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North Waziristan 2010

North Waziristan 2010

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Published by: AfPakWars on Oct 28, 2011
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 Anand Gopal is a Kabul-based journalist who has reported for the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, and other outlets on Afghanistan and the insurgency. He is writing a history of Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 (Henry Holt). Mansur Khan Mahsud isthe research coordinator for the FATA Research Center, an Islamabad-based think tank. He is from the Mahsud tribe of South Waziristanand has worked with several NGOs and news outlets as a researcher. He holds a masters degree in Pakistan studies from the University of Peshawar. Brian Fishman is a counterterrorism research fellow at the New America Foundation.
Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative Policy PaperCounterterrorism Strategy Initiative Policy PaperCounterterrorism Strategy Initiative Policy PaperCounterterrorism Strategy Initiative Policy Paper
The Battle for Pakistan
Militancy and Conflict in North Waziristan
Anand Gopal, Mansur Khan Mahsud, and Brian Fishman
April 2010
North Waziristan is the most important center of jihadist militancy in the FATA today, in largemeasure because of the impunity with which militants in the agency have operated. Even as thePakistani government has confronted anti-Pakistan militant coalitions in other regions, it haslargely ignored fighters in North Waziristan.
North Waziristan, the second-largest of Pakistan’s FederallyAdministered Tribal Areas, is the most importantspringboard for violence in Afghanistan today, much as ithas been for decades. The most important militant group inthe agency today is the Haqqani Network. The legendaryAfghan
commander Jalaluddin Haqqani lefthis native Khost province and settled in North Waziristan’scapital, Miram Shah, in the mid-1970s; his son, Sirajuddin,was raised in the area.
Jalaluddin quickly became the mostimportant mujahideen commander in eastern Afghanistanduring the 1980s; Sirajuddin now manages the network hisfather built, employing it to support violence against U.S.and NATO forces. Like his father, Sirajuddin uses NorthWaziristan to recruit, as a safe haven, and for strategicdepth. North Waziristan is well-suited for all of thesepurposes because of its geographic isolation, difficultterrain, and relatively stable coalition of tribal militants.Besides the Haqqanis, the largest militant coalition inNorth Waziristan is headed by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, of theMada Khel clan of the Uthmanzai Wazir. Bahadur does nothave the track record of his collaborators in the Haqqaniclan, but he does have something they do not: a strongtribal base in the rugged mountains between Miram Shahand the Afghan border. This provides important strategicleverage over militants who must traverse his territory toreach Afghanistan. Bahadur’s deputy, Maulana Sadiq Noor,is from the Daur tribe and leads a coalition of both Wazirand Daur tribesmen. Sadiq Noor is very close to theHaqqanis and Bahadur seems to follow Haqqani guidanceon difficult questions, such as whether to attack Pakistanitroops in the region.North Waziristan has been a safe haven for successivewaves of militants fleeing U.S. or Pakistani militaryoperations. Shortly after the fall of the Taliban regime inAfghanistan in late 2001, thousands of Taliban members
New America Foundation
 new america foundation – counterterrorism.newamerica.netpage 2
 new america foundation – counterterrorism.newamerica.netpage 3
associated with the regime flooded into North Waziristan.Many took shelter in the agency’s treacherous and heavilyforested Shawal Valley, which became a refuge for all sortsof foreign militants, including those from al-Qaeda.Pakistani government forces subsequently targeted otherPakistani safe havens, including South Waziristan. In2004, a wave of militants arrived in North Waziristan afterbeing pushed out of South Waziristan’s Shakai Valley.More recently, a variety of militants associated with theMehsud tribe in South Waziristan is believed to havesought safe haven in North Waziristan.
North Waziristan FactsNorth Waziristan FactsNorth Waziristan FactsNorth Waziristan Facts
North Waziristan is a mountainous, 4,707 square-kilometer(1,817 square miles) tribal agency that directly abutsAfghanistan to the west. Its capital and largest city is MiramShah. North Waziristan was incorporated into Pakistan atits founding in 1947.The major towns of North Waziristan are Miram Shah, MirAli, Datta Khel, and Razmak. The vast majority of NorthWaziristan residents are Pashtun, and the bulk of these hailfrom the Wazir and Daur tribes. Uthmanzai Wazirsdominate Datta Khel and Razmak along with most of thehilly regions, the Khaisora and Sherathala plains, the Kaituvalley, and lower stretches of the Kurram River valley.Daurs dominate Mir Ali, where they are known as LowerDaurs, as opposed to Upper Daurs, who live near MiramShah.North Waziristan consists of three subdivisions and ninetehsils. The Miram Shah subdivision comprises the MiramShah, Ghulam Khan, and Datta Khel tehsils. The Mir Alisubdivision contains the Mir Ali, Spinwam, and Shawatehsils. The Razmak subdivision consists of the Razmak,Dossali, and Garyum tehsils.Militants in North Waziristan have tended to be lessfractious than their cousins in South Waziristan, largely byavoiding divisive tribalism. But the divisions among NorthWaziristan militants are important. For example, RasoolKhan leads a group of fighters who chafe at Bahadur’sprominent role in the agency. Khan’s support for Uzbekfighters—who have angered many Pakistani militants—isone reason, but Khan’s operation also seems to have astrong criminal element that may seek greater autonomy.Similarly, a contingent of foreign and local fighters led byAbu Kasha al-Iraqi has squabbled with Bahadur’s chief commander, Sadiq Noor, who resents the Abu Kashagroup’s foreign leadership. As in other parts of theFederally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the mostcommon strategic disagreements are over the role of Araband Central Asian fighters and whether to attack Pakistanitargets in addition to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.Although they are not tribal, the disputes among militantsin North Waziristan do have a geographic element.Bahadur’s stronghold is west of Miram Shah; the militantsopposed to his leadership tend to operate in and aroundMir Ali, which is slightly farther from the border withAfghanistan. The Haqqani Network seems to have apowerful mediation role among militants in NorthWaziristan. Both Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani arewidely respected, and the younger man has intervenedmany times over the past five years to resolve disputesamong militant groups in North Waziristan and other areasof the FATA. The Haqqanis’ reputation of effective militaryaction in Afghanistan gives them influence over NorthWaziristan militants who lack their own networks acrossthe border. Moreover, the Haqqanis’ long relationship withthe Pakistani military and intelligence establishment makesthem effective interlocutors between militants and thePakistani state. And despite their differences, the militantsknow that internal squabbling weakens the effort inAfghanistan and makes each group susceptible to pressurefrom the Pakistani military.
Military Operations in North Waziristan
The Pakistani military has not conducted major militaryoperations against militants in North Waziristan, though it

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