequently established the TTP and other militant umbrella organizations, such as LeI. The TNSM established in 1992 allied with the TTP and LeI.
The war depleted the country's manpower resources, and the outcomes outlined a deep effect on its national economy, since Pakistan had joined the USA-led War on Terror. According to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) statistics and mathematical data survey collections, the economy has suffered direct and indirect losses of up to ~$67.93 billion since 2001 due to its role as a "frontline state." According to the MoF-issued Pakistan Economic Survey 2010–11, "Pakistan has never witnessed such a devastating social and economic upheaval in its industry, even after dismemberment of the country by a direct war with India in 1971."
By 2014, the casualty rates from terrorism in the country as a whole dropped by 40% as compared to 2011–13, with even greater drops noted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa despite the province being the site of a large massacre of schoolchildren by TTP terrorists in December 2014. A year later in 2015, Forbes cited Pakistan's "progress on the security front and the increased political stability" among other factors to call it the next "global turnaround success story."
In 2016, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated that the ultimate aim was to establish the writ of the Constitution of Pakistan on every square kilometer of Pakistan, right to the very last border post. Violence decreased in some cases by up to 75%. In the last two years [from 2011] due to Karachi operation and the North Waziristan operation launched by the Pakistani military, prompting analysts to say Pakistan is winning the war on terror.
- 1 Names for the war
- 2 Background
- 3 Fighting breaks out
- 4 Transition in Tribal areas: 2005–06
- 5 Insurgency in the north, 2007
- 6 Escalation, air and ground war
- 6.1 Operation Zalzala
- 6.2 Peace agreement and Bajaur offensive
- 6.3 Tribal tension with TTP and US support for tribes
- 6.4 Islamabad Marriott Hotel Bombing
- 6.5 Renewed Bajaur offensive
- 6.6 Intensified drone strikes and border skirmishes with United States
- 6.7 Militants targeting of tribes
- 6.8 Fighting for the NATO supply lines
- 7 Public support and unified military operations
- 8 Continued insurgency
- 8.1 Insurgency in West and defeat of Taliban: 2010–11
- 8.2 Death of Bin Laden and Navy offensive
- 8.3 Tirah Valley clashes
- 8.4 Operation Rah-e-Shahadat
- 8.5 Disengagement of militant groups
- 8.6 North Waziristan offensive
- 8.7 Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan infighting
- 8.8 Operation Zarb-e-Azb
- 8.9 Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad
- 9 Peace prospects and developments
- 10 Casualties
- 11 Issues with War Veterans
- 12 Popular culture
- 13 United States role
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 Further reading
- 17 External links
Names for the war
Various names have been applied to the conflict by the authors and historians. Names used in English include: Insurgency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, War in North-West Pakistan, Waziristan War, or the War in Waziristan. On the other hand, political scientist, Farrukh Saleem, termed the war as the "Fourth Generation War" or the "4G War".
In the aftermath of Battle of Tora Bora (lit. Black Caves), formal troop deployment was begun by the Pakistan Army, at the behest of the Pakistan Government, in 2002. The conservative parties, most notably the Pakistan Muslim League, were very critical of such troop deployments in the region. The XI Corps, under its commander Lieutenant-General Jan Aurkzai, entered the Tirah Valley in the Khyber Agency for the first time since Pakistan's independence in 1947. The army troops later moved into the Shawal Valley of North Waziristan, eventually entering South Waziristan. A monitoring reconnaissance base was established by the Special Service Group [Navy] in 2003. Criticism of Musharraf and the United States grew in Peshawar by a massive communist party in 2003, demanding an end to the operations.
In 2003, the troubles mounted as the Tribes began to see military's deployment and repeated PAF's flights in the region as an act of subjugation. In 2003–04 public speeches, Musharraf repeatedly called for the eviction of the foreign fighters from the South Waziristan and justified the army deployments in the region despite the concerns. In December 2003, at least two assassination attempts against President Pervez Musharraf were traced to South Waziristan. The government responded by intensifying military pressure on the area. However, the fighting was costly: government forces sustained heavy casualties throughout 2004 and into early 2005, when the government switched to a tactic of negotiation instead of direct conflict.
Fighting breaks out
On 16 March 2004, a bloody mountainous battle between the Pakistan Army troops and the foreign fighters of al-Qaeda was fought in the White Mountains of South Waziristan. The Pakistani media speculated that Pakistan Army had surrounded a "high value target" in the mountainous region, possibly al-Qaeda's then-second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri. According to the military intelligence in 2004, all militants were Chechens, Uzbeks, and Tajiks who were trying to flee Black Caves (Tora Bora of Afghanistan). After a week of the battle, the entire area was captured and as many as 400 al-Qaeda operatives were apprehended by the Pakistan Army. In spite of its success, the army failed to capture Zawahiri. The ISPR later admitted that it was Soviet Uzbek Tohir Yo'ldosh who was surrounded, not Zawahiri.
By 2004, additional battalions were stationed by General Musharraf to help curb infiltration into Pakistan through its porous border. The Military Intelligence, Covert Action Division (CAD) and army troops found many caves and tunnels in White Mountain range used by the foreign fighters before the military action took place. The Military Intelligence accounts maintained that the tunnels were led into Afghanistan, possible Tora Bora region. Though it is difficult to know how effective the cordon was on the first night of the military suspension but the military intelligence accounts did confirm that many high-value foreign fighters might have escaped through these tunnels and caves back to Afghanistan.
On 7 October 2004, Musharraf approved the appointment of his close aide, General Ehsan-ul-Haq from ISI, who superseded seven colleagues; his appointment was brutally criticized by the media. After becoming the chairman joint chiefs, General Ehsan-ul-Haq oversaw the ground troops deployment of army only, while the air force and navy were kept out of the region.
In April 2004, the Government of Pakistan signed the Shakai agreement, first of three peace agreements with militants in South Waziristan. It was signed by militia commander Nek Muhammad Wazir, but was immediately abrogated once Nek Muhammad was killed by an American Hellfire missile in June 2004.
 The second one, Sararogha Peace Agreemen, was signed in February 2005 with Nek's successor Baitullah Mehsud, which brought relative calm in the South Waziristan region. This deal would later, in September 2006, be mimicked in the neighboring North Waziristan territory as the third and final truce, Miranshah Peace Accord, between the government and the militants. However, all of these truces would not have a substantial effect in reducing bloodshed. The latter two deals were officially broken in August 2007 with the start of Operation Silence which was initiated by Islamabad, and resulted in a tenfold increase in suicide attacks on Pakistan Armed Forces.
The strategy of keeping the air force and navy out from the conflict proved to be ineffective, as the violence spread out all over the country, and the army came under great pressure from the militants in 2004–07. In 2007, General Ehsan-ul-Haq admitted publicly that keeping the navy and the air force out of the conflict was a mistake.
Transition in Tribal areas: 2005–06
The ISI's Covert Action Division (CAD) and the Special Services Group conducted a secret paramilitary operation to capture a high-ranking al-Qaeda operative Abu Faraj al-Libbi on 4 May 2005, after a raid outside the town of Mardan, 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Peshawar. His arrest was confirmed by the Government sources and noted as "al-Libbi was a high ranking al-Qaeda official, rumored to be third after Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri." Al-Libbi replaced Khalid Shaikh Mohammed after his arrest in March 2003 in connection with the 11 September attacks. The Pakistan government arrested al-Libbi and held him on charges in relation to being a chief planner in two assassination attempts on the life of President Pervez Musharraf in December 2003.
