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Will attack Pak army if op launched in N Waziristan: TTP

By Tahir Ali
August 21, 2012 15:23 IST
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Although there are still no signs of a military offensive in North Waziristan by the Pakistan Army, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has said that it is all set to combat the upcoming military operation in the region that according to the outfit, would be launched in the last week of August.

The TTP warns that it is fully prepared to welcome the army with their well-trained suicide bombing squad in North Waziristan.

For the last few years, the Waziristan military operation is one of the leading topics in the media. The United States and Afghanistan blame that the Haqqani network, one of the dreaded Afghan terrorist groups, operates from North Waziristan, while the leadership of TTP is also hiding in this particular region.

Following the massive military operation of 2009 in South Waziristan, the leading commanders of the TTP had relocated to North Waziristan, and have been there ever since. Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the head of all Taliban factions in North Waziristan whose men have not attacked Pakistani security forces since the group signed a peace treaty in October 2006, following a military operation.

Although the peace treaty was scrapped a number of times by Bahadar, but it was immediately reinstated. Washington has been asking for a military operation in North Waziristan, especially against the Haqqani Network, but Islamabad has always shown reluctance to do so.

On Monday, TTP central spokesperson Ihsanullah Ihsan sent an email to the media, revealing that the Taliban's sources in army have informed them that about the plan to operate in North Waziristan, and that the offensive will probably begin from August 26, and will continue for a whole month.

"The TTP has also prepared itself for resistance; we have set up a suicide bomber squad to 'welcome' the army. We will defeat our enemy (Pakistani security forces) who is defending the secular, un-Islamic system of Pakistan by punching them back hard," the email says.

TTP's statement has emerged at a time when the media is already buzzing with news about the impending military operation. There is no statement from the Gul Bahadur group that virtually rules the area. If Pakistan is taking on the TTP, it will also means an end to the peace treaty in North Waziristan.

The TTP is a sworn enemy of the Pakistani security forces, and its last week's attack over the Pakistani air force base in Kamra gave the government enough push to kick-off a military operation against it, but it needs a well-planned policy to attack only the TTP in North Waziristan without harming the Gul Bahadar group -- but it is virtually impossible to comb the TTP men from other factions.

Experts are divided over the issue. "There are no signs of a military operation in North Waziristan. I don't know why the TTP has issued such a statement," said tribal affairs expert Rasool Dawar.

When mediapersons asked Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Masood Kausar in Peshawar about a possible military operation in North Waziristan, his response was, "The decision will be taken at an appropriate time," adding the government had also launched operations in the past keeping  the national interest in view."

On last Thursday, Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Khalid Rabbani, who is also the head of army deployed in North Waziristan, said that no such decision has been taken so far. "There is no such decision is in front of me," Dawn quoted him as saying.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal had reported that the US and Pakistani officials are considering 'joint counter-terrorism' campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"The campaigns would be intended to help stamp out major security threats facing each country, targetting what the US says are sanctuaries for the Haqqani Network, and what Pakistan says are sanctuaries for the Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan," WSJ said in a dispatch on the talks Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam had with his Central Intelligence Agency counterpart David Petraeus as well as officials of the state department and Pentagon.

But the Pakistan army has categorically rejected the report about its readiness to launch 'joint operations' in the North Waziristan Agency.

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