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War in North-West Pakistan
Part of the War on Terrorism
Marriot Hotel Islamabad Pakistan bombing.jpg
View of the hotel after the attack in Islamabad, Pakistan. The bombing was called Pakistan's 9/11.
Date March 16 2004 – ongoing
Location Federally Administered Tribal Areas and North-West Frontier Province in Pakistan
Result Ongoing low-level insurgency
 United States (Drone attacks in Pakistan)
Afghanistan Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan
Afghanistan TNSM
Flag of Jihad.svg Lashkar-e-Islam
Flag of Jihad.svg Foreign Mujahideen
Flag of Jihad.svg Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (until 2007)
Pakistan Pervez Musharraf
Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari
Pakistan Sajjad Ghani
Pakistan Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
Pakistan Masood Aslam
Pakistan Waheed Arshad
Pakistan Athar Abbas
Pakistan Safdar Hussain
Pakistan Tariq Khan
Pakistan Khalid Rabbani
Pakistan Alam Khattak
Pakistan Rao Qamar Suleman
Pakistan Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed
Pakistan Haroon Islam  
Pakistan Muhammad Haroon Aslam
Pakistan Tariq Majid
Pakistan Niaz Khattak
Pakistan Nasser Janjua
Pakistan Ijaz Awan
Pakistan Owais Ahmed Ghani
Pakistan Tariq Hayat
Afghanistan Mohammed Omar
Afghanistan Hakimullah Mehsud 
Osama Bin Laden
Afghanistan Baitullah Mehsud  
Afghanistan Sirajuddin Haqqani
Afghanistan Hafiz Gul Bahadur

Afghanistan Faqir Mohammed  
Afghanistan Maulana Fazlullah
Afghanistan Nek Muhammad Wazir  
Flag of Jihad.svg Mangal Bagh
Flag of Jihad.svg Abdul Rashid Ghazi  
Flag of Jihad.svg Abdul Aziz Ghazi  #
Flag of Jihad.svg Sufi Muhammad  #

140,000 Pakistani troops[1]
~10,000 Frontier Corps
United States
unknown number of UAV drones
20,000 Hakimullah Mehsud's Taliban[2]
4,500~ TNSM militia
7,000~ TTP militia
500~ Al-Qaeda militia[3]
Casualties and losses
3,070 soldiers and policemen killed,[4][5][6][7][8]
235+ tribesmen killed,[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]
857+ soldiers and policemen captured (558 released)
12,487 militants killed[17]
(809 foreign fighters)[18][19]
Over 3.44 million civilians displaced[20]
7,071 civilians killed,[4][17]
foreigners killed
(11 Frenchmen, 4 Chinese, 1 Czech, 1 Dane, 1 Pole, 1 Turk and 1 Vietnamese)[21][22][23]

The War in North-West Pakistan is an armed conflict between the Pakistani Armed Forces and Islamic militants made up of local tribesmen, the Taliban, and foreign Mujahideen (Holy Warriors).[24][25][26] It began in 2004 when tensions rooted in the Pakistani Army's search for al-Qaeda members in Pakistan's mountainous Waziristan area (in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas) escalated into armed resistance.

Clashes erupted between the Pakistani troops and al-Qaeda's and other militants joined by local rebels and pro-Taliban forces. The Pakistani actions were presented as a part of the War on Terrorism, and had connections to the war and Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.[27][28]




July 2002: Initial troop movements

In July 2002, Pakistani troops entered the Tirah Valley in the Khyber Agency for the first time since Pakistan independence in 1947. They proceeded to move into the Shawal Valley of North Waziristan, and later South Waziristan. This was made possible after long negotiations with various tribes, who reluctantly agreed to allow the military's presence on the assurance that it would bring in funds and development work.

However, once the military action started in South Waziristan a number of Waziri sub-tribes viewed the action as an attempt to subjugate them. As attempts to persuade them to hand over the foreign militants failed, and missteps by the authorities increased feelings of ill-will, the security campaign against suspected al-Qaeda militants turned into an undeclared war in 2004 between the Pakistani military and the rebel tribesmen.

December 2003: Waziri attempts on President Musharraf's life

In December 2003, two assassination attempts against President Pervez Musharraf were traced to Waziristan. The government responded by intensifying military pressure on the area, however the fighting was costly and government forces would sustain heavy casualties throughout 2004 and into early 2005 when the government switched to a tactic of negotiation instead of direct conflict.[29]

March 2004 – September 2006

2004: Fighting breaks out

In March 2004, heavy fighting broke out at Azam Warsak, near the South Waziristan town of Wana. Pakistani troops faced an estimated 400 militants holed up in several fortified settlements. It was speculated at the time that Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri was among those trapped by the Pakistani Army, but he either escaped or was never among these fighters.

Peace deals with Taliban

In April 2004 the Government of Pakistan signed the first of three peace agreements with militants in South Waziristan. It was signed with Taliban commander Nek Muhammad Wazir, but was immediately abrogated once Nek Muhammad was killed by American Hellfire missile in June 2004. The second was signed in February 2005 with Nek's successor Baitullah Mehsud, which brought relative calm in the South Waziristan region. This deal will be later mimicked in the neighboring North Waziristan territory in September 2006 as the third and final truce between the government and the militants. However, all of these truces would not have a substantial effect in reducing bloodshed.[29] The later two deals were officially broken in August 2007 with the Lal Masjid siege, which raised the suicide attacks on Pakistani forces ten-fold throughout the country.