On 13 January 2006, the United States Air Force launched an airstrike on the village of Damadola. The attack occurred in the Bajaur tribal area, about 7 km (4.3 mi) from the Afghan border, and killed at least 18 people. The attack again targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, but later evidence suggests he was not there.
On 21 June 2006, pro-Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan militants in the Bannu region of North Waziristan stated they shot down a Bell military helicopter that was reported to have crashed. The government denied missile fire as the cause, stating it was due to technical faults. The helicopter had taken off from a base camp in Bannu at around 7 am for Miramshah and crashed 15 minutes later into the Baran Dam in the Mohmandkhel area on Wednesday morning. Four soldiers were killed while three others were rescued. On the same day militants killed an inspector and two constables on a road connecting Bannu and the main town of Miranshah.
On 21 June 2006, Afghan Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani issued a decree that it was not (Afghan) Taliban policy to fight the Pakistan Army. However, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan intentionally did not circulate the decree in North Waziristan thereby keeping pressure on the government.
Waziristan peace accord signed
In 2006, the government witnessed the successful implementation of the peace deal between two tribes in Kurram Agency over the issue of distribution of irrigation water. Promptly, the government accepted the tribal recommendation to sign a peace deal with the militants in North Waziristan. Signed on 5 September 2006, the agreement was called the "Waziristan Accord"— an agreement among tribal leaders, militants, and the Pakistan government was signed in Miranshah, North Waziristan. to end all fighting. The agreement includes the following provisions:
- The Pakistan military will help reconstruct infrastructure in tribal areas of North and South Waziristan.
- The Pakistan military will not tolerate any assistance to intruders in North Waziristan, and will monitor actions in the region.
- The Pakistan government is to compensate tribal leaders for the loss of life and property of innocent tribesmen.
- "Foreigners" (informally understood to be foreign jihadists) are not allowed to use Pakistani territory for any terrorist activity anywhere in the world.
- 2,500 foreigners who were originally held on suspicion of having links to the Taliban were to be detained for necessary action against them.
The agreement, dubbed the Waziristan accord, has been viewed by some political commentators as a success for Pakistan. Even the military commander of the Pakistan Army, Lieutenant-General Ali Jan Aurakzai, also welcomed the peace agreement as "unprecedented in tribal history" and credited the intertribal jirga with amicably resolving a complicated issue within a few weeks.
Others were far more critical, seeing it as allowing militants to regroup and reorganize after military operations. However, in 2007, accord's chief architect and chairman joint chiefs General Ehsan-ul-Haq openly admitted to the media that the only ground troops deployment was wrong as the "Waziristan truce went wrong".
2006 Madrassah air strike
On 30 October 2006, United States conducted a deadly missile airstrike on a madrassa in the Bajaur region bordering Afghanistan. The strike killed 82 seminary students. Long War Journal blamed U.S. for the air strike as only U.S. was able to conduct precision night strikes in the region.
Sahibzada Haroonur Rashid, MNA from Bajaur Agency, resigned from the National Assembly on Monday to protest against the bombing of a madressah in his constituency.
In retaliation for the attack the militants unsuccessfully fired a series of RPG rockets on the heavily fortified security camp of Governor and Lieutenant-General Jan Aurkzai; though his convey escaped unharmed on 8 November 2006. The same day, the militants coordinated a successful suicide bomb attack on military base in Dargai, about 100 km north of Peshawar. The suicide attack killed nearly 42 Pakistani soldiers and wounding 20 others. Military intelligence investigators later testified in media that suicide bombing had a direct link with the air strike.
Insurgency in the north, 2007
As early as 2007, the northern region had been suffering with an insurgency and President Musharraf was increasingly under great pressure from the militants when several army operations outlined mixed results. In March, his government was forced[by whom?] to sign a peace treaty with Fakir Mohamad, the main militant leader in Bajaur. Militant groups then held three districts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas: South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Bajaur Agency.
In South Waziristan, the Uzbek militancy had been growing as many former Soviet fighters–turned militants were reportedly seen encircling in the area; many of the military intelligence reports indicated the movements of former Soviet fighters in the region, mostly Uzbeks and Chechens from the troubled areas of Russian Federation.
In 2007, the fighting sparked between the Uzbek fighters and the native militant groups by the killing of Arab fighter Saiful Adil, an al-Qaeda operative, blamed on the Uzbeks fighters by Maulvi Nazir, described as a top pro-Taliban militant commander in the region. According to the other version, the fighting started after Maulvi Nazir, whom the government claimed had come over to its side, ordered the Uzbek followers of former Soviet fighters, Tohir Abduhalilovich Yo'ldoshev and Kamolitdinich Jalolov, to disarm, both were formerly the close confidants of Osama bin Laden.
Defeat of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
According to the military intelligence officials in 2007, there were many key reasons why the Uzbeks had been dominating the area. Military intelligence reports testified that the locals were scared to mobilize the opposition against the Uzbek militants due to their reputations as fierce fighters with long memories and very strong military backgrounds. Some of these fighters used to be soldiers and officers in the Soviet Army during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, and some of them had military training given by the CIA during the 1990s; hence they were experts in guerrilla warfare. The IMU fighters had little to lose and it was difficult for them to escape somewhere else. They couldn't go back to Uzbekistan, and after 2009, re-infiltration back to Afghanistan also started becoming more difficult. Thus, they made Waziristan their home. Local militants allied to the tribesmen were reported attacking and seizing the IMU's private jail in Azam Warsak. The Pakistan Army intelligence said it did not intend to step in, but witnesses say government artillery fired on the Uzbek fighters they set up to fight the tribesmen.
Heavy fighting resumed on 29 March 2007, ending a week-long ceasefire between tribal fighters and foreign militants. According to initial reports, tribesmen attacked a checkpoint manned by former Soviet Uzbek fighters and captured two of them. The clashes also left one tribal fighter dead and three wounded. The following day, a senior Pakistani official announced that 52 people were killed during the past two days; 45 of them were Uzbeks and the rest tribesmen. One of Maulvi Nazir's aides put the death toll at 35 Uzbeks fighters and 10 tribal fighters. However, residents in the area said that the death toll on both sides was inflated.
The conflict further escalated on 2 April when a council of elders declared jihad against foreign militants and started to raise an army of tribesmen. According to Pakistani intelligence officials, heavy fighting concentrated in the village of Doza Ghundai left more than 60 people dead, including 50 foreigners, 10 tribal fighters and one Pakistani soldier. Intelligence officials also said that "dozens of Uzbeks" had surrendered to tribal forces and that many bunkers used by militants were seized or destroyed.
On 12 April 2007, the army general in charge of South Waziristan said that tribal fighters had cleared the Soviet Uzbeks out of the valleys surrounding Wana and the foreign fighters had been pushed back into the mountains on the Afghan border. Four days later, the local tribesmen has urged Islamabad to resume control of law and order in the area.
Lal Masjid siege and truce broken
The siege of Lal Masjid was one the serious breach in the conflict and escalated the conflict in the summer of 2007. On 3 July 2007, the militant supporters of Lal Masjid and the Pakistan police clashed in Islamabad after the students from the mosque attacked and stoned the nearby MoE secretariat. Their resultant faceoff with the military escalated, despite the intervention of then-ruling PML(Q) leaders Shuja'at Hussain and Ijaz-ul-Haq. The Pakistan police, aided by the Pakistan Army Rangers immediately put up a siege around the mosque complex which lasted until 11 July and resulted in 108 deaths. This represented the main catalyst for the conflict and eventual breakdown of the truce that existed between Pakistan and the Taliban groups. Already during the siege, there were several attacks in Waziristan in retaliation for the siege.
