The latest US drone strike in North Waziristan killed nine militants on Tuesday. Four missiles were fired on a vehicle carrying the militants. Earlier on Sunday, six militants were killed by drone attacks. There have been media reports about a possible joint US-Pakistan military operation against militants in North Waziristan. Recently Gen James Mattis, Commander of CENTCOM met General Pervez Kayani to discuss options. Pakistani press reports that locals from the area have confirmed abnormal movement of military convoys. Eid holidays for Pakistani troops deployed in the region were cancelled.
It seems the military leadership of Pakistan and the US have agreed to launch an operation against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and its leader Hakimullah, and then target the Haqqani Network. Last week the US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also mentioned the possible operation, which has been a longstanding US and Afghan demand resisted by the Pakistani military establishment.
The operation appears to be confirmed after the recent Independence Day speech of Pakistani Chief of Army General Kayani at the Pakistan Military Academy. Pakistan Army seems ready to launch the operation they should have conducted long ago. But the expected Taliban reaction is already shown with an attack on the Kamra Airbase, the largest aeronautical base of Pakistan. Following the attack, the Pakistani Taliban in a statement warned that it would use a team of bombers to target troops if operation is launched in North Waziristan.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said they had learnt that the Pakistan Army had drawn up plans for an operation in North Waziristan Agency in the near future and that the Taliban are prepared to mount a fitting response to any operations. He claimed that his group had received “exclusive" intelligence from "sources" in the Pakistan army headquarters. The email from TTP spokesman included information about the regiments and units to participate in the operation, which he said would be launched on August 26 and would last one month.
The US forces are said to increase movements in Afghan bordering areas with North Waziristan to stop their flee. However, it is unclear what the scale and intensity of the Pakistani military operations would be. Whether they will end up with a decisive victory after a very bloody campaign, or a quick ceasefire and deal with militants like the ones they did in South Waziristan and other tribal areas previously.
The bottom-line credit of the war on terror for Pakistan would be to turn the current global reputation deficit with a full-fledge war against militants, not only clearing Pakistani territory in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas from Taliban, the Haqqani Network and Al-Qaeda presence, but also forcing Quetta Shura elements of the Afghan Taliban to either join the negotiations with the US and Karzai Administration or leave their safe havens in Pakistan.
Without the safe havens, manpower and logistical support they enjoy in Pakistan, the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan would be a matter of some small special operations by the US and Afghan forces. Pakistan can truly help NATO and Afghanistan root out the plague of Taliban militancy, if they launch a full-fledge war against them. Otherwise, a military operation in North Waziristan would not help much when Haqqanis and other Afghan militants would be let escape to other agencies in FATA, while the TTP elements against Pakistani Army are eliminated in the operations.