Archive for the 'Salala' Category


North Waziristan: the ground realities

I was part of the Pakistan panel at the Syracuse University’s annual conference on security held on March 31st, 2012. I presented on the security situation in North Waziristan and the ground realities in the agency. My slides from the presentation are available here.

General Michael Hayden (former director CIA/NSA) also spoke at the event. He implemented the Patriot Act after 9/11 which gave the government powers to track and intercept communications. It also authorized wiretapping and surveillance amongst other things. I questioned him about the probability of my phone conversations with family and friends in Pakistan being listened into and taped. He assured me that my rights are protected under the 4th amendment!

My research paper on the current situation in North Waziristan published in Syracuse University’s Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis:



NATO attack

Published at Dawn

Last month’s mindless Nato attack on Pakistani posts confirmed the perception that the US always shoots first and asks questions later. It is hardly surprising that Pakistan refused to be a part of the investigation, whose results were announced by the media yesterday, considering that probes conducted after two attacks in 2008 and 2010 in the tribal agencies of Mohmand and Kurram yielded nothing.

According to Pakistan, the US disregarded standard operating procedures for operations close to the border and provided the wrong coordinates. The Afghan intelligence should also be taken to task for apparently misleading the coalition troops.

It is a pity that the coalition’s operational intelligence seems to be influenced by those who are still stuck in the past. Any attack in Afghanistan is immediately followed by a knee jerk reaction of blaming Pakistan.

The leadership role of the US unfortunately comes with the burden of responsibility. One cannot blame tactical failures and lack of operational progress on an ally that is more or less dependent on the US. For its part Pakistan does need to stop providing relief to the Haqqani network within its borders. Even if North Waziristan is cleared coalition difficulties in Afghanistan will not come to an end. The US has withdrawn forces from Helmand and Kandahar and shifted its presence to the eastern provinces bordering North Waziristan.

This manoeuvre should have been done earlier in response to the US ‘mantra’ to do more when Pakistan stated that the US was not prepared to conduct reciprocal operations across the North Waziristan border in Afghanistan. (One often hears statements regarding terrorist safe havens in Pakistan though it is never mentioned that these areas have not been under the writ of the government.)

Meanwhile the insurgent groups in Nuristan and Kunar are thriving since there is no presence of coalition troops in those provinces. These groups continue to conduct insurgency in Pakistan.

Ultimately no one benefits from the Nato crisis. Pakistan is reviewing its relationship with the Americans. With three years left in the region, the time has come for the US to make some fundamental choices in South Asia.

Will the ragtag Afghan National Army with its share of deserters and addicts be able to take control? Pakistan has already paid a gruesome price for taking in three million Afghan refugees during the Soviet invasion, accompanied by the spread of heroin, guns and smuggling in the country. It can hardly host another influx.

In the US, political support of military efforts in Afghanistan is waning and every branch of the US government is facing the threat of sharp budget cuts. For the people of Pakistan, the billions of dollars lavished in American aid on their country does not translate into a free pass to disregard sovereignty, conduct drone strikes and have CIA agents roaming around in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s response to the latest Nato incursion was swift and effective, making it obvious that it can only be pushed so far. So what options are available to move forward?

The US can cut aid to Pakistan in which case it might not be able to use Pakistani airspace for drone strikes in North Waziristan nor will it be able to move supplies through Pakistan to Afghanistan. This is not likely as the US still needs Pakistan to deliver the endgame in Afghanistan.

On the other hand Pakistanis are saying that enough is enough. Thus, for this relationship to continue the US will have to appease the Pakistani population. Also a revised set of rules will set the tone between the two countries till 2014. Perhaps recognition of the sacrifices borne by Pakistan is too much to ask for. Nevertheless, the US needs to understand that American troops will return to their homes, but the Pakistani nation has been shaken and transformed forever with death and destruction becoming a daily reality.

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