As the siege in Islamabad ensued, several attacks on Pakistan army troops in Waziristan were reported. First attack was reported on 14 July 2007 when a suicide bomber attacked a Pakistan Army convoy killing 25 soldiers and wounding 54. Second attack was on 15 July 2007, two suicide bombers attacked another Pakistan Army convoy killing 16 soldiers and 5 civilians and wounding another 47 people. And in a separate incident, a fourth suicide bomber attacked a police headquarters killing 28 police officers and recruits and wounding 35 people. The assault on the Red Mosque prompted Islamic militants along the border with Afghanistan to scrap the controversial Waziristan Accord with Musharraf.
Under pressured, Musharraf moved the army in large concentration of troops into Waziristan and engaged in fierce clashes with militants in which at least 100 militants were killed including wanted terrorist and former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Abdullah Mehsud. The militants also struck back by attacking Army convoys, security check points and sending suicide bombers killing dozens of soldiers and police and over 100 civilians. In one month of fighting during the period from 24 July to 24 August 2007, 250 militants and 60 soldiers were killed. On 2 September 2007, just a few dozen militants led by Baitullah Mehsud managed to ambush a 17-vehicle army convoy and captured an estimated 247 soldiers without a shot being fired, an event that shocked the nation. Several officers were among the captured, the public criticism grew hard on Musharraf.
After the army returned to Waziristan, they garrisoned the areas and set up check-points, but the militants hit hard. In mid-September, the TTP and other forces attacked a number of Pakistan army outposts all across North and South Waziristan. This resulted in some of the heaviest fighting of the war. Following the Lal Masjid Siege, the first outpost was attacked and overrun by the militants resulting in the capture of 12 Pakistani soldiers. The next day on 13 September 2007, a suicide bomber in Tarbela Ghazi attacked a Pakistan army base, destroying the main mess hall and killing 20 members of the SSG Karrar Commando Unit; Pakistan's most elite army unit. A series of attacks ensued and by 20 September 2007, a total of five Pakistan Army military outposts had been overrun and more than 25 soldiers captured. More than 65 soldiers were either killed or captured and almost 100 wounded. A little over two weeks later, the Army responded with helicopter gunships and ground troops. They hit militant positions near the town of Mir Ali. In heavy fighting over four days, 257 people were killed, including 175 militants, 47 soldiers and 35 civilians.
By the end of October 2007, another heavy fighting erupted in the Swat district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province between the Frontier Police and the large portion of far right-wing TNSM organization, under the command of Maulana Fazlullah who was trying to impose Sharia law. In a response, the military deployed a combat brigade under a local Brigadier-General to confront them. After week of heavy fighting with the brigade combat teams, the battle came to a standstill with both sides suffering heavy casualties. On 3 November 2007, around ~220 paramilitary soldiers and policemen surrendered or deserted after a military position on a hill-top and two police stations were overrun. This left the TNSM in control of most of the Swat district.
The fighting in Swat is the first serious insurgent threat from terrorist groups in what is known as a settled area of Pakistan. Following this, foreign fighters of al-Qaeda loyal to TNSM's Maulana Fazlullah tried to implement strict Islamic law in November 2007. In November 2007, another brigade combat team was deployed with the help of helicopter gunships to crush the uprising. By the beginning of December 2007, the fighting had ended and the military recaptured Swat. Almost ~400 foreign fighters of Maulana Fazlullah were dead along with 15 Pakistani soldiers and 20 civilians in the military suspension. Despite the victory by the military, the foreign fighters of TNSM slowly re-entered Swat over the coming months and started engaging security forces in battles that lasted throughout 2008. By early February 2009, the whole district was in military control.
Rawalpindi attacks and State of emergency in 2007
On 3 September 2007, the two coordinated suicide bombers targeted an ISI bus and a line of cars carrying ISI officers. The bus attack killed a large number of Defence Ministry workers and the other attack killed an Army colonel. In all 31 people, 19 soldiers and 12 civilians, were killed.
Two months later on 24 November, another military intelligence (MI) bus was again attacked. Almost everyone on the bus was killed. Another bomber blew up at a military checkpoint. 35 people were killed, almost all military officials. Facing with an intense criticism from media regarding the Red Mosque siege, President Musharraf became involved in a confrontation with the country's judiciary who began taking suo motu actions against the directives issued by Musharraf and his Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on issues involving the forming of the investigative commission on Red Mosque as well as hearings of victims of the siege, the findings of missing persons, issuing verdicts against the controversial NRO and privatization, and issuing subpoena regarding the extrajudicial killing of Akbar Bugti, in 2006. Failing to reach a compromise and subdue the judiciary, Musharraf authorized the decree of sacking around ~70 senior justices including, the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, immediately and declared the state of emergency on 9 November 2007. Virtually suspending the supreme law of the land, the constitution of the country, the massive nationwide demonstration and anger erupted against President Musharraf.
Though, this action and its responses are generally related to the controversies surrounding the re-election of Musharraf during the presidential election that had occurred on 6 October 2007, and also was claimed by the government to be the reaction to the actions by militants in Waziristan.
2008 general election
On 27 December 2007, Pakistani opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated upon leaving a political rally for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. A suicidal assassin reportedly fired shots in Bhutto's direction just prior to detonating an explosive pellet-laden vest, killing approximately 24 people and wounding many more.
Ultimately, President General Musharraf and his military establishment blamed the attack on al-Qaeda, but this was contradicted following day, when Baitullah Mehsud sent a statement to the media saying that he and al-Qaeda had "no involvement in the murder of the former Prime Minister", and that they believed that Musharraf was responsible. The violence spread all over the country and national media broadcast the wave of violence across the country that left 58 people dead, including four police officers. Most of the violence was directed at Musharraf and his political party, PML(Q). Opposition parties, notably the PPP, branded PML(Q) as "Qatil League" (lit. Murderer's League). Benazir Bhutto had previously survived an assassination attempt made on her life during her homecoming which left 139 people dead and hundreds wounded.
Escalation, air and ground war
In January 2008, the foreign fighters overran Sararogha Fort, and may have overrun a fort in Ladah as well. Both forts are in South Waziristan, and were held by the Pakistan Army. After the general elections in 2008, the army's fighting capability was depleted under the command of President Musharraf and many in the media had scrutinized the role of the army in the national politics. On 25 February 2008, a suicide bomber struck in the garrison-town of Rawalpindi which targeted and killed top military medic and Medical Corps Surgeon-General, Lieutenant-General Mushtaq Baig, along with two more soldiers and five civilians.
In a secretive appointment by Musharraf personally, General Baig had been an operational commander of the army fighting in the region and was the highest-level military official to be assassinated since 1971 war. In 2008, General Musharraf was soon relieved off his command, succeeding General Ishfaq Pervez Kiani as chief of army staff. Events led by successful movement pushed Musharraf to downfall, followed by the consolidated impeachment movement led by Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani ousted Musharraf from the presidency in 2008. The new socialist government led by Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani of the PPP made critical decisions and appointment in the key combatant staff of the armed forces, including the new chief of naval staff (Admiral Noman Bashir) and endorsing air chief marshal Rao Soleman as chief of air staff; all in late 2008.
