The latest spell of Pakistani army operations in the tribal areas is taking place due to enormous pressure exerted by the US on Pakistan in the wake of unceasing attacks on US troops in Afghanistan from across the Pakistani border and the increased US grip on Pakistani army following the A Q Khan affair. Since 9/11 there have been four such operations in the tribal areas aimed at flushing out the Al Qaeda members. In October 2003, the Pakistani army had killed eight Al Qaeda suspects and arrested another 18 along the border with Afghanistan. In January this year, Pakistan government handed over a list to the tribals which contained names of 100 wanted terrorists. 60 of the 100 were caught and handed over to the military by the tribal elders. In late February this year, Pakistani forces captured 20 people in South Waziristan.
Since October last, Pakistan has moved some 70,000 troops to the tribal region. Reports say that around 12,000 military and paramilitary forces are deployed in South Waziristan alone.
The current operations have been inspired by the visit of CIA director George Tenet last month to Pakistan when the modus operandi of the US involvement in the ongoing operations was devised. The pressure will be kept up on the Musharraf regime by the forth-coming visits of US Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Chief of US Central Command, Gen. Abizaid.
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Happymon Jacob is an Associate Professor of Diplomacy and Disarmament at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. ...Read More +