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08PESHAWAR463 2008-09-22 12:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Peshawar
Cable title:  

SECURITY FORCES -- MAKING PROGRESS AGAINST MILITANTS IN

Tags:   TER MOPS PGOV PK 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PESHAWAR 000463 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 9/22/2018
TAGS: TER MOPS PGOV PK
SUBJECT: SECURITY FORCES -- MAKING PROGRESS AGAINST MILITANTS IN
BAJAUR?

REF: A) PESHAWAR 409 B) PESHAWAR 394

CLASSIFIED BY: Michael A. Via, Acting Principal Officer,
Peshawar, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (a), (b), (d)
Summary
-------



1. (C) Pakistan Army contacts told post on September 16 that
they have cleared eastern Bajaur of militants, dismantled their
command and control center there, and now control a crucial 20
km stretch of the main road extending to Khar. Bajaur is a
critical part of an east-west swathe of territory that,
according to local observers, stretches from Kashmir to
Afghanistan's Kunar province, including Swat district and
Mohmand Agency. The east-west link has served as a conduit for
militants to launch cross-border raids in Afghanistan. Although
local contacts are hopeful that the Bajaur operation will
continue until militants throughout the agency are soundly
beaten, joint civil-military planning remains a concept rather
than a reality, hampering opportunities for holding onto the
gains that the Pakistani military appears to have made in recent
weeks. End Summary.

Ground Operations in Bajaur


--------------------------





2. (C) On September 9, Pakistan Army and paramilitary Frontier
Corps (FC) backed by gunship helicopters launched a combined
ground operation against militants in Bajaur Agency of the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The ground campaign
followed more than three weeks of artillery and helicopter
gunship attacks. According to information provided to ODRP
Peshawar, an additional 11th Corps Brigade has been deployed to
support the operation. (Note: A Pakistan Brigade consists of
approximately 3000 soldiers. End note).

Goals and Plans


--------------------------





3. (C) The military operation has three primary goals and five
stages according to an 11th Corps briefing provided to Post's
military liaison officer. The goals are "to restore the
traditional writ of the Government in Bajaur Agency, break the
linkages between various miscreant groups and eliminate
militants." The five stages consist of: build up, clear
Torghundai-Khar road; build up at Khar and open the road between
Khar and Inayat Qila; clear road between Khar and Nawagai; and
link up Kit Kot and Nawa Pass positions. (Comment: The operation
appears to be in the third phase or build up at Khar. End
comment.)



4. (C) Both Pakistan military and civilian contacts claim that
the Bajaur operation has killed over 800 militants during the
operation so far. Unconfirmed reports indicate that some of the
dead militants are Arabs or other foreigners.

Bajaur's Significance for Militants


--------------------------





5. (C) Bajaur, according to local observers, is the command and
control hub for anti-Coalition operations across the border in
northeastern Afghanistan. Pakistan's air strikes targeted homes
used by local taliban commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad. Despite
reports of Faqir's death, he appears to have escaped unharmed by
the bombing campaign thus far. On September 7, Faqir reportedly
vowed to continue "jihad" against America and its allies, and
warned the government to stop the military operation in Bajaur
and other parts of the tribal region.

Volunteer Militias are Confronting the Militants


--------------------------

---



6. (C) The Salarzai tribe in southwestern Bajaur recently formed
lashkars, volunteer militias, to openly confront the militants
in their area north of Khar. The lashkar, whose strength has
been estimated by various contacts from hundreds to thousands,
have burned down homes that sheltered militants and have
promised to accompany Pakistan's security forces on their
patrols.

PESHAWAR 00000463 002 OF 002





7. (C) FATA Secretariat Additional Chief Secretary Habibullah
Khan emphasized to PO on September 15 concerns about militants
crossing over from Afghanistan into Bajaur. While community
leaders in Bajaur's western Salarzai tehsil have risen up
against militants, those in Mahmund tehsil (the heart of the
militants stronghold), he said, are sitting on the fence and
gauging the likely winner in this battle. Reinforcements from
Afghanistan are giving heart to the militants in Mahmund. As
long as community elders in Mahmund, the ACS explained, see
local militants willing and able to put up a good fight,
prospects that the tribes will turn on the militants goes down.

IDPs from Bajaur a Continuing Challenge


--------------------------





7. (C) Bajaur residents continue to move back and forth out of
the province as military operations allow. Some Internally
Displaced Persons (IDP) are staying with relatives, some have
used camps and others remaining in other metro areas. Bajaur
Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Shaukat Ullah told Emboffs
on Sept. 12 that many residents remained outside the province,
some as far away as Rawalpindi and Karachi. Of the IDPs who had
returned to Bajaur, Shaukat predicted that they would again
leave Bajaur within days, filling up the closed camps. He said
that both IDPs and host families were suffering, but agreed it
was difficult to find a way to reach the people inside Bajaur
with humanitarian supplies. Shaukat expected that the Pakistani
Army would manage to pacify main population centers in a few
days, and that residents would return to their homes around the
time of Eid. Consulate contacts estimate that over 200,000 fled
Bajaur to escape the fighting. Many of these internally
displaced persons (IDPs) moved to Peshawar, Dir, Malakand,
Mardan and Rawalpindi to live with relatives or friends. Under
Pashtun cultural norms, IDPs tend to shun relief camps and
instead opt to stay with friends and family, who are themselves
poor and have difficulty supporting such guests.



8. (C) Bajaur Agency consists of seven subdivisions, known as
tehsils. The fighting has been concentrated in the three
tehsils west of Khar -- Nawagai, Mahmund, and Salarzai. Most
towns and villages in these three western tehsils are reportedly
still largely empty. The government has imposed a 24-hour
curfew and blocked the roads. Post contacts who reside in
Bajaur believe it could be months before they can return home to
western Bajaur, placing a strain on the resources of the
families and communities where they have sought refuge.



9. (C) On September 1, Pakistan's military suspended operations
against local taliban militants in Bajaur in honor of Ramadan.
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman, Maulvi Omar, welcomed
the announcement but said militants would not lay down arms.
Qadir told post that the announcement of a Ramadan ceasefire was
for "public consumption" as the government never intended to
halt operations. The Pakistan announcement caused some
confusion among IDPs who were unsure if it was safe to return to
their homes. Most IDPs have not returned home.

Comment


--------------------------





10. (C) While it remains to be seen if the military will
complete all five phases of the Bajaur operation, joint
civil-military planning is still a concept rather than a
reality, undermining the prospects for holding onto the gains
that the Pakistani military hopes to make as the operation
proceeds.



11. (C) While some post contacts see the development of lashkars
and this operation as positive signs, it will take a lot more of
both before we could conclude that results from this operation
will be significantly different than other recent operations in
Hangu (ref A) and Khyber (ref B).
VIA