The upcoming and then-newly appointed Chairman Joint Chiefs General Tariq Majid formalized a plan and strategy to tackle the insurgency. Terming as "tri-services framework (TSW)", the chairman joint chiefs emphasized the role of inter-services to tackle the insurgency with full force, and joint army-navy-airforce "efforts that are synergized within a framework of jointness and inter-operability to meet present and future challenges". His plan was submitted to Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani who approved the new strategy, which followed the new order of battle and new deployments of combat units of joint army–navy–air force in the north-western region.
After a brief intense change in chain of command in the Pakistan Armed Forces, a full-fledged military operation called 'Zalzala (lit. earthquake) was undertaken by 14th Army Division in January with the goal of flushing out Baitullah Mehsud's TTP fighters from the area. The area had previously been a more or less safe zone for militants, with some villagers providing them support and shelter. The operation resulted in tactical success and scores of militants were killed during the operation, and within three days the armed forces were in full control of the area. The army later captured a few other villages and small towns as part of their attempt to pressure Baitullah Mehsud.
However, the operation led to a huge displacement of local population. According to the GOC of the 14th Army Division's Major-General Tariq Khan, about 200,000 men, women and children, were displaced. Khalid Aziz, former chief secretary of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and expert on tribal affairs, said the displacement was "one of the biggest in tribal history".
Peace agreement and Bajaur offensive
Earlier on 7 February 2008, the TTP had offered a truce to Musharraf and peace negotiations resulting in a suspension of violence. On 21 May 2008, the Government signed a peace agreement with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Despite the agreement sporadic fighting continued until late June and escalated with the takeover of the town of Jandola on 24 June, by the militants. Around 22 pro-government tribal fighters were captured and executed by the TTP at that time. On 28 June 2008, Pakistan Army started another offensive against militia fighters in Kyhber, codenamed Sirat-e-Mustaqeem (lit. Righteous Path). The military took control of a key town and demolished an insurgent group's building. In this offense, one militant was reportedly killed while two soldiers died in Swat valley. The operation was halted in early July. On 19 July 2008, clashes erupted between the TTP and a faction of pro-government Taliban militants. The fighting ended with 10–15 of the pro-government fighters were killed and another 120 were captured. Among the captured were two commanders who were tried under "Islamic" law by the Taliban and then executed.
On 21 July 2008, heavy fighting with another separatist group, the BLA in Baluchistan Province, killed 32 militants, 9 soldiers and 2 civilians. More than two dozen militants were captured and a large weapons cache was found. Between 28 July and 4 August 2008, heavy fighting flared up in the northwestern Swat valley leaving 94 militants, 28 civilians and 22 soldiers and policemen, were dead.
On 6 August 2008, the heavy ground fighting erupted in the Loisam area of the Bajaur district. The Loisam lies on the strategically important road leading towards the main northwestern city of Peshawar. The fighting started when hundreds of foreign fighters poured into the area and began attacking armed forces. After four days of fighting on 10 August 2008, the military was forced to withdraw from the area. It resulted in confirmed killing of 100 militants and 9 soldiers, and another 55 soldiers were missing, at least three dozen of them captured by the militants. While the fighting was going on in Bajaur, in the Buner area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, the militants killed at least nine policemen in an attack on a check post. The checkpoint was then abandoned, and the army troops withdrew to Khar, the main town of Bajaur Agency. There were reports that the town of Khar was then besieged by tribal militants.
On 21 August 2008, in response to the military offensive in Bajaur, two suicide bombers attacked the POF Laboratories in Wah while workers were changing shifts. The attack killed at least 70 people.
Tribal tension with TTP and US support for tribes
As military retreat from Bajaur Agency, the Pakistani tribal elders began organizing a private army of approximately 30,000 tribesmen to fight the TTP, with the support of the Provincial government in September 2008. This local private military company, known as lashkar (lit. brigade), had composed of Pakistani tribesmen who began burning the houses of militant commanders in Bajaur and vowed to fight them until they are expelled. During this campaign, the Lashkar torched the house of local militant commander named Naimatullah, who had occupied several government schools and converted them into seminaries. A tribal elder named Malik Munsib Khan quoted in media that tribes would continue their struggle until the foreign fighters were expelled from the area, adding that anyone found sheltering militants would be fined one million rupees and their houses will be burned. The tribesmen also torched two important centres of local militant activity and gained control of tribal areas.
One of the main motivations for this activity was the operations that were taking place in the FATA that had displaced some 300,000 people while dozens of citizens had been killed in clashes between the militants and military. Since the start of operations against the foreign fighters, some 150,000 tribesmen have sided with them.
The American military proposals outlined an intensified effort to enlist tribal leaders in the frontier areas of Pakistan in the fight against al-Qaeda. The proposal was modeled in part on a similar effort by American forces in Iraq that had been hailed as a great success in fighting foreign insurgents there. But it raised the question of whether such partnerships can be forged without a significant American military presence in Pakistan. The American military raised great questions whether it is enough support can be found among the tribes. Small numbers of high-ranking officers of American military have served as advisers to the Pakistan Armed Forces in the tribal areas, giving planning advice and helping to integrate American intelligence. Under this new approach, the number of advisers had to increase.
The U.S. Government said these security improvements complemented a package of assistance from the US AID for the seven districts of the tribal areas that amounted to $750 million over five years, and would involve work in education, health and other sectors. The BINLEA of the US Government also assisted the Frontier Corps with financing for counter-narcotics work.
Islamabad Marriott Hotel Bombing
In 2008, the al-Qaeda struck its largest terrorist attack in Islamabad when a truck bomb targeted the Marriott Hotel. This attack was a defining moment in the war and around ~266 sustained the injuries and 54 died. According to the testimonies, numbers of U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy personnel also died in the attack; many believed the Americans were the target of the terrorist attacks. In a response to attack on 23 September 2008, the PAF launched its aerial bombing mission which resulted in ultimate success. Military reports indicating that more than 60 insurgents were killed in northwest Pakistan. In the nearby Bajur tribal region, the air force strikes killed at least 10 militants, according to government officials. The Bajur operations, which the army said left more than 700 suspected militants dead, won praise from U.S. officials.
Renewed Bajaur offensive
In a television emergency address, President Zardari and Prime Minister Gillani publicly vowed revenge in response to the Marriott Hotel bombing. By 26 September 2008, Pakistan air force and army had successfully conducted and completed a major joint offensive in the Bajaur and the Tang Khata regions of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, codenamed Operation Sherdil. Thist joint operation had killed over 1,000 militants in a huge offensive, a day after President Asif Ali Zardari lashed out at US forces over a clash on the Afghan border.
Major-General Tariq Khan, now Inspector General of the Frontier Corps, mentioned to journalists that since the beginning of the Bajaur operations, there were up to 2,000 militant fighters including hundreds of foreign fighters who were fighting with the soldiers and the armed forces. The overall death toll was over ~1,000 militants and also adding that 27 Pakistani soldiers had also been killed with 111 soldiers seriously wounded.
