North Waziristan Operation

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After the episode of 9/11, Washington declared Afghanistan the epicenter of international terrorism and jolted Pakistan out of its complacence. With the threat posed by al-Qaeda and the Taliban to the United States and its allies, Pakistan was to account for all Afghan refugees on its soil. Due to the immense world pressure Pakistan started a cleansing operation in the area to find those “most wanted elements”, which got refuge in the natural hide outs of Pak-Afghan border on Pakistani side in March 2004. First of all, it was South Waziristan the Pak army conducted a grand operation to hunt down militants in this area. Pakistani military authorities claim there were 500-600 foreign militants in the South Waziristan area when Army operations first started in early 2004. Of them some 400 have either been killed or captured so far while a remaining 200 still ‘stranded’ in North Waziristan, are now using the Pak-Afghan border strip as their base to launch mid-night guerilla attacks against the US-led Allied Forces in Afghanistan. They are creating trouble for Afghan President Karzai, and are also embarrassing the most-trusted US ally in its war on terror.

Thus when the wanted men slipped away into the North Waziristan tribal region after losing their hideouts, the Pakistan Army shifted the focus of its “anti-terrorist operations” from Wana in South Waziristan to Miranshah in North Waziristan. North Waziristan, which has an area of about 4,707 square mile and a population of around 3,61240 according to the 1998 census. It is an interesting region for historians and researchers as the land produced some brave names who will be remembered for their valor and courage in the anti-colonialist wars in this region. The most important was Mir Zali Khan known as Faqir of Ipi, who struggled against the British colonial raj. Despite official claims to have largely contained insurgents in the two tribal agencies, the North Waziristan area continues to pose a serious challenge. The areas seems to be a stronger base for the al-Qaeda and Taliban militants simply because they own support of at least 70 per cent of the local population.

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