On May 4, 2005, Pakistani commandos captured Abu Faraj al-Libbi after a raid outside the town of Mardan, 30 miles northeast of Peshawar. Abu Farraj al-Libbi was a high ranking al-Qaeda official, rumored to be third after Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Libbi replaced Khalid Shaikh Mohammed after his arrest in March 2003 in connection with the September 11th attacks. The Pakistani government arrested al-Libbi and held him on charges in relation to being a chief planner in two assassination attempts on the life of President Pervez Musharraf in December 2003.[30]



On January 13, 2006, the U.S. launched an airstrike on the village of Damadola. The attack occurred in the Bajaur tribal area, about 7 km (4.3 mi) from the Afghan border, and killed at least 18 people. The attack again targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, but later evidence suggests he was not there.

On March 4, 2006, Pakistani forces started a massive assault on pro-Taliban elements in the region. Pakistani officials said 46 militants and five soldiers died after fighting erupted, although some reports put the death toll at over 70.[citation needed]

On June 21, 2006, pro-Taliban militants in the Bannu region of North Waziristan stated they shot down a Bell military helicopter that was reported to have crashed. The government denied missile fire as the cause, stating it was due to technical faults. The helicopter had taken off from a base camp in Bannu at around 7am for Miramshah and crashed 15 minutes later into the Baran Dam in the Mohmandkhel area on Wednesday morning. Four soldiers were killed including Captain Shams (pilot), Captain Faisal (co-pilot), Lance Naik Ikram and sepoy Altaf, while three other, Sardar Ali, Waseem Abbas and Mohammad Arshad, were rescued.[31] On the same day militants killed an inspector and two constables on a road connecting Bannu and the main town of Miranshah.[32]

June 2006: Ceasefire

Also on June 21, 2006 the military head of the Taliban in Waziristan, Sirajuddin Haqqani, issued a decree that it was no longer Taliban policy to fight the Pakistan Army. This marked the end of significant fighting in South Waziristan, however the Taliban intentionally did not circulate the decree in North Waziristan thereby keeping pressure on the Government as the terms for a comprehensive accord were worked out.[33]

On June 26, 2006, a suicide car bomber killed nine Pakistani soldiers. Officials say that the explosives-laden vehicle detonated about six kilometres (four miles) east of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan region.[34]

September 2006: Waziristan peace accord signed

On September 5, 2006, the Waziristan Accord, an agreement between tribal leaders and the Pakistani government was signed in Miranshah, North Waziristan.[35] to end all fighting. The agreement includes the following provisions:[36]

  • The Pakistani Army will help reconstruct infrastructure in tribal areas of North and South Waziristan.
  • The Pakistani Military will not tolerate any assistance to intruders in North Waziristan, and will monitor actions in the region.
  • The Pakistan government is to compensate tribal leaders for the loss of life and property of innocent tribesmen.
  • “Foreigners” (informally understood to be foreign jihadists) are not allowed to use Pakistani territory for any terrorist activity anywhere in the world.
  • 2,500 foreigners who were originally held on suspicion of having links to the Taliban[37] were to be detained for necessary action against them.

The agreement, dubbed the Waziristan accord, has been viewed by some political commentators as a success for Pakistan.[38] Further details of the agreement, as well as comments on the agreement made by US, Pakistani, and Taliban spokesmen is available in the Waziristan accord article.

October 2006: The madrassa air strike

On October 30, 2006, the Pakistani army conducted an air strike against a madrassa in the Bajaur region bordering Afghanistan. The madrassa was destroyed killing 70 to 80 people.

In retaliation for the attack the militants conducted a suicide bombing on an army camp on November 8, 2006, killing 42 Pakistani soldiers and wounding 20.

March – April 2007

In March, Pakistan signed a peace treaty with Faqir Mohammed, the Taliban leader in Bajaur.[39][40] The Taliban now held three districts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas: South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Bajaur Agency.[41]

Waziri-Uzbek tensions

Reportedly, the fighting sparked by the killing of Saiful Adil, an al-Qaeda-linked Arab, blamed on the Uzbeks by Maulavi Nazir, described as a top pro-Taliban militant commander in the region. According to the other version, fighting started after Mullah Nazir, whom the government says has come over to its side, ordered the Uzbek followers of Tohir Yo‘ldosh, formerly a close confidant of Osama bin Laden, to disarm. It was also preceded by the clashes between the IMU and a pro-government tribal leader in Azam Warsak, in which 17 to 19 people died before a ceasefire was announced.[42]

Defeat of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, tried to stop the fighting but failed. Local Taliban militants allied to the tribesmen were reported attacking and seizing the IMU's private jail in Azam Warsak. The Pakistan Army said it did not intend to step in, but witnesses say government artillery fired on the Uzbek bunkers they set up to fight the tribesmen.

Heavy fighting resumed on March 29, ending a week-long ceasefire between tribal fighters and foreign militants. According to initial reports, tribesmen attacked a checkpoint manned by Uzbek militants and captured two of them. The clashes also left one tribal fighter dead and three wounded. The following day, a senior Pakistani official announced that 52 people were killed during the past two days, 45 of them Uzbeks and the rest tribesmen. One of Maulvi Nazir's aides put the death toll at 35 Uzbeks and 10 tribal fighters. However, residents in the area said that the death toll on both sides was inflated.

