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Pashtun Taliban Insurgency - Combat Chronology

Musharraf cited Washington's threat of bombing Pakistan "into the stone age" as the reason for his Afghan policy turnabout in 2001, participating in the post-9/11 Afghan war on Washington's terms. Musharraf initially allowed military action against Afghanistan from Pakistan without sealing Pakistan's western border. Pakistan needed to stop the fleeing Taliban by sealing the porous Durand Line, despite inhospitable and treacherous terrain. In December 2001, the first operation ever was undertaken by the Pakistan Army in Terah Valley of Khyber Agency and portions of the Kurram Agency bordering area opposite Tora Bora of Afghanistan. Pak-Army and Frontier Corps (FC) troops moved in to the Shawal area of North and South Waziristan agencies in June 2002.

In a major address to the nation on 12 January 2002, President Musharraf made it clear that Pakistan would henceforth disassociate itself from terrorism and from the jihad culture. On January 12, 2002, while announcing a massive campaign to eradicate the sectarian menace, General Parvez Musharraf banned three sectarian groups, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Tehreek-e-Jafria Pakistan (TJP) and the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM) and put the Sunni Tehrik on notice. Another two sectarian groups - Sipah-e-Mohammad Pakistan (SMP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) had been banned earlier, on August 14, 2001. Thus five organizations (including the Lashkar and the Jaish) were banned and 2,000 known terrorists were arrested.

Operation Unified Resolve, conducted in June 2003, was a coordinated operation involving the Pakistan Army to secure the porous and un-demarcated border in Mohmand agency. Coalition forces were deployed across the border in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. This was for the first time that Pakistan had moved troops into this un-administered area. Afghan authorities accused Pakistan of occupying more than 40 kilometers of their territory. This resulted in a heavy exchange of fire and triggered anti-Pakistan protests. Pakistan deployed 75,000 troops along the Durand Line, in contrast to the 25,000 troops on the turbulent Afghan side. With some 250 unfrequented routes along the Durand Line, it was not possible to seal the entire border.

The Pashtun tribal and Taliban militias went to war with the Pakistani Army, inflicting high casualties for the Pakistanis, which peaked in 2004. The fighting around Wana spread to other parts of South Waziristan and the Paksitani military had been attacked in North Waziristan and the Kurram agency. Peshawar was attacked with rockets fired from the nearby Khyber agency, the first time the city was rocketed since it had suffered frequent bomb explosions when serving as the headquarters of the Afghan resitance agains the Soviets in the 1980s. After months of bloody confrontation and the loss of more than 120 lives, the Pakistan army and pro-Taliban Islamic militants in South Waziristan finally made peace with each other in late April 2004.

President Musharraf attempted to broker peace with the tribes and militias. Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain, who served in the ISI's analysis wing before his promotion and appointment as Corps Commander Peshawar, was optimistic about this political-military strategy in regard to separating homegrown Islamic militants from their foreign guests in South Waziristan.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), decided to take revenge from the State of Pakistan for abandoning their cousins to the Americans Other Taliban organized to go back and reclaim its kingdom in Afghanistan. The former are mainly attacking the institutions of the State of Pakistan, while the latter are training, regrouping, and making hit and run raids on US and Allied Forces inside Afghanistan. TTP forces, together with their Uzbek allies, launched a number of attacks against pro-Taliban militant leaders such as Maulvi Nazir, who have resisted incorporation within the TTP, and spoken out against the increasingly influential role played in FATA by Uzbek militants associated with Tohir Yuldashev.

Sectarian and extremist violence has resulted in fatal bomb attacks in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore, and other Pakistani cities since 2006. In 2007 Pakistan witnessed more than dozen attacks against its military, security forces, government officials, and civilians. A number of unknown terror plots have been disrupted, if not derailed, and raids have been conducted in cities such as Quetta, known for its historic ethnic-nationalist struggle and links to the Taliban. The emphasis on the wave of terror that has reigned in Pakistan by the Urdu press in February 2007 suggested a widening conflict between the Pakistani government and the varied militia groups.

The deal for peace with the tribes and militias ended when Pakistani forces crushed militants who seized control of the infamous Red Mosque in Islamabad in July 2007. The July 2007 Red Mosque incident in Islamabad demonstrated the Taliban's ability to influence politics in the region. The eight-day standoff with government forces concluded with Pakistani troops storming the complex. In the ensuing melee, 10 soldiers and over 90 militants were killed. By one report, many of the 300 seminary students killed in the July 2007 assault on the Red Mosque were Pashtun girls.

In Swat, Maulana Fazlullah's forces seized control of a number of towns and administrative districts between October and December 2007. Although the Pakistani security forces have generally been successful in rolling back such gains, even the temporary loss of control over towns or military facilities represents a significant blow to the legitimacy and credibility of the government.

Since 2007, over 1,000 bombings have killed more than 1,000 people throughout Pakistan and injured many more. Terrorist actions may include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, bombing -- including vehicle-borne explosives and improvised explosive devices -- assassinations, carjacking, assault or kidnapping. An October 2007 suicide attack on former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto killed more than 130 and injured approximately 375 people in Karachi. In the aftermath of her December 2007 death, rioting in Karachi led to multiple deaths and injuries, as well as widespread property damage. In September 2008, over fifty people, including three Americans, were killed and hundreds were injured when a suicide bomber set off a truck filled with explosives outside the Marriott Hotel, a major international hotel in Islamabad.

By one account, by 2009 the seven agencies of the FATA and the seven districts of Malakand Division were more or less run by various chapters of the TTP. This ascendancy was facilitated by the MMA government which ruled the NWFP from 2003 to 2008.

The military said on May 29, 2009, that more than 1,300 Taliban militants and 90 soldiers had died in the operations launched in the Districts of Lower Dir on April 26, Buner on April 28 and Swat on May 8. However, these figures cannot be confirmed independently. Between April 26 and May 29, 212 civilians, 118 Security Force (SF) personnel and 1,483 militants were killed in the NWFP. On 03 June 2009 Pakistani military officials said that while security has improved in the Swat Valley, it will take more time to completely expel the Taliban from the region. The military's chief spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, said 03 June 2009 that it may take two more months of fighting to secure the area. An army commander Major General Ijaz Awan said the military may also have to remain in the region for at least a year to maintain security.

In October 2012 Taliban militants shot Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old campaigner for human rights. The Taliban singled her out for the attack while she was returning home from school in a van in the Swat area of KP. She survived serious head wounds and was flown to the United Kingdom for medical care. Senior government officials criticized the attack and promised swift action against the perpetrators. Maulvi Fazlullah, the leader of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-Mohammadi accused of organizing the attack, was believed to be residing in eastern Afghanistan. On 07 October 2013, TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid announced that the Taliban would target Yousafzai again.

Security personnel remained a target of militant attacks throughout 2013. On March 6, TTP released video footage of its forces beheading six soldiers in Southern Waziristan. Security authorities believed the incident took place in June 2012. On September 10, the TTP kidnapped and beheaded three progovernment militiamen in the Bara area of KP. The government traditionally encouraged the creation of militias to protect communities from militant violence. On September 15, the TTP killed Major General Sanaullah Khan Niazi and two other military personnel in a roadside bombing in Swat Valley. The general was returning from a troop visit near the Afghan border when an improvised explosive device destroyed his vehicle. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, 5462 security force personnel were victims of terrorist violence since 2003. According to a March 27 article in The Express Tribune, intelligence agencies reported that the military suffered 15,681 casualties in the tribal areas since 2008.

During the year 2013 militants bombed government buildings and attacked and killed female teachers and polio vaccination workers. TTP particularly targeted girls schools to demonstrate its opposition to girls education; however, TTP also destroyed boys schools. Military operations created hardships for the local civilian population when militants closed key access roads and tunnels and attacked communications and energy networks, disrupting commerce and food and water distribution. More than 20 persons who were responsible for administering the governments polio vaccination campaign were killed in different cities. On June 16, militants shot and killed two aid workers conducting a vaccination drive in the Swabi District. As a result, polio vaccinations were suspended but later resumed. On October 7, a blast near a hospital in Budh Bher near antipolio campaigners killed two. According to media reports, aid workers have not been able to give immunizations in South and North Waziristan since July 2012.

On 23 June 2013, Taliban gunmen killed nine foreign mountaineers and their guide at a base camp in Gilgit-Baltistan. TTP later claimed responsibility for the killings. The attack was a major blow to the tourism industry, as mountain climbers were among the few foreign tourists who consistently visited the country, despite its serious security challenges.

By the end of 2013 Afghan security forces were successfully providing security for their own people, fighting their own battles, and holding the gains made by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the last decade. This was a fundamental shift in the course of the conflict. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) saw their capabilities expand rapidly since 2009, while insurgent territorial influence and kinetic capabilities have remained static. During the 2012 fighting season, ISAF led the fight against the insurgency, helping to put the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) firmly in control of all of Afghanistans major cities and 34 provincial capitals. During the 2013 fighting season, the ANSF led the fight, and consolidated GIRoAs control of Afghanistans urban areas. The fact that the ANSF a force in its infancy five years earlier could maintain the gains made by a coalition of 50 nations with the best trained and equipped forces in the world was a significant accomplishment.

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Page last modified: 22-12-2015 18:41:31 ZULU