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Archive for October, 2009

Pakistan: trapped in the US game plan

altOctober 21, 2009

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Death from the Skies: An Overview of the CIA’s Drone Campaign in Pakistan – Part One

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Waziristan: A message and a last stand

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The Pakistani army is portraying a confident image but the Taliban are, it would seem, preparing for a last stand in South Waziristan, one that may well take place in the hills of Makeen.

Standing high in the hills of South Waziristan, where I begin to write this blog from, I finally have a chance to see for myself what Pakistan’s army is up against in its fight with the Pakistani Taliban.

The army has banned journalists from travelling to conflict zones in the country, instead offering press briefings and its own videos.

Today is no exception. This is a media event, and dressed in flak jackets and helmets we – both foreign and domestic press – are taken on a tour of key areas the army says are secure.

At each stop we are briefed by the local commander, take a few pictures, are shown key finds such as weapons, ammunition and identity documents, before being whisked away again.

About Imran Khan

Imran Khan's picture Imran Khan, a Doha-based correspondent of Asia Blog, is reporting from across Pakistan

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For the army the trip is a great success, they get their message out – that the war is going their way. But beyond the armies message is another aspect.

For me at least, I experience South Waziristan for the first time. I had always heard it was a tough place, but as I climb a steep hill with a Pakistani army artillery position at the top of it, I get a sense of why Waziris have a reputation as being battle-hardened and fit fighters.

The best way to fight anyone here is to take control of ridges, peaks, hills and mountains. If you running up and down mountains all day, then you’re going to get fit; especially if you are carrying a rocket launcher.

By controlling high ground you are able to attack ground forces with height on your side. It also gives you the ability to deal with helicopter gunships more effectively.

The Pakistani Taliban have been here for years. They’re firmly entrenched. Each position they hold is well hidden and highly armoured. The Pakistani army faces stiff resistance in capturing ground.

But a pattern has emerged – with each position captured, the Taliban fight hard but they also allow other Taliban fighters to move back to more secure areas.

And that’s where the real fight is going to be. As I bounce around on dusty roads in a pick-up truck with a machine gun on top, I ask one of the soldiers if the fighting had been hard so far. His reply is telling.

“We have met stiff resistance, but most of the fighters we have either killed or they have run away. If they have run away, then taking the hills of Makeen will be tough because that’s where they will be.”

So the army portrays a confident image but the Taliban are, it would seem, preparing for a last stand. A last stand that may well take place in the hills of Makeen.

There is no doubt that knowing this terrain well is going to be in their advantage, but helicopter gunships and 3 divisions of the Pakistani army are also nothing to trifle with.

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Secretary Clinton’s Visit to Pakistan: Into the Crucible

October 29, 2009

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Lahore-Terror Attacks: RAW

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