The conflict further escalated on April 2 when a council of elders declared jihad against foreign militants and started to raise an army of tribesmen. According to Pakistani security officials, heavy fighting concentrated in the village of Doza Ghundai left more than 60 people dead, including 50 foreigners, 10 tribal fighters and one Pakistani soldier. He also said that "dozens" of Uzbeks had surrendered to tribal forces and that many bunkers used by militants were seized or destroyed.

On April 12, 2007 the army general in charge of South Waziristan said that tribal fighters had cleared the Uzbeks out of the valleys surrounding Wana and the foreign militants had been pushed back into the mountains on the Afghan border.[43] Four days later, the local tribesmen has urged Islamabad to resume control of law and order in the area.[44]

July 2007 – February 2008

Lal Masjid siege

On July 3, 2007, the militant supporters of Lal Masjid and Pakistani security forces clashed in Islamabad after the students from the mosque attacked a nearby government ministry building with stones. Their resultant faceoff with the military escalated, despite the intervention of then-ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Q) leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq. The Pakistani security forces immediately put up a siege around the mosque complex which lasted until July 11 and resulted in 108 deaths. This represented the main catalyst for the conflict and eventual breakdown of the truce that existed between Pakistan and the Taliban. Already during the siege there were several attacks in Waziristan in retaliation for the siege.

Truce in Waziristan broken

As the siege in Islamabad ensued, several attacks on Pakistani troops in Waziristan were reported. On July 14, 2007, a suicide bomber attacked a Pakistani Army convoy killing 25 soldiers and wounding 54. On July 15, 2007, two suicide bombers attacked another Pakistani Army convoy killing 16 soldiers and 5 civilians and wounding another 47 people. And in a separate incident a fourth suicide bomber attacked a police headquarters killing 28 police officers and recruits and wounding 35 people.[45][46] The assault on the Red Mosque prompted pro-Taliban rebels along the border with Afghanistan to scrap the controversial Waziristan Accord with the government.[47]

The new war in Waziristan

The Army moved large concentration of troops into Waziristan and engaged in fierce clashes with militants in which at least 100 militants were killed including wanted terrorist and former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Abdullah Mehsud.[48] The militants also struck back by attacking Army convoys, security check points and sending suicide bombers killing dozens of soldiers and police and over 100 civilians. In one month of fighting during the period from July 24 to August 24, 2007, 250 militants and 60 soldiers were killed. On September 2, 2007, just a few dozen militants led by Baitullah Mehsud managed to ambush a 17-vehicle army convoy and captured an estimated 247 soldiers without a shot being fired, an event that shocked the nation.[49] Several officers were among the captured.

After the army returned to Waziristan, they garrisoned the areas and set up check-points, but the militants hit hard. In mid-September Taliban forces attacked a number of Pakistani army outposts all across North and South Waziristan. This resulted in some of the heaviest fighting of the war. Following the Lal Masjid Siege, On September 12, 2007, the first outpost was attacked and overrun by the Taliban resulting in the capture of 12 Pakistani soldiers. The next day on September 13, 2007, a suicide bomber in Tarbela Ghazi attacked a Pakistani army base, destroying the main mess hall and killing 20 members of the Karrar commando group; Pakistan's most elite army unit. A series of attacks ensued and by September 20, 2007 a total of five Pakistani Army military outposts had been overrun and more than 25 soldiers captured. More than 65 soldiers were either killed or captured and almost 100 wounded. A little over two weeks later, the Army responded with helicopter gunships, jet fighters and ground troops. They hit militant positions near the town of Mir Ali. In heavy fighting over four days, 257 people were killed, including 175 militants, 47 soldiers and 35 civilians.

Battle of Swat Valley

By the end of October fighting erupted in the Swat district of the North-West Frontier Province, with a large Taliban force, under the command of Maulana Fazlullah, trying to impose Sharia law. Around 3,000 paramilitary soldiers were sent to confront them. After almost a week of heavy fighting the battle came to a standstill with both sides suffering heavy casualties. Then on November 1 and November 3, 220 paramilitary soldiers and policemen surrendered or deserted after a military position on a hill-top and two police stations were overrun. This left the Taliban in control of most of the Swat district.

The fighting in Swat is the first serious insurgent threat from pro-Taliban forces in what is known as a settled area of Pakistan. Forces loyal to Maulana Fazlullah, including some foreign fighters, after taking control of a series of small towns and villages, tried to implement strict Islamic law in November 2007. In mid-November the regular army was deployed with the help of helicopter gunships to crush the uprising. The Pakistan Army deployed over 2,500 men. By the beginning of December the fighting had ended and the Army recaptured Swat. Almost 400 pro-Taliban fighters were dead along with 15 Pakistani soldiers and 20 civilians in the military offensive.[50] Despite the victory by the Pakistani army, Taliban militants slowly re-entered Swat over the coming months and started engaging security forces in battles that lasted throughout 2008. By early February 2009, the Taliban had regained control of at least 80 percent of the district.[51]

The Rawalpindi attacks

The city of Rawalpindi, which is the military headquarters of the Pakistan Armed Forces, was an attractive target for the militants and they were planning to hit the city.[citation needed] On September 3, two suicide bombers targeted a military intelligence (ISI) bus and a line of cars carrying ISI officers. The bus attack killed a large number of Defence Ministry workers and the other attack killed an Army colonel. In all 31 people, 19 soldiers and 12 civilians, were killed. Over two months later on November 24, one of the targets was a military intelligence bus. Almost everyone on the bus was killed. The other bomber blew up at a military checkpoint. 35 people were killed, almost all military.[citation needed]

State of emergency

The 2007 Pakistani state of emergency was declared by Pervez Musharraf on 2007-11-03 and lasted until 2007-12-15. During this time the constitution of the country was suspended.[52][53] This action and its responses are generally related to the controversies surrounding the re-election of Musharraf during the presidential election that had occurred on 2007-10-06, and also was claimed by the government to be the reaction to the actions by Islamic militants in Waziristan.[54]

Benazir Bhutto's assassination

On December 27, 2007, Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed upon leaving a political rally for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.[55][56] A suicidal assassin reportedly fired shots in Bhutto's direction just prior to detonating an explosive pellet-laden vest, killing approximately 24 people and wounding many more.[57][58][59] Musharraf and the army blamed the attack on Al-Qaida, but the following day a statement by Commander Baitullah Mehsud was sent to the media saying that he and Al-Qaida had no involvement in the murder of the former Prime Minister, he briefed that these were the crimes of Musharraf and the army. The killing was followed by a wave of violence across the country that left 58 people dead, including four police officers. Most of the violence was directed at Musharraf and the pro-Musharraf political party, Pakistan Muslim League (Q). The public chanted slogans against the army and Musharraf: "Musharraf Dog", "General is a murderer", "uniform (army) wearing murderers", etc. Bhutto had previously survived an assassination attempt made on her life during her homecoming which left 139 people dead and hundreds wounded.[60]

More fighting in South Waziristan

In January 2008, pro-Taliban militants overran Sararogha Fort, and may have overrun a fort in Ladah as well. Both forts are in South Waziristan, and were held by the Pakistani army.[61] On February 25, 2008, a suicide bomber struck in the garrison-town of Rawalpindi killing Pakistani Lt. Gen. Mushtaq Baig along with two more soldiers and five civilians. Baig was the highest-level military official to be assassinated since Pakistan joined the war on terror.[62][63]

At least 45 people died and 82 were wounded in a suicide attack on the funeral February 29, 2008 of a district superintendent of police – killed earlier in the day in a separate attack – in Swat province.[64]

Operation Zalzala

A full-fledged security operation called 'Zalzala' (earthquake) by Pakistan Army’s 14th Infantry Division in January to flush out Baitullah Mehsud's Taliban militants from the area. Until then the area was infested with pro-Taliban militants, with some villagers providing them support and shelter. Many militants were killed during the operation, and within three days the security forces were in full control of the area. The army later captured a few other villages and small towns to put the squeeze on Baitullah Mehsud.[65]

However, the operation led to a huge displacement of local population. According to 14 Division GOC Maj Gen Tariq Khan, about 200,000 people, including men, women and children, were displaced. Khalid Aziz, former NWFP chief secretary and expert on tribal affairs, said the displacement was "one of the biggest in tribal history" adding that human cost of the conflict in Waziristan "has gone unrecorded."[66]

Peace agreement

On February 7, 2008, a leading militant group led by Baitullah Mehsud offered a truce and peace negotiations resulting in a suspension of violence.[67]

On May 21, 2008 Pakistan signed a peace agreement with Taliban fighters. Pakistan's government promised to "gradually" pull out troops from the northwestern valley of Swat. In return the Taliban were due to shut down training camps, hand over foreign fighters and halt suicide attacks on government installations and security forces under the 15-point pact.[68]

June 2008 – January 2009

Despite the agreement sporadic fighting continued until late June and escalated with the takeover of the town of Jandola on June 24, by the militants. 22 pro-government tribal fighters were captured and executed by the Taliban at that time.[69]

There had been growing concern about threats to Peshawar from Taliban fighters. In early June, a Taliban force from Khyber entered the city and seized 16 Christians, before later releasing them. Mahmood Shah, a former security chief in the tribal regions, said: "The situation is such that [the Taliban] are all around Peshawar. They are on our doorstep."[70]

On June 28, 2008, Pakistan's Army started an offensive against Taliban fighters in Khyber, codenamed Operation Sirat-e-Mustaqeem. The military took control of a key town and demolished an insurgent group's building. 1 militant was reportedly killed while 2 soldiers died in Swat valley.[71] The operation was halted in early July.

On July 6, 2008, a suicide bomber attacked a police station in Islamabad killing 12 policemen and seven civilians in a rally marking the first anniversary of Lal Masjid siege.[72]

On July 12, 2008, militants ambushed a military convoy killing 17 soldiers.[citation needed]

On July 19, 2008, clashes erupted between the Taliban and a rival faction of alleged pro-government Taliban militants. 10-15 of the pro-government fighters were killed and another 120 were captured. Among the captured were two commanders who were tried under "Islamic" law by the Taliban and then executed.

On July 21, 2008, heavy fighting in Baluchistan killed 32 militants, 9 soldiers and 2 civilians. More than two dozen militants were captured and a large weapons cache was found.[73] Between July 28 and August 4, 2008, heavy fighting flared up in the northwestern Swat valley leaving 94 militants and 22 soldiers and policemen dead. Another 28 civilians were also killed.[74]

Bajaur offensive starts

Heavy fighting erupted on August 6, 2008, in the Loisam area of Bajaur district. Loisam lies on the strategically important road leading towards the main northwestern city of Peshawar. The fighting started when hundreds of militants poured into the area attacking government forces. After four days of fighting on August 10 the military withdrew from the area. 100 militants and 9 soldiers were confirmed killed and another 55 soldiers were missing, at least three dozen of them captured by the militants.[75][76] While the fighting was going on in Bajaur, in the Buner area of North West Frontier Province militants killed at least nine policemen in an attack on a check post.[77] The checkpoint was then abandoned, and the local Pakistani forces withdrew to Khar, the main town of Bajaur Agency. There were reports that the town of Khar was then besieged by tribal militants.[78]

On August 21, 2008, in response to the military offensive in Bajaur, two suicide bombers attacked the Pakistan Ordnance Factories in Wah while workers were changing shifts. The attack killed at least 70 people.[79]

On August 23, 2008, at least 15 people were killed in a suicide attack at a police check post in Char Bagh area of Swat. Also, three persons including two kids were killed in a bomb blast in Abuha.[80]

Tribesmen declare war against the Taliban

By the beginning of September 2008, Pakistani tribal elders began organising a private army of approximately 30,000 tribesmen to fight the Taliban. A lashkar, or private army, composed of Pakistani tribesmen, began torching the houses of Taliban commanders in Bajaur, near the Afghan border, vowing to fight them until they are expelled.

A local jirga decided to form the lashkar in the wake of the increasing presence of the local Taliban in the area. The lashkar began torching houses, including the house of a local Taliban commander named Naimatullah, who had occupied several government schools and converted them into seminaries. A tribal elder named Malik Munsib Khan, who heads the lashkar, said that tribesmen would continue their struggle until the Taliban were expelled from the area, adding that anyone found sheltering Taliban militants would be fined one million rupees and their houses will be torched. The tribesmen also torched two important centres of the Taliban in the area and gained control of most of the tehsil.

The main reasons for this was that the operations that were taking place in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas had displaced some 300,000 people while dozens of citizens have been killed in clashes between the militants and military. Since the start of Pakistan's war against the Taliban some 150,000 tribesmen have sided with them.[81][82][82]

US support and aid for Pakistani tribesmen

Recent American military proposals outlines an intensified effort to enlist tribal leaders in the frontier areas of Pakistan in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, as part of a broader effort to bolster Pakistani forces against militancy in the region.

The proposal is modeled in part on a similar effort by American forces in Iraq that has been hailed as a great success in fighting foreign insurgents there. But it raises the question of whether such partnerships can be forged without a significant American military presence in Pakistan. And it is unclear whether enough support can be found among the tribes. Small numbers of United States military personnel have served as advisers to the Pakistani Army in the tribal areas, giving planning advice and helping to integrate American intelligence. Under this new approach, the number of advisers would increase.

American officials said these security improvements complemented a package of assistance from the Agency for International Development and the State Department for the seven districts of the tribal areas that amounted to $750 million over five years, and would involve work in education, health and other sectors. The State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is also assisting the Frontier Corps with financing for counternarcotics work.[83][84][85]

Islamabad Marriott Hotel Bombing

On September 23, 2008, the Pakistani Army, backed by helicopter gunships and artillery killed more than 60 insurgents in northwest Pakistan in offensives as the response to the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing over the weekend at the Marriott hotel in the capital Islamabad that killed 53 people. In the nearby Bajur tribal region, the Army killed at least 10 militants, according to government officials.[86] The Bajur operations, which the army says has left more than 700 suspected militants dead, has won praise from U.S. officials.[87]

Renewed Bajaur offensive

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari publicly vowed revenge in response to the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing. By September 26, 2008, Pakistani troops had successfully conducted and completed a major offensive in the Bajaur and the Tang Khata regions of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, codenamed Operation Sherdil. Pakistani troops had killed over 1,000 militants in a huge offensive, a day after President Asif Ali Zardari lashed out at US forces over a clash on the Afghan border.

Tariq Khan, Inspector General of the Paramilitary Frontier Corps, mentioned to journalists that since the beginning of the Bajaur operations, there were up to 2,000 militant fighters including hundreds of foreigners who were fighting with the soldiers and the security forces. The overall death toll was over 1,000 militants and also adding that 27 Pakistani soldiers had also been killed with 111 soldiers seriously wounded.[88][89]

Five top Al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders were among those killed in a month-long operation in Bajaur. Of the five militant commanders killed, four appeared to be foreigners: Egyptian Abu Saeed Al-Masri; Abu Suleiman, an Arab; an Uzbek commander named Mullah Mansoor; and an Afghan commander called Manaras. The fifth was a Pakistani commander named only Abdullah, a son of ageing hardline leader Maulvi Faqir Mohammad who is based in Bajaur and has close ties to Al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri.[90][91]

Between October 22 and October 24, security forces engaged in another push against militants in the restive Bajaur and Khyber tribal regions. Air strikes were carried out in the Nawagai and Mamond sub-districts of Bajaur Agency. The troops destroyed several centres of Taliban fighters at Charmang, Chinar and Zorbandar and had inflicted heavy losses on them. Gunship helicopters shelled in Charming, Cheenar, Kohiand Babarha areas of Nawagai and Mamund Tehsil of Bajaur agency, destroying various underground hideouts and bunkers of militants. The security forces had also taken control of different areas of Loisam, a militant headquarters, and advanced towards other areas for complete control.[92][93]

Intensified U.S. strikes

An MQ-9 taking off in Afghanistan.

Since the end of August 2008, the United States had stepped up its attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.[94] On September 3 a commando attack took place in a village near the Afghan border in South Waziristan, and there have been 3 strikes from unmanned drones in North Waziristan, culminating on the morning of September 8, 2008, when a United States Air Force drone aircraft fired a number of missiles at a "guest house for militants arriving in North Waziristan", which unsuccessfully targeted Jalaluddin Haqqani, killed 23 people.[95]

On September 25, 2008, following exchanges of gunfire between US and Pakistani forces on the frontier, President Zardari told the United Nations that Pakistan would not tolerate violations of its sovereignty, even by its allies. The incident happened after two US military helicopters came under fire from the Pakistani side, a US military spokesman said, insisting that they had been about a mile and a half inside Afghanistan.

President Zardari told the United Nations, "Just as we will not let Pakistani's territory to be used by terrorists for attacks against our people and our neighbours, we cannot allow our territory and our sovereignty to be violated by our friends," he said, without citing the United States or the border flareup.[90]

Taliban targeting of tribesmen

On October 10, 2008, Islamic militants beheaded four kidnapped pro-government tribal elders in the Charmang area of Bajaur on Friday. The militants had killed them because elders were pro-Government.[96][97]

On October 11, 2008, a suicide bomber struck an anti-Taliban gathering of tribal elders, killing at least 110 anti-taliban tribesmen and wounding 125 others. The suicide bomber drove his car into the gathering itself and blew himself up. The attack on the tribal council took place in Orakzai, normally a relatively quiet corner of the nation's restive tribal areas.[98][99]

Fighting for the NATO supply lines

On October 19, 2008, the Pakistan Army was locked in a fierce battle with the Taliban to keep open the fuel and arms supply routes to British and American forces in Afghanistan. For months, the Taliban had been trying to either attack or seal off the supply routes. The army claimed that Mohammad Tariq Alfridi, the militant commander, had seized terrain around the mile-long Kohat tunnel, south of Peshawar, three times since January. He had coordinated suicide bomb attacks and rocket strikes against convoys emerging from it. Maulvi Omar, a Taliban spokesman, said that his fighters would lay down their arms if the Pakistan Army ceased fighting. The Pakistan Army ignored his offer. The battle for the tunnel began at the start of the year when Taliban fighters seized five trucks carrying weapons and ammunition. They held the tunnel for a week before they were driven out in fierce fighting with the Army. Since then, Tariq and his men have returned several times to attack convoys. The army launched its latest onslaught after a suicide bomb attack at one of its bases near the tunnel six weeks ago. Five people were killed and 45 were injured, including 35 soldiers, when a pickup truck packed with explosives was driven into a checkpoint.[100]

On November 11, 2008, militants attacked two convoys at the Khyber Pass capturing 13 trucks which were headed for Afghanistan. One convoy was from the United Nations World Food Programme and was carrying wheat. The second was intended for NATO troops and one of the captured trucks was carrying with it two U.S. military Humvees, which were also seized.[101]

On December 8, 2008, militants torched more than 160 vehicles destined for US-led troops in Afghanistan. The militants attacked the Portward Logistic Terminal in the northern city of Peshawar at around 02:30 AM, destroying its gate with a rocket-propelled grenade and shooting dead a guard. They then set fire to about 100 vehicles, including 70 Humvees, which shipping documents showed were being shipped to the US-led coalition forces and the Afghan National Army. At the same time, militants torched about 60 more vehicles at the nearby Faisal depot, which like Portward is on the ring road around Peshawar, where convoys typically stop before heading for the Khyber Pass.[102]

On February 3, 2009, militants blew up a bridge at the Khyber Pass, finally cutting the major supply line for Western troops in Afghanistan. After the attack supplies along the route had been halted "for the time being", according to NATO.

January 2009 – Present

Swat ceasefire

Pakistan agreed to impose Sharia law and suspend military operations in the scenic Swat Valley. The decision is troubling for the United States, which believes that it will embolden militants who are fighting US-led troops in Afghanistan and want to impose Islamic law across nuclear-armed Pakistan. US officials believe that it will now provide another safe haven for the militants within 80 miles of Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, as well as a corridor between the Afghan border and the disputed region of Kashmir.

Pakistani officials said that it was the only way to pacify a fierce Islamist insurgency and avoid more civilian casualties in Swat – whose ski resort and mountain scenery once made it a popular tourist destination. Amir Haider Khan Hoti, the chief minister for the North West Frontier Province, announced the Government’s decision after a meeting with militant leaders in the provincial capital, Peshawar. He said that local authorities would impose Islamic law across Malakand region, which includes Swat. Officials said that Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani President, would sign off on the deal once peace had been restored. The agreement came the day after the Taleban in Swat said that it would observe a ten-day ceasefire in support of the peace process. Pakistani officials say that the laws allow Muslim clerics to advise judges, but do not outlaw female education, music or other activities banned by the Taliban.[103]

Defeat of the Taliban in Bajaur

On March 1, 2009, the Pakistan Army finally defeated the Taliban and other Islamist militants in Bajaur, which was a strategically important region on the Afghan border. Major-General Tariq Khan, who was commanding the military operations in five of the seven agencies, said his Army and the Frontier Corps had killed most militants in Bajaur, the smallest of the agencies but a major infiltration route into Afghanistan, after a six-month offensive. By the time the six-month long battle in Bajaur was over, the Pakistan Army killed over 1,500 militants while losing 97 of their own soldiers and another 404 soldiers seriously injured.[104]

Taliban counter-attack

On March 30, Taliban commandos once again struck in Lahore. This time they attacked the Munawan Police Academy killing and taking hostage police cadets. A siege was under way for about eight hours after the Taliban had barricaded themselves in the academy. Eventually police forces managed to retake the compound. 18 people were killed in the attack: eight policemen, eight Taliban and two civilians. At least 95 policemen were wounded and 10 were taken hostage before being rescued. Four Taliban gunmen were captured by the police.

On April 4, a suicide bomber attacked a military camp in Islamabad killing eight soldiers. Less than 24 hours later on April 5, two more suicide attacks occurred. One bomber targeted a market on the border with Afghanistan killing 17 people and the other attacked a mosque in Chakwal, in the eastern Pakistani province of Punjab, killing 26 more civilians. The next day, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, promised that there were to be two suicide attacks per week in the country until the Pakistani army withdraws from the border region and the United States stops its missile attacks by unmaned drones on militant bases.

Taliban violate Swat deal

In March 2009, many Pakistanis were horrified when a videotape surfaced that showed Taliban enforcers publicly whipping a 17-year-old girl in Swat accused of having an affair. The girl had not committed fornication or adultery but was flogged simply because she refused her brother's demand to marry someone of his choosing. Protests broke out all over Pakistan to demonstrate against the flogging. Raja Zafar ul-Haq, a well-respected Pakistani Islamic scholar and political activist said this summary punishment of flogging simply for refusing a marriage proposal was totally un-Islamic and had nothing to do with Sharia. He went on to say that Prophet Muhammad had strictly forbidden the practice of forced marriages and in this case, the girl had not done anything wrong by refusing a marriage proposal.[105]

In Buner, the Taliban continued their criminal activities when residents said Taliban fighters had been stealing cattle for meat, stealing other livestock, berating men without beards and recruiting teenagers into their ranks. The Taliban also began to steal vehicles belonging to government officials and ransacked the offices of some local non-government organisations for no apparent reason.[106] 12 schoolchildren were killed by a bomb contained in a football.[107]

Second Battle of Swat

On April 26, 2009, the Pakistani Army started operation Black Thunderstorm, with the aim of retaking Buner, Lower Dir, Swat and Shangla districts from the Taliban after the militants took control of the since the start of the year.

The operation largely cleared the Lower Dir district of Taliban forces by April 28 and Buner by May 5. On May 5, operations started to retake Swat and later on Shangla. Fighting in Swat was particularly fierce since the Taliban threw away their insurgent tactics and the Army their counter-insurgency tactics. Both sides favored more conventional frontline warfare as a means of fighting each other. By May 14, the military was only six kilometers south of Mingora, the Taliban-held capital city of Swat, and preparations for all-out street fighting was under way.

On May 23, the battle for Mingora started and by May 27, 70 percent of the city was cleared of militants.

On May 30, the Pakistani military had taken back the city of Mingora from the Taliban, calling it a significant victory in its offensive against the Taliban. However, some sporadic fighting was still continuing on the city's outskirts.[108][109]

In all, according to the military, 128 soldiers and more than 1,475 militants were killed and 317 soldiers were wounded during operation Black Thunderstorm. 95 soldiers and policemen were captured by the militants, 18 of them were rescued while the fate of the others remained undetermined. 114 militants were captured, including some local commanders. At least 23 of the militants killed were foreigners.

Sporadic fighting throughout Swat continued up until mid-June. On June 14, the operation was declared over and the military had regained control of the region. Only small pockets of Taliban resistance remained and the military started mopping up operations.

This led to a refugee crisis, and by August 22, 1.6 million of 2.3 million have returned home according to UN estimates.[110][111]

Blockade of South Waziristan

On June 16, 2009, in the aftermath of the successful victory and recapture of the entire Swat valley, the Pakistan Army began a massive troop build-up along the southern and eastern borders of South Waziristan. Pakistan was now taking the fight to Mehsud's mountainous stronghold, ordering an expansion of its current offensive against Taliban fighters in the Swat valley. On Sunday night, denouncing Mehsud as "the root cause of all evils," Owais Ghani, the governor of the North-West Frontier Province, said the government has called on the army to launch a "full-fledged" military operation to eliminate Mehsud and his estimated 20,000 men. The crucial battle may prove to be the most difficult that Pakistan's military has faced on its soil in recent years.

On July 3, 2009, Taliban militants Saturday claimed responsibility for a military helicopter crash that killed 41 people in the rugged tribal area in the country's north. However, a military spokesman rejected the claim, reiterating that the helicopter had crashed due to a 'technical fault.' 41 security personnel, including 19 personnel of the paramilitary Frontier Crops, 18 regulars from the army and four crew members, on board a military transport helicopter were killed when it crashed in Chapri Ferozkhel area on the border of Khyber and Orakzai tribal regions on Friday afternoon.[112]

Islamabad's decision to launch the offensive against Mehsud signals a deepening of Pakistani resolve against the militants. The army has targeted the Taliban leader on three separate occasions — in 2004, 2005 and 2008 — but walked away each time after signing ruinous "peace deals" that have only served to embolden Mehsud. But the military appears more determined this time. It also enjoys the backing of a government that has gained public support as the recent wave of terrorist attacks has heightened revulsion against the Taliban.[2]

Killing of Baitullah Mehsud

Leader of Taliban in Pakistan Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack in early August 2009, and this was later confirmed by captured chief spokesman Maulvi Umar.[113] He was replaced by Hakimullah Mehsud.

Taliban October-November 2009 counter-offensive

In early October 2009, the Taliban started a string of attacks in cities across Pakistan. The goal of the attacks was to show that the Taliban were still a united fighting force following the death of their leader and to disrupt a planned military offensive into South Waziristan. Places targeted include the U.N. World Food Program offices in Islamabad,[114] Khyber bazaar in Peshawar,[115] Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, a market in Shangla,[116] security establishments in Lahore,[117][118] police stations in Kohat and Peshawar, the International Islamic University in Islamabad,[119] and Pakistan Air Force Complex in Kamra. The month ended with a car bombing of Meena Bazaar, Peshawar killing 118 civilians.[120] The army then began a ground offensive in South Waziristan.

November saw suicide bombings of the Army's National Bank of Pakistan in Rawalpindi,[121] a market in Charsadda and six bombings of Peshawar including the regional headquarters of the ISI and the Judicial Complex.[122][123][124]

South Waziristan offensive

On October 17, the Pakistani Army launched a large-scale offensive in South Waziristan involving 28,000 troops advancing across South Waziristan from three directions.[125]

On October 19, the first town to fall to the Army was Kotkai, the birthplace of the Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. However, the next day, the Taliban re-took the town from the military. Troops had thrust into Kotkai only to be hit by a determined counteroffensive that killed seven soldiers, including an army major, and wounded seven more.[126] Still, the Army managed to take the town once again on October 24, after days of bombardments.[127]

On October 29, the town of Kaniguram, which was under the control of Uzbek fighters from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, was surrounded.[128] And on November 2, Kaniguram was taken.[129]

On November 1, the towns of Sararogha and Makin were surrounded,[130] and fighting for Sararogha started on November 3.[131] The fighting there lasted until November 17, when the town finally fell to the military. The same day, the town of Laddah was also captured by the Army and street fighting commenced in Makin. Both Sararogha and Laddah were devastated in the fighting.[132]

By November 21, more than 570 militants and 76 soldiers were killed in the offensive.[133]

On December 12, 2009, the Pakistan army declared victory in South Waziristan.[134]


2,637 security forces members and 12,847 militants were killed between January 2003, and November 12, 2009, according to government sources.[17]

On November 14, 2007, senior Pakistan Army officials told at a news conference that a total of 28 suicide attacks killed some 600 Pakistani security men, in addition to 1,300 civilians in the period after the Lal Masjid siege. It also said that from 2001 till November 14, 2007, at least 966 military men were killed and 2,259 others were injured; 488 foreign extremists were killed, 24 others were arrested and 324 foreign extremists were injured.[18] On September 10, 2009, the Pakistani Army confirmed that a total of 1,900 soldiers had been killed since 2001.[135] An additional 220 policemen were killed in fighting in 2007 and 2008.[136] Before all-out fighting broke out in 2003, independent news sources reported only four incidents of deaths of Pakistani security forces members in 2001 and 2002, in which a total of 20 soldiers and policemen were killed.[6][7][137][138] The independent South Asia Terrorism Portal website has estimated that at least 1,865 soldiers and policemen were killed between 2003 and 2008.[139] The Pak Institute For Peace Studies has estimated that 1,185 soldiers and policemen were killed in 2009.[5]

Also, at least 857 soldiers and policemen have been reported captured by the militants since the start of the war, with at least 558 of them being released.[140][141][142][143][144][145][146][147][148][149][150][151][152][153][154][155][156][157][158][159][160][161][162][163][164][165][166][167]

Some have speculated that the unofficial number of Pakistani soldiers killed in action to be somewhere around 3,000 by the late 2006.[168][169] A Pakistan writer, Ayaz Amir states that the army's "Casualties were high, perhaps unsustainable, although we’ll never know the exact figures, the Pakistan army not given to embarrassing disclosures.".[170]

Mr. Naushad Ali Khan Superintendent of Research and Analysis,[171] NWFP Police in his article Suicide and terrorist attacks and police actions in NWFP, Pakistan[172] has provided details of different activities of the terrorists during 2008. Accordingly 483 cases were registered with 533 deaths and 1290 injured. Similarly 29 suicidal cases were registered that resulted in the death of 247 persons while 695 persons sustained injuries. During the same period 83 attempts of terrorism were foiled by the NWFP Police.The full article can be viewed on the official website of Pakistan Society of Criminology.[172]

United States role

The conflict, as well as terrorism in Pakistan, has cost Pakistan $35 billion.[173]According to US Congress and the Pakistani media, Pakistan has received about $18 billion from the United States for the logistical support it provided for the counter-terrorism operations from 2001 to 2010, and for its own military operation mainly in Waziristan and other tribal areas along the Durand line.[174] The Bush administration also offered an additional $3 billion five-year aid package to Pakistan for becoming a frontline ally in its 'war on terror'. Annual instalments of $600 million each split evenly between military and economic aid, began in 2005.[175]

In 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to continue supporting Pakistan and has said Pakistan would be provided economic aid of $1.5 billion dollars each year for the next five years. Unfolding a new US strategy to defeat Taliban and Al-Qaeda, Obama said Pakistan must be a 'stronger partner' in destroying Al-Qaeda safe havens.[176] In addition, President Obama has also planned to propose an extra $2.8 billion dollars in aid for the Pakistani military to intensify the US-led war on terror along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The military aid would be in addition to the civilian aid of $1.5 billion dollars a year for the next five years from 2009 onwards.[177]

In his autobiography, President Musharraf wrote that the United States had paid millions of dollars to the Pakistan government as bounty money for capturing al-Qaeda operators from tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. About 359 of them were handed over to the US for prosecution.[175]

The U.S to supply Pakistan with 1,000 laser-guided bomb kits and 18 F-16 ,to crack down on militants [178].

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External links


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