In this major aerial offense, five of the most wanted al-Qaeda operatives and Central Asian militant commanders were among those killed in a month-long operation in Bajaur. According to PAF reports, "out of the five militant commanders killed, four appeared to be foreigners: Egyptian abu Saeed Al-Masri; Abu Suleiman, also an Arab; an Uzbek fighter named Mullah Mansoor; and an Afghan commander called Manaras. The fifth was a Pakistani commander named only Abdullah, a son of aging hardline leader Maulvi Faqir Mohammad who is based in Bajaur and has close ties to Al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Between 22 and 24 October, the armed forces engaged in another hard-push against militants in the restive Bajaur and Khyber tribal regions. The army troops did not enter in the region until the PAF conducted its precision bombings. The PAF intense high-altitude air strikes missions were carried out in the Nawagai and Mamond sub-districts of Bajaur Agency. The advancing troops destroyed several centers of militants at Charmang, Chinar and Zorbandar and inflicted heavy losses on them. The army gunship helicopters shelled in Charming, Cheenar, Kohiand Babarha areas of Nawagai and Mamund Tehsil of Bajaur agency, destroying various underground hideouts and bunkers of militants. The armed forces also took control of different areas of Loisam, a militant headquarters, and advanced towards other areas for complete control.
Intensified drone strikes and border skirmishes with United States
At the end of August 2008, the USAF stepped up its air attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. On 3 September 2008, the United States Army Special Forces teams laid a commando attack in a village near the Afghan border in South Waziristan. Additional air strikes from unmanned drones in North Waziristan culminating on 8 September 2008, when a United States Air Force drone aircraft fired a number of missiles at a "guest house for militants arriving in North Waziristan." Around ~23 people were killed, but the operation's target, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was not among them.
On 25 September 2008, the Pakistan military and the US military became involved in heavy border fighting on the Frontier border. The incident happened after two US military helicopters came under fire from Pakistan army troops. A US military spokesman insisted that they had been about a mile and a half inside Afghanistan. Speaking at the United Nations, President Asif Zardari maintained that Pakistan would not tolerate violations of its sovereignty, even by its allies. President Zardari told the United Nations, "Just as we will not let Pakistani's territory to be used by terrorists for attacks against our people and our neighbours, we cannot allow our territory and our sovereignty to be violated by our friends", he said, without specifically citing the United States or the border flareup.
Militants targeting of tribes
On 11 October 2008, a suicide bomber struck an anti-militant gathering of tribal elders just as they had decided to form a lashkar (tribal militia). At least 110 anti-Taliban tribesmen were killed and a further 125 were wounded. The suicide bomber drove his car into the gathering itself and blew himself up. The attack on the tribal council took place in Orakzai, normally a relatively quiet corner of the nation's chaotic tribal areas.
Fighting for the NATO supply lines
On 19 October 2008, the news media began to broadcast the news of Pakistan Army troops, led by an army lieutenant, being locked in a fierce battle with foreign militants to keep open the line routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan. For several months, the foreign militants had been trying to either attack or seal off the supply routes. The army battle reports indicated that the local commander, Mohammad Tariq al-Fridi, had seized terrain around the mile-long Kohat Tunnel. The military intelligence reports had held al-Fridi responsible for coordinated suicide bomb attacks and rocket strikes against convoys emerging from it. The TTP spokesman, Maulvi Omar, claimed that his foreign fighters would lay down their arms if the Pakistan Army ceased intense fighting. The military refused his offers and a tactical military operation was launched to secure the tunnel routes after TTP seized five trucks carrying weapons and ammunition. They held the tunnel for a week before they were driven out in fierce fighting with the military. Since then, Tariq and his men have returned several times to attack convoys, in a response, the army launched its latest onslaught after a suicide bomb attack at one of its bases near the tunnel six weeks ago. In a massive manhunt operation, Tariq was killed along with hundreds of militants while trying to flee the battle in a combat air operation. The operation ended with five civilians were killed and 45 were injured, including 35 soldiers, when a pickup truck packed with explosives was driven into a checkpoint.
On 11 November 2008, another group of militants attacked two convoys at the Khyber Pass capturing 13 trucks which were headed for Afghanistan. One convoy was from the United Nations World Food Programme and was carrying wheat. The second was intended for NATO troops and one of the captured trucks was carrying with it two U.S. military Humvees, which were also seized.
On 8 December 2008, the militants torched more than 160 vehicles destined for US-led troops in Afghanistan. The militants attacked the Portward Logistic Terminal (PTL) in the northern city of Peshawar at around 02:30 am, destroying its gate with a rocket-propelled grenade and shooting dead a guard. They then set fire to about 100 vehicles, including 70 Humvees, which shipping documents showed were being shipped to the US-led coalition forces and the Afghan National Army. At the same time, militants torched about 60 more vehicles at the nearby Faisal depot, which like Portward is on the ring road around Peshawar, where convoys typically stop before heading for the Khyber Pass. On 3 February 2009, the militant group again blew up a bridge at the Khyber Pass, temporarily cutting a major supply line for Western troops in Afghanistan. After the attack supplies along the route had been halted "for the time being", according to NATO.
Public support and unified military operations
Since 2008–09, the Chairman joint chiefs General Tariq Majid, working with his JS HQ staffers, had been running several meetings of planning to conduct the joint warfare operations against the TTP militants. A new strategy of joint-military operations and studies were conducted under General Majid. During this time, the Government agreed to impose the Sharia ordnance law and temporarily suspended the military suspension in the Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. This decision was troubling for the United States in Afghanistan, which believed that it would embolden militant groups fighting US military–led ISAF in Afghanistan.
The US government also believed it would provide another safe haven for the militants within 80 miles (130 km) of Islamabad, as well as a corridor between the North-Western border with Afghanistan and North–Eastern border with India.
The Pakistan Government officials rationalized that "such agreement was the only way to pacify a fierce insurgency and avoid more civilian casualties in Swat Valley – whose ski resort and mountain scenery once made it a popular tourist destination." The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Chief Minister, Amir Hoti, announced that the local authorities would impose Islamic law across Malakand Division, which includes Swat. The Government officials maintained that President Asif Zardari would sign off on the deal once peace had been restored. However, the agreement was never signed by President Zardari soon after the TTP militants violated the treaty.
The agreement came the day after the militants in Swat said that it would observe a ten-day ceasefire in support of the peace process. Pakistani officials say that the laws allow Muslim clerics to advise judges, but not to outlaw female education, music or other activities once banned by the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan.
Defeat of the militants in Bajaur
On 1 March 2009, the Pakistan Army troops finally defeated the foreign fighters in Bajaur, which is a strategically important region on the Afghan border. The 40th Army Division commander, Major-General Tariq Khan reported that 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 battle in Bajaur was over, the Pakistan Army killed over 1,500 militants while losing 97 of their own soldiers and 404 soldiers seriously injured.
In retaliation on 30 March, the militant groups attacked the Police Academy in Munawan town, killing and taking hostage police cadets. In an operation led by Punjab Police, the units of Elite Police had managed to retake the academy. Lasting about eight hours, the police suspension ended with 18 people killed in the attack, including eight policemen, eight militants and two civilians deaths. At least, ~95 policemen were wounded and four gunmen were captured by the Elite Police.
In a similar attack on 4 April 2009, another suicide bomber attacked a military camp in Islamabad killing eight soldiers; less than 24 hours later, two more suicide attacks occurred. One bomber targeted a market on the border with Afghanistan killing 17 people and the other attacked a mosque in Chakwal, in the Eastern Pakistan province of Punjab, killing 26 more civilians. The next day, the leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud, promised that there were to be two suicide attacks per week in the country until the Pakistani army withdrew from the border region and the United States stopped its missile attacks by unmanned drones on militant bases.
