“Restoring state authority” in Waziristan

6 Jan

Currently, a US supported (or more accurately US mandated) military campaign is underway in Pakistan to bring the tribes in Waziristan under government control and to weed out ‘insurgents’? Pakistan has deployed 12,000 military and paramilitary soldiers along with helicopter gun ships and fighter jets to prosecute the campaign. The violent campaign, being waged at the behest of US, is using, has taken over a thousand lives. Government forces have been accused of using Napalm against villages that don’t cooperate with the military.

Efforts to “restore state authority”? [Ayaz Amir, Dawn] in Waziristan are likely to backfire much like the Pakistani efforts to do the same in East Pakistan in 1970-71. The ham handed manner with which the military is going about managing the campaign is likely to create more resentment among the tribal areas, already disillusioned with Pakistan’s Punjabi-landlord dominated political scene.

The military campaign has been so under-reported in press not only because it is being fought on a difficult relatively uninhabited terrain in a third-world country but also because the area has become really dangerous for the journalists. Recently the Daily Times reported
“The Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) on Friday expressed “no confidence”? in the federal government’s ability to ensure the security of journalists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and appealed to international media rights groups to help them (tribal journalists) arrange for a “temporary shelter”? in a third country.”

The military operations in the province being carried out at the behest of US are creating a wave of resentment against the Pakistani government and the US within the area and the country at large.
Updated 1/15:The recent US military strike killing 18 people, including 5 women and 5 children has fueled widespread protests. The “missed” strike was ostensibly launched against Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Updated 1/17: Continued controversy over US air strike. Zaffar Abbas reports on the issue for BBC.

Waziristan:
It is a small mountainous area north-west of Pakistan and abutting Afghanistan. The region has been independently administered by tribes since 1883. Waziristan is split between North Waziristan and South Waziristan (formerly Wana). The relation between Waziristan and Pakistani government have been tense for many years with many attempts by the government to enforce more control. The relations have come under severe pressure of late with Pakistani government under pressure from US sending in repeated military parties to weed out Al-Qaeda sympathizers. Read more: Why Waziristan cannot be conquered by by A. H. Amin at Media Matters

Here’s a partial list of media reports on Pakistani military’s continuing action in Waziristan: