Pakistan's North Waziristan Mirage (Bellum)
Pakistan's North Waziristan Mirageby: Jeffrey Dressler, June 7, 2010
North Waziristan Agency (NWA) is the home to a host of terrorist groups. Afghanistan, Pakistan and India-focused groups shelter, train and launch attacks from NWA targeting Afghanistan and the Pakistani state. Since the early 2000’s, the U.S. has urged the Pakistani military to take action in the agency. Recent developments demonstrate just how serious elements within the Pakistani establishment are about avoiding a NWA campaign.
North Waziristan is home to two important groups. The Haqqani Network and Hafiz Gul Bahadur’s tribal fighters are both headquartered in and around Miran Shah, North Waziristan. The Haqqanis have maintained long-standing ties with Pakistani Intelligence (ISI), who has relied on the Haqqanis to represent Pakistani interests in Afghanistan. That relationship still exists today. The Pakistan military will not take action against the Haqqanis unless they are convinced U.S. and coalition efforts in Afghanistan will both defeat the Taliban and allied groups, and facilitate stable and effective governance. Currently, they are unconvinced.
Similarly, Bahadur’s tribal fighters are not like other Pakistani Taliban—they do not actively seek the destruction of the Pakistani state. Furthermore, Bahadur and other like-minded militants have a deal with the Pakistani military that they will not interfere with the military’s efforts to dismantle Pakistani Taliban who do want to overthrow the state. Currently, the presence of the Haqqani network and Bahadur’s tribal fighters provide two clear disincentives for military action in NWA.