Militant violation of Swat ceasefire
In March 2009, many Pakistanis were horrified when a videotape was broadcast in news channels that showed militant enforcers were publicly whipping a 17-year-old girl in Swat accused of having an affair. The girl had not committed fornication or adultery but was flogged simply because she refused her brother's demand to marry someone of his choosing. Protests against the TTP broke out all over the country to demonstrate against the flogging. Conservative thinker Raja Zafar ul Haq of Pakistan Muslim League, appearing in news channels, maintained that "this summary punishment of flogging simply for refusing a marriage proposal was totally un-Islamic and had nothing to do with Sharia." He went on to say that Muhammad had strictly forbidden the practice of forced marriages and in this case, the girl had not done anything wrong by refusing a marriage proposal.
Sensing the sensitivity of the issue, the Supreme Court of Pakistan appointed a five-member team appointed to investigate the video's origins, and concluded that it had been faked, raising questions at Pakistani intelligence services.
In Buner, the TTP continued their criminal activities when residents said TTP fighters had been stealing cattle for meat, stealing other livestock, berating men without beards and recruiting teenagers into their ranks. The TTP also began to steal vehicles belonging to government officials and ransacked the offices of some local non-government organisations for no apparent reason. 12 schoolchildren were killed by a bomb contained in a football.
Operation Black Thunderstorm
On 26 April 2009, the unified Pakistan Armed Forces started the strategic and tactical airborne attack, codename Black Thunderstorm, with the aim of retaking Buner, Lower Dir, Swat and Shangla districts from the TTP. This joint army–navy- air force unified operation was well rehearsed and prepared. The fighter jets of Navy and air force began pounding the militant hideouts while army kept advancing in the militant hideouts. The combat fighter pilots of the navy and air force flew their aerial bombing mission together in high altitude at continuous 24-hour period, to avoid being hit from the anti-aircraft guns. During the initial stages of the unified operations, the ground troops and paratroopers performed combat HALO/HAHO techniques to hold the control of high strategic mountains and hills surrounding the Taliban-controlled cities.
The operation largely cleared the Lower Dir district of militia forces by 28 April and Buner by 5 May 2009. The same day, the ground fighting in Swat was particularly fierce since the TTP threw away their insurgent tactics and the ground forces obtained the counter-insurgency tactics. By 14 May 2009, the military was only six kilometers south of Mingora, the militia-held capital city of Swat, and preparations for all-out street fighting were underway.
On 23 May 2009, the battle for Mingora started and by 27 May, approximately 70% of the city was cleared of militants. On 30 May, the Pakistan military had taken back the city of Mingora from the TTP, calling it a significant victory in its offensive against the militants. However, some sporadic fighting was still continuing on the city's outskirts.
In all, according to the military, 128 soldiers and more than ~1,475 militants were killed and 317 soldiers were wounded during operation Black Thunderstorm. ~95 soldiers and policemen were captured by the militants; all were rescued by the military. 114 foreign fighters were captured, including some local commanders. At least 23 of the militants killed were foreigners.
Sporadic fighting throughout Swat continued up until mid-June. On 14 June, the operation was declared over and the military had regained control of the region. Only small pockets of Taliban resistance remained and the military started mopping up operations. This led to a refugee crisis, and by 22 August, 1.6 million of 2.3 million have returned home according to UN estimates.
Blockade of South Waziristan
In the aftermath of the successful victory and recapture of the entire Swat valley, the Pakistan military began a massive army troop build-up along the southern and eastern borders of South Waziristan on 16 June 2009,. The military was now taking the fight to Mehsud's mountainous stronghold, ordering an expansion of its current offensive against TTP fighters in the Swat valley. On 17 June 2009, the Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Owais Ghani, denounced Baitullah Mehsud as "the root cause of all evils", and quoted that the government has called on the military to launch a "full-fledged" operation to eliminate Mehsud and his estimated 20,000 men.
The Islamabad's decision to launch the offensive against Mehsud signaled a deepening of Pakistani resolve against the militants. The military had targeted the TTP leader on three separate occasions – in 2004, 2005 and 2008 – but walked away each time after signing peace deals with Mehsud. This time, the military also enjoyed the public support as a wave of terrorist attacks had swayed public sentiment against the Taliban.
On 17 October 2009, the military launched another offense, called Rah-e-Nijat when the combat brigades and fighter jets launched a large-scale offensive in South Waziristan involving ~28,000 troops advancing across South Waziristan from three directions. Starting with air force strike and naval intelligence assessment on the TTP, the first town to fall to the military was Kotkai, the birthplace of the TTP leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, on 19 October 2009. However, the next day, the TTP re-took the town. Troops had thrust into Kotkai only to be hit by a determined counteroffensive that killed seven soldiers, including an army major, and wounded seven more. The military managed to take the town once again on 24 October, after days of bombardments.
On 1 November 2009, the towns of Sararogha and Makin were surrounded, and fighting for Sararogha started on 3 November. The fighting there lasted until 17 November, when the town finally fell to the military. The same day, the town of Laddah was also captured by the military and street fighting commenced in Makin. Both Sararogha and Laddah were devastated in the fighting.
On 12 December 2009, the Pakistan military declared victory in South Waziristan.
Death of Baitullah Mehsud and TTP counter-attacks
In early October 2009, the TTP started a string of bomb attacks in cities across Pakistan. The goal of the attacks was to show that the TTP militants were still a united fighting force following the death of their leader and to disrupt a planned military offensive into South Waziristan. Places targeted include the U.N. World Food Program offices in Islamabad a food store in Peshawar; military headquarters in Rawalpindi; a market in Shangla; the intelligence establishments in Lahore; the police stations in Kohat and Peshawar; the Islamic center at the International Islamic University in Islamabad; and Air Science Laboratories (ASL) Complex in Kamra. The month of November ended with a car bombing of Meena Bazaar, Peshawar killing 118 civilians. Additionally, the month of November saw suicide bombings of the National Bank of Pakistan in Rawalpindi, a market in Charsadda, and six bombings in Peshawar including the regional headquarters of the ISI and the Judicial Complex. In 2013, the media reported that the mastermind of chain of attacks in 2009, Abdullah Umar, was brutalized and killed in a police encounter with Punjab Police in 2013. Media authorities identified Abdullah Umar as a law student of the International Islamic University and a son of army colonel.
Insurgency in West and defeat of Taliban: 2010–11
On 23 March 2010, the Pakistan armed forces launched an offensive to clear Orakzai. Officials also announced a future offensive in North Waziristan. The week prior the Pakistan military killed approximately 150 militants in fighting in the region. It was expected that all tribal areas would be cleared by June 2010.
On 3 June, Pakistani authorities announced a victory over the insurgents in Orakzai and Kurram.
As late as 2010, chief of naval staff Admiral Noman Bashir had coordinated many of successful tactical ground operations against TTP hideouts, to support the army and air force pressure on militants. Many successful operations were executed by the navy, and its operational capability gained international prominence. By 2011, Pakistan's armed forces were stretched thin by natural disasters and deployments against extremist groups, with one third of the army deployed for the fight, another third along the Indian border and the rest engaged in preparing to deploy. On 1 May 2011, in a clandestine operation in Abbottabad, al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was located and killed by the U.S. Navy SEALs in his private compound. The groups affiliated with the armed TTP vowed, via media, to avenge Osama's death upon the Pakistan Armed Forces.
