Pakistan’s military top Commanders would make a final decision on the North Waziristan operation in the next Corps Commanders Conference which may be held sometime this month , Said The Nation quoting ‘Military Sources’ .
Two options are likely to be discussed in the moot: the launch of a full-scale military offensive with the logistical support of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), or a curtailed crackdown in the area through intelligence sharing between the two forces.
Pakistan Army has deployed two Infantry divisions, nine brigades, 23 battalions and 18 Frontier Corps (FC) wings in Waziristan region. Of them, one division, five brigades, 12 battalions and 11 FC wings are deployed in NWA while four brigades, 11 battalions, seven FC wings and a division are deployed in South Waziristan.
“These deployments are not enough for launching a military operation or a major crackdown,” the officials said, adding that additional troops at division level are required to augment the operational strength of regular troops before launching any offensive in NWA.
In this situation, the sources said, Pakistan Army needs the backhand intelligence and logistical support of the NATO forces in case it is to jump into North Waziristan.
All the FC wings comprising Tochi Scouts, Shawal Scouts and Orakzai Scouts in NWA are mostly assigned border patrolling responsibilities and need proper logistical support to assist the regular army troops for a counter-terrorism operation.
ISAF Commander General John Allen’s Thursday visit to Pakistan saw a major headway towards strengthening border cooperation between Afghan National Army (ANA), Western military alliance and Pakistan Army.
General Allen’s visit, officials said, saw renewing of the commitment to work in coordination as per an informal agreement reached between the two sides last year that particularly concerned the NWA operation. The intelligence and military cooperation between the NATO and Pakistan’s military underwent a complete disruption after Salala incident which led to suspension of the NATO supplies into Afghanistan.
In October last year, Pakistan Army and the NATO-led ISAF had reached an understanding envisaging cross-border respective cooperation to take on all the major outfits including Haqqani Network through enhanced coordination at Pak-Afghan borderlands.
According to the understanding, the NATO troops were not to initiate any ground operations in Pakistani tribal areas. Pakistan was to launch crackdowns against the militants without launching a direct or full-scale military offensive in NWA.
And both the sides were to move ahead for the resumption of intelligence cooperation between Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for hunting down the militants on both sides of the border (Intelligence cooperation was stalled after the former US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen termed Haqqani Network as ‘veritable arm of ISI’).
While Pakistan’s military has reportedly agreed to launching crackdown in NWA without going for a large-scale offensive, pressure on Islamabad has mounted to go all-out on Haqqanis.
The last year’s limited crackdowns in NWA did not address Washington’s concerns suggesting that Haqqanis were not targeted in these offensives.