On 21 and 28 April, senior al-Qaeda operative Ilyas Kashmiri conducted a series of coordinated terrorist attacks on the Pakistan Navy presence in Northern and Southern contingents. This included attacks on high naval officials of the Pakistan Navy in Karachi, first attacking their bus near the Navy bases. Finally on 22 May, TTP attacked the Mehran Naval Base, killing up to 10 naval officers, wounding 30 others, and destroying two naval reconnaissance aircraft, during the attack. In response, the navy's SSG(N) launched its largest offensive efforts since the 1971 operations, and managed to control and secure the base after a massive shootout. Operationally resulting in tactical success, the navy's counter offensive killed all the militants and ring leaders behind these operations. Kashmiri was widely suspected in the Mehran operation. On 4 June 2011, Ilyas Kashmiri was killed by a U.S. drone strike in South Waziristan.
In 2012, the north-west region of Pakistan experienced periodic bombings perpetrated by insurgents, resulting in thousands of deaths. On 22 December 2012, a suicide bomb attack carried out by the Pakistani Taliban killed Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as 8 other people.
Tirah Valley clashes
In January 2013, at least 80 militants and civilians were killed in clashes between the Tehrik-e-Taliban / Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansar ul-Islam (a pro-government militant group) in Tirah Valley of Pakistan's Khyber Agency. Fighting between Ansar ul-Islam and the Pakistani Taliban continued till March and as a result, almost the entire Tirah Valley came under the control of Lashkar-e-Islam and TTP fighters. Over 250 militants and civilians were killed and 400 others wounded in the three-month-long clashes. The fighting also displaced about 200,000 to 300,000 people. This forced the Pakistan Army to start Operation Rah-e-Shahadat in order to root out insurgents and extremists from the strategically important region and restore peace and stability for the upcoming May elections.
Military Intelligence map: Domain of Pakistan Armed Forces Operations to the areas adjacent to Afghanistan.
|Commander(s) and Belligerent(s)|
|Commanders and leaders|
Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani|
LGen Khalid Rabbani
Air Mshl Waseem-ud-din
RAdm Ather Mukhtar
MGen Ghayur Mehmood
Mangal Bagh Afridi
Omar Khalid Khorasani
|North–Western Forces Contingent|
|Casualties and losses|
Operation Rah-e-Shahadat (English: Path to Martyrdom; Urdu:راه شهادث), was a codename of a joint military operation that was commenced on 5 April 2013 by the Pakistan Army, with assistance provided by the PAF and Navy for air support. In close coordination with Local Peace Committee (Aman Lashkar), the army troops and special operations forces, aided by Frontier Corps, to flush out TTP and LeI militants from the Tirah Valley of the Khyber Agency. At least four Pakistani soldiers and 14 insurgents were killed while 5 soldiers were also wounded. In a major aerial operation, the Pakistan Air Force and navy fighter jets pounded hideouts of banned group LeI in and according to military intelligence reports, many militants escaped from the areas taking with them their injured fighters.
On 7 April 2013, Pakistani military officials said that at least 30 Taliban-linked militants and 23 soldiers including commandos were killed during clashes in the Tirah Valley since 5 April. Several Aman Lashkar members were also reported to be killed and wounded. Scores of insurgents and Pakistani troops were injured in the operation.
On 8 April 2013, Pakistani military officials said that at least 30 Pakistani soldiers and 97 militants were killed during fierce fighting with Taliban linked-fighters in the Tirah Valley since 5 April, the day when the operation began.
On 11 April 2013, at least 15 militants and one Pakistani soldier were killed during fighting in southern sector of Tirah Valley. The areas of Mada Khel and Tut Sar were cleared from militants.
On 12 April 2013, nine Pakistani soldiers and seven insurgents were killed during clashes in Sipah area of Tirah Valley. The security forces took control of the areas of Sandana and Sheikhmal Khel in Sipah area. Three Lashkar-e-Islam militants were also arrested while a dozen others were injured. Two peace committee members were killed and 22 others were injured in a bomb blast in the same area.
On 5 May 2013, Pakistan Army's ISPR said that 16 insurgents and two soldiers were killed during heavy clashes in the Tirah Valley. Three soldiers were reported to be wounded. The military also claimed to have captured militant strongholds Kismat Sur and Sanghar and recovered huge cache of arms and ammunition from the militants fleeing the area.
Disengagement of militant groups
News reports and intelligence media news began airing the news that the TTP and other Central Asian militant groups, notably the IMU, have now set up camps and reinforced hundreds of fighters to Syria to fight alongside rebels opposed to Bashar al-Assad in continuity of cementation of ties with al Qaeda, starting of July 2013. According to Reuters, hundreds of fighters had gone to Syria to fight alongside their "Mujahedeen friends". Media reported the visit and setup of a TTP base in Syria to assess "the needs of the jihad". At least 12 experts in information technology and warfare were sent to Syria in the last two months to aid the Mujahideen. The Pakistani government has not commented on the allegations.
North Waziristan offensive
On 19 December 2013, the army launched a major offensive in the Mir Ali region of North Waziristan following a suicide bomb attack on a checkpoint in the area the previous day. Artillery and helicopter gunships were used in the operation. By 23 December, more than 30 militants and up to 70 civilians allegedly were killed.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan infighting
In March 2014 rival factions fought for control of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Commander Khan Said Sajna and followers of the late TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud now under command of Maulana Fazlullah clashed in Shaktoi area of South Waziristan and later in the same area in early April 2014. This began a bloody struggle for control of the organization. After several minor skirmishes another major attack took place in the Shawal area of the troubled North Waziristan district on 6 May 2014.
In response to the IMU's Jinnah Airport attack on 8 June 2014, the Pakistani military launched an operation on 15 June 2014 against the militants in North Waziristan including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Al-Qaeda, East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Haqqani network. Up to 30,000 soldiers were involved in the operation. It had been described as a "comprehensive operation" that aimed to flush out foreign and local militants hiding in North Waziristan.
By 2014, casualty rates in the country as a whole dropped by 40% as compared to 2011–13, with even greater drops noted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, despite the province being the site of a large massacre of school children by Tehrik-i-Taliban terrorists in December 2014.
By December 2015, some 3,400 Pakistani Taliban and their allied fighters were killed during the first 18 months of the operation, according to the ISPR. By June 2016, a total of 3,500 militants were killed including 900 terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Islam, according to the Director General ISPR. 490 soldiers were also killed in the two-year operation. A kinetic military action was conducted and Shawal valley was cleared of militants.
On 22 February 2017, the Pakistan army launched Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad which aimed at eliminating the residual threat of terrorism, and consolidating the gains of Zarb-e-Azb. The operation was initiated in response to militant Jamaat-ul-Ahrar's Operation Ghazi that saw several IED and suicide attacks across Pakistan in February.
Peace prospects and developments
Since 2006, major initiatives have been taken out by the government to reconstruct and rehabilitate the war-torn areas of FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The military administrator of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Lieutenant-General Nadeem Ahmad, supervised majority of the socioeconomic development in the areas that were badly affected by the military operations. The government took many initiatives, including promotion the political activities under the Political Parties Act, the construction of the Peshawar-Torkham Road and the establishment of the Investment Bank of FATA, envisioned to bring prosperity and provide employment opportunities. Around ₨ 1 billion were spent for the rehabilitation of the IDPs and ₨ 500 million were immediately transferred into the account of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for the economic development in the province.
As of 2006 and present, there are numbers of notable and major international agencies and UN efforts to reconstruct the war-torn areas affected of fighting. As early as 2005, there major government institutions who have been involved in public level to lead the reconstruction, economic development and to bring the quick economic recovery in the war-torn areas, as listed below:
- US Aid
- National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB)
- National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)
- Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA)
- Special Support Group for IDPs (SSG)
- Federal Relief Commission (FRC)
- National Logistics Cell (NLC)
- Frontier Works Organisation (FWO)
- Navy Reconstruction Group (NRG)
Under the 2006–15 program, a nine-year project, over $2.06 billion would be spend for the economic reconstruction of the FATA region, with the U.S. Government has pledged to provide $750 million over a period of 5 years. Since 2010, the engineering units of army, the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and Corps of Engineers and Military Engineering Service, have been active in the area to reconstruct the war-torn areas. Major operations were carried out by the FWO to complete the wide canvas of works, including construction of over 400 km roads, dams, canals and hydroelectric works. The engineering units commenced the work on Gomal Zam Dam in Waziristan with the help of the local tribal people who were employed for this mega project. The Pakistan Army started the political and educational activities after rebuilding the damaged schools and colleges in Waziristan and gave admissions to as many as young tribal teenagers and young men and women in the army institutions since August 2011.
In a debriefing to parliamentarians on 19 October 2011, the ISPR stated that a total of ~3,097 soldiers and personnel were killed and 721 other were permanently disabled in the war on terror. The ISI lost 63 of its personnel owing to targeted assaults on ISI installations. In the same government report, it confirmed that since 2001 a total of ~40,309 Pakistanis, both military and civilian, had lost their lives in the conflict.
In addition, the TTP and central Asian militant groups suffered a staggering number of human casualties, and according to the reports ~20,742 militants had been killed or captured by February 2010. Among these, by November 2007, were 488 foreign fighters killed, 24 others arrested and 324 injured. 220 policemen were killed in fighting in 2007 and 2008. Before all-out fighting broke out in 2003, independent news sources reported only four incidents of deaths of Pakistani forces in 2001 and 2002, in which a total of 20 soldiers and policemen were killed.
The data compiled by the independent South Asia Terrorism Portal website shows that around 63,872 people were killed all across Pakistan including at least 34,106 terrorists, 7,118 security forces personnel and 22,648+ civilians from 2000 to May 2019.
Naushad Ali Khan of Pakistan Government's Research and Analysis, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police in his article Suicide and terrorist attacks and police actions in NWFP, Pakistan has provided details of different activities of the terrorists during 2008. Accordingly, 483 cases were registered with 533 deaths and 1290 injured. Similarly 29 suicidal attacks were recorded, resulting 247 deaths and 695 injuries. During the same period 83 attempts acts of terrorism were foiled by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police.
Issues with War Veterans
Pakistan does not have its own equivalent to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. There is also no federal ministry that looks after veteran affairs. Most of Pakistan's infantry come from lower income, poor families, mainly from the rural areas of the country. They remain unknown from the time of their recruitment, and for the most part, to the time of their leave or death. Because there is no network of support that goes out to veterans, some believe that Pakistan's veterans are facing similar issues like those faced by Vietnam veterans. Politicians hardly ever mention the veterans in speeches or statements. This is because civil society hardly ever inquires or hears about the physical and mental challenges facing Pakistan's veterans. How to re-integrate veterans in to society is an issue that has yet to be addressed.
Since the success of unified military operations in 2009–11, the Waziristan war has been heavily featured in Pakistan media, including in theatre, television, cinema, music, video games and literature. The war also influenced Pakistan's civil society to gather their support for Pakistan Armed Forces through the media miniseries and films that were released throughout the war. Pakistan's rock bands, such as Entity Paradigm, Strings, Call and Mizraab released many patriotic songs to gather support for the Pakistan armed forces to tackle down the insurgency. A popular band in the country, Junoon, released their album, Rock & Roll Jihad and literature Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star's Revolution in 2010.
United States role
The US Ambassador Cameron Munter found it difficult to counter the Anti-American sentiment in the country, especially after the Raymond Davis incident.[relevant? ] The Anti-Americanism sentiment in Pakistan is one of the strongest in the world. The Anti-Americanism has risen as a result of U.S. military drone strikes introduced by President George W. Bush and continued by President Barack Obama as his counter-terrorism policy.[relevant? ] As of present, almost 60%–80% of Pakistanis consider the United States as an enemy combatant state.[relevant? ] The Anti-Americanism has been provoked mainly as a reaction from those who are critical of American CIA activities in Pakistan, such as the infamous break-out of the Raymond Allen Davis incident and American intrusions from Afghanistan border such as the 2011 NATO attack in Pakistan. The credibility of Obama administration was undermined in the country[when?] and, furthermore, approximately 4 in 10 Pakistanis believe that U.S. military and economic aid is having a negative impact on their country; only 1 in 10 believes the impact has been positive. In 2010, Pakistan purchased 1,000 laser-guided bomb kits and 18 F-16 fighter jets from the US.
Economics and Cost of war
Studies and research conducted by Pakistan's leading economists and the financial experts, the war hit Pakistan's national economy "very hard", and the outcomes produced by the war on country's national economy, were surprising and unexpected to Pakistan's military and economic planners. The Pakistani government's economic institutions referred to the conflict as "economic terrorism" and according to Pakistani officials, the indirect and direct cost of the war was around $2.67 billion in 2001–02, which reached up to $13.6 billion by 2009–10, was projected to rise to $17.8 billion in the 2010–11 financial year. The country's national investment-to-GDP ratio has nosedived from 22.5% in 2006–07 which went down to 13.4% in 2010–11 with serious consequences for job creating ability of the economy. The leading English language newspaper, The Nation gave great criticism to United States, and called U.S. role as "economic terrorism" in South Asia.
Until November 2016 the conflict, as well as terrorism in Pakistan, had cost Pakistan $118.3 billion. According to US Congress and the Pakistani media, Pakistan has received about $18 billion from the United States for the logistical support it provided for the counter-terrorism operations from 2001 to 2010, and for its own military operation mainly in Waziristan and other tribal areas along the Durand Line. The Bush administration also offered an additional $3 billion five-year aid package to Pakistan for becoming a frontline ally in its 'War on Terror'. Annual installments of $600 million each split evenly between military and economic aid, began in 2005.
In 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to continue supporting Pakistan and said that Pakistan would be provided economic aid of $1.5 billion each year for the next five years. Unfolding a new US strategy to defeat Taliban and al-Qaeda, Obama said Pakistan must be a 'stronger partner' in destroying al-Qaeda safe havens. In addition, President Obama has also planned to propose an extra $2.8 billion in aid for the Pakistani military to intensify the US-led 'War on Terror' along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The military aid would be in addition to the civilian aid of $1.5 billion a year for the next five years from 2009 onwards.
In his autobiography, President Musharraf wrote that the United States had paid millions of dollars to the Pakistan government as bounty money for capturing al-Qaeda operatives from tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. About 359 of them were handed over to the US for prosecution.
- Economic terrorism
- Terrorism in Pakistan
- Human rights in Pakistan
- Joint warfare
- Sectarianism in Pakistan
- Military history of the North-West Frontier
- Afghanistan–Pakistan relations
- Pakistan–United States relations
- Violence in Pakistan 2006–09 (table and map)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to War in North-West Pakistan.|
- Costs of War by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University
- Pakistan Data Sheets by the South Asia Terrorism Portal
- Pakistan Body Count
- Pakistan Security Reports by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS)
- Pakistan Long War Journal by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
- Human Security Report s by the Human Security Report Project
- Battling Taliban: Where Does It Stop? ongoing coverage from Dawn in Pakistan
- "Waziristan War (2004 – present)". historyguy.com